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Photo from Trinity Pines Photo from Trinity Pines

Youth conservation camp

The folks who often read my column know that I feel pretty strongly about getting kids outside and engaging them in the natural world around them.   Surprisingly, we have kids in our community that are not taking advantage of exploring outdoor Idaho. We are truly blessed with a myriad of outdoor opportunities out our back doors, yet there are kids across the U.S. that are plugged into electronic devices far more than then they should be. According to the Center for Disease Control, children between the ages of six months and six years spend an average of 1.5 hours a day with electronic media and children between the ages of 8 and 18 years spend an average of nearly 6.5 hours a day with electronic media.  Another alarming statistic shows only half of America’s kids between the ages of 9 and 13 are involved in outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, and walking. 

I’m not the only officer in Idaho who feels that engaging children in the outdoors is crucial to our personal, family, and community health.  The Idaho Conservation Officers Association has developed a Youth Conservation Camp to encourage children to learn outdoor skills.  ICOA was formed in September of 1976 and is an independent employee association representing Idaho conservation officers who work for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.  ICOA is an independent, non-profit organization that acquires its own funding to conduct their objectives. And one of our objectives is to “Cultivate in young people a respect for natural resources.”   

The 2010 Youth Conservation Camp will be held August 9-13 in Cascade, Idaho at the Trinity Pines Camp and Conference Facility.  The facility is top notch and will provide an outstanding setting for the camp.  You can get a glimpse of the facility on the Web at www.tpines.org.   We are extremely proud to offer youth between the ages of 10 and 12 an opportunity to have hands on experience, instructed by conservation officers from across the state, in hunting, fishing, and trapping activities. Also, there will also be a ropes course that instills team building, goal setting, and self confidence lessons. This opportunity is being provided on a first come, first serve basis to the first 30 youth. Cost per camper is $200. We are encouraging churches, sportsman’s associations, or any other group to sponsor a child that would benefit from our Conservation Camp.  Applications will be made available on the ICOA website at www.icoaonline.org starting in April. For questions please contact me at the email provided on this column.

Here are a couple of reminders for those sportsmen out there. The application period for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat controlled hunts begins April 1 and runs through April 30. The rule book is published every two years, so this year’s book will be the same as last year’s. The fees have changed since the book was printed. The new fees are $173 for resident moose, sheep or goat tags, plus a $6.25 controlled hunt application fee. The cost for non-residents is $2101.75, plus a $14.75 application fee. The rule books are available at license vendors or you can view them on-line at www.fishandgame.idaho.gov.

General Stream Fishing season opens as usual on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. However there is an earlier opening date of April 1 on the following rivers only: Lightning Creek, Pack River, and Grouse Creek.  

Now is the time is get those kids signed up for hunter education. With online registration, signing up for a hunter education or bowhunter education course has never been easier.

And this time of year, there are a number of courses to choose from.

Idaho Fish and Game offers three course options for hunter education students and two options for bowhunter education students. Traditional classroom courses and internet courses are available for both, while the hunter education program also offers a home study workbook option.

Regardless of which option, the first stop should be the hunter education webpage on the Fish and Game Web site (see address above). Click on the “Hunter and Bowhunter Education Registration” box in the bottom middle of the page to reach the site and learn more about course options, review course availability and even register for a course using a credit card.

I have started to see some bear sign, and some of you have already reported seeing a few roaming the county. The lack of snow is allowing them an early spring arousal and they are looking for food.  This is a great time to take down those bird feeders, clean up trash properly, and find a bear proof container for the dog’s food, because the bears are coming and they are hungry. 

Leave No Child Inside... sign them up for the Youth Conservation Camp!

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Matt Haag Matt Haag is an Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer.

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