Executive Director's Message by John May 7/30

IOGA Members, I hope all of you are having a great summer season and that your businesses are doing well. As always we continue to be busy here at the IOGA. We are right around the corner from this year’s Idaho Travel Council Grant Awards (August 11th). We are hopeful that with the support of our ITC Representatives that we will be able to continue to step up the promotion and marketing of our outfitting industry locally, regionally and even internationally. So, if you happen to run into your regional Rep make sure to ask them to fully support the IOGA. Through our new working relationship with the Department of Commerce and Tourism, I had the opportunity to meet last week with Ping Ruan (Consul General and Counselor) and Shen Ang (First Secretary and Consul) from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China. They are very interested in the promotion of outfitting activities in Idaho to the people of China. The fact that Idaho licenses its outfitting industry is one reason we are on their radar screen and also that we have so many different year round activities to do in our state. There will be more to come on this in the future. Many changes are occurring on our web site that you will be able to see very shortly. Enhancements to “Raft Idaho” continues as we now are working on better descriptions and videos specific to each river so our customers can get a better feel for what their experience will be like. Our hope is that with a successful grant this year we will start the same type of program with the other activities in our industry. The restructuring of the IOGA homepage is underway and one change you will see shortly is the addition of a secure members only area. This will be accessed by member numbers and passwords and will allow you to review and take advantage of all the benefits you have at your fingertips by being an IOGA Member. Many of you have probably seen that we started a new Guide Membership program where the Outfitter can sign up all of the guides working for them at a discounted price.  I want to thank the outfitters who have taken advantage of this program already and hope that the rest of you will at least look at it if you have not already. Please contact Janey in the office should you need any more information about it. Remember that the guides of today are the outfitters of tomorrow. Finally many of you have seen that we have sent out quite a few writer, filmmaker and media requests recently. Again with our partners at State Tourism we are trying to get as much positive promotion and exposure for our industry as possible. We will continue to send these out as requests come in.  Feel free to respond to as many of them as you would like. Remember that the IOGA does not make the decision on which outfitter is used. We will simply supply all offers directly to the decision maker and allow them to choose the outfitter who best fits their needs. Have a great day! John May

Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act Reauthorization Introduced

House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01) introduced H.R. 5204, the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Modernization Act of 2014.  The bill will help expand and improve opportunities for public recreation on federal lands by updating how Federal agencies collect and spend Federal recreation fees authorized by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA). The bill is scheduled for mark-up (approval) on Wednesday, July 30 by the full committee, the House Committee on Natural Resources. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) serves on this committee. IOGA and other Associations have been working very closely with David Brown of America Outdoors Association (AOA) who has taken a lead role in tracking and amending this legislation.  Any Outfitter operating on Federal Public Lands needs to pay attention to their permit renewals and cost recovery.  This bill has been heavily amended and is now in a form that IOGA and other outfitter organizations are endorsing. AOA has identified the following as key points of the bill:
  1. Defines recreation service provider:  The term `recreation service provider' means any entity that provides any recreation service on Federal recreational lands and waters for which the provider charges a fee for the service.  (The one loophole here is that groups claiming that their trips are “educational” and not recreational may seek an exemption from the recreation service provider permits when the rules are written.
  2. Revises recreation fees, creates day use fees (to replace the standard amenity fee) and amenity fees (expanded amenity fee).  Day use fees include areas of concentrated public use.
  3. Allows the agencies to collect fees directly for some services to the public.
  4. Authorizes fees for groups, individuals (where permits are required), outfitters and guides and special events.
  5. Provides a waiver from NEPA for outfitting and guiding when the use has been previously analyzed and is similar and not substantially increased over the previous authorization.
  6. Allows one permit to be issued by a lead agency when trips cross multiple agency boundaries.
  7. Sets fees for outfitters as follows:  C) Fee conditions.--The fee charged by the Secretary for a permit issued under paragraph (2)(B) (that outfitter permits)  shall not exceed 3 percent of the recreational service provider's annual gross revenue for activities authorized by the permit, plus applicable revenue  additions, minus applicable revenue exclusions or a similar flat per person fee.      This definition should eliminate basing the fees on the total cost of the trip, including services delivered outside the Forest, for example.
  8. Authorizes a pilot program for fee credits for trail maintenance.
  9. Allows you to reveal the fees to the customer when you price your trips.
  10. Requires agencies to notify Congress and give public notice of fee sites.
  11. Every other year agencies take input on how the fees are being used.
  12. Any new or increased amenity and day use fees have to be approved by Congress.
  13. Grandfathers existing permits once the law passes.  They remain in effect until they expire.
  14. Authorizes the use of outfitter and guide permit fees for permit administration and to be used to streamline permitting processes.
  15. Requires agencies to report fees by: A.  total recreational fee revenue collected by type;
B.  expenditures by project from these accounts; C.  a description of how expenditure benefitted visitors to the unit; D.  any new fees established; and E.  any changes in existing fees. Notice points 5, 6, 7, 8 and 13.  These are very important.

Public Agency Scoping for Permit Reissuance

Outfitters are encouraged to be vigilant and proactive when agencies such as the USFS and BLM initiate scoping notices that encourage the public to provide comments on permit reissuance. Don’t take things for granted such as the continuation of the same level of use days, assigned campsites and apparently the use of public trails and roads. Thirteen outfitters including ten land based (wilderness and non-wilderness), two jetboat  outfitters and one floatboat outfitter are mentioned by business name in this public notice that recently appeared in Challis and Salmon newspapers. IOGA urges outfitters to not only comment themselves but encourage past clients (the outfitted public), local businesses, Chambers of Commerce and county commissioners to formally comment on these scoping notices. For specific examples of how to encourage positive involvement of past clients, Chambers and commissioners, contact IOGA’s Government Affairs Liaison, Grant Simonds. This proactive approach by individual outfitters will assist resource managers and permit administrators to better understand the benefits and connectivity of small outfitter businesses on the Idaho rural economy. Comments are due by August 15th regarding the specific scoping notice cited above.

Fire Season is Upon Us

IOGA is monitoring the Idaho fire season that so far has seen fire activity that has had minimal impact on outfitter operations, although August is just around the bend. Be sure you are in the communication loop locally as this is usually the best and most timely information. Otherwise, this website is a good all around information source on fire activity.

Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors and Permittees

The federal proposal to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for businesses operating under new federal contracts, permits and licenses as well as a provision on “hours worked”  including overtime could have significant impact on outfitter operations. America Outdoors Association has submitted comments on this issue.

Norovirus Prevention: On Trip Incidents and Post Trip Tips

The number one preventative and containment step to help prevent the spread of Norovirus (“Stomach Bug”): Diligent, frequent, proper hand washing. The Middle Fork Outfitters Association in consultation with the Middle Fork District of the Salmon Challis National Forest and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Division of Public Health has produced this information on Norovirus Prevention. A big thanks to MFOA and IOGA outfitter member Bob Volpert of Idaho River Journeys for coordinating this effort.

Classified Ads

For Sale:  Swan Falls Excursions is licensed to offer inflatable kayak adventures from Swan Falls Dam to Walters Ferry and airboat adventures from Swan Falls Dam to Brownlee Reservoir. The asking price for the business is $40,000, other offers will be considered.  Please call for additional details, 800-422-3568 / 541-785-3352. For Sale 2-Ton Stock Truck.1993 Ford F700. Excellent for back country roads. Great condition. $8,000 OBO. If interested please call Jeff Bitton at 208-774-3591 If you are in need of well trained individuals i.e. Packers, Guides, Wranglers or Camp Cooks, we have students ready to go to work. Contact Elm Outfitters and Guides Training Program 406.961.3603 For Sale:  Jetboating business on the Lower Salmon River SA-8 and the Snake River from Lewiston to Hells Canyon dam. Would sell with or without two jetboats, a 28 ft twin and a 22 ft single. Both Bentz boats. Possible inclusion of a cabin on the Salmon river.  208-791-2341 Hunting Guides Needed  Depending on experience, position could include September through February and April through June.  Also need a couple experienced guides for 1 to 6 weeks during late September and October.  Looking for a long term commitment, archery elk hunting experience is important.  We operate in SE Idaho, Central Montana, Northern Utah and NE Washington.  Visit our website.  Contact Dale Denney or call 509-684-6294. For Sale or Lease: We are the 100 Acre Wood Lodge in North Fork, Idaho, located on the Idaho/Montana border& only 3 miles from the Salmon River. We are pursuing a "lifestyle" change & wanted some of our contacts to know we are for sale...(or lease). We are a turnkey operation with plenty of room to expand. We also have a lake, acreage and an Outfitters License. Check out our web siteor contact Jon & Nancy Cummings, 208-865-2165. Gem Air is beginning scheduled flights between Boise, Idaho and Salmon, Idaho.  In the past, we ran scheduled flights under the name of Salmon Air.  The same people who ran those scheduled flights are beginning again to offer scheduled flights!  Please visit our website or e-mail us.  We plan to grow with more flight options and more destinations. Looking forward to working with you! (Alexandra, JoAnn, Dan & David) SITKA GEAR announces the Sitka Guide and Outfitter Program, open to any registered Idaho guide or outfitter looking for top-quality hunting gear. Please contact Jeff Sposito for more information. Satellite Phone Rentals  Satmodo rents sat phones starting at $29.99/week.  Available 24/7.  Same day delivery available.  Reach us at (800) 279-2366 or via our website. ZEISS Sports Optics announces the ZEISS Guide and Outfitter Program, open to any registered Idaho guide or outfitter looking for top-quality German optics. Please contact Barton Dobbs at 303.903.4455 or via e-mail for more information.