Boise Fall Gathering & Silent Auction

November 3rd, 2014


6-9 PM



Celebrate our most successful season to date!

LISTEN to guest speaker Doug Scott, author of “The Enduring Wilderness”.  Also hear compelling stories from our Volunteers and Ranger Interns as they reflect on their experiences working in Idaho’s Wilderness and how stewardship has affected their lives.

BID on fantastic “experience-oriented” silent auction items.

ENJOY Sockeye Brewing’s featured IDAHO WILD 50 beer, hors d’oeuvres from Open Table Catering, and specially selected wines.

PICK UP a few Grand Raffle tickets – a chance to win a 2-person, 6-day Middle Fork Salmon river trip and/or a 5-day Selway river trip.

SIGN UP to volunteer and/or become a member of the Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation and be a part keeping Wilderness wild!


Foundation Announces Warren Q. Miller Internship Fund

September 29th, 2014

Warren Miller photo from obit

Warren Q Miller 1945-2014

The Foundation and the Wilderness community will miss Warren Miller, a member and long-time supporter. Warren was known for his skill in crosscut saw sharpening, a lost art mastered by few which Warren generously shared through teaching. Our field staff regarded him as an expert and an inspiration in the world of filing and maintaining their saws. An internship in Warren’s name has been established and donations are welcomed.

Warren worked as a Wilderness Ranger in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness from 1971-1991 (Moose Creek District), and he taught “Crosscut Maintenance and Sharpening” at the Ninemile Wildlands Training Center near Missoula every spring from 1993-2012. We all looked up to Warren for the wisdom he’d gained from so many years’ experience. He always gave us time when we needed a saw sharpened, a backcountry conundrum figured out, or to share a good story. He donated a free saw-filing every year to the auction at the Foundation’s Annual Gathering in Lewiston.

Warren was an independent, caring and brainy guy whose curiosity was piqued by the complexities of the saws he used when he started at Moose Creek. So many teeth! Spider guages, swedging hammers, the Gibbs jointer! He was always drawn to figuring out how something worked (he’d majored in physics at Reed) and he had patience for the many hours it can take to ready a saw for a wilderness season.

“Hmmmm” he would have said, “I wonder how you sharpen this thing?”

He taught himself how by studying with Martin Winters, a filing master who’d practiced since 1927. Soon he was sharpening saws for his district, and in 1978 he published “The Crosscut Saw Manual” through the Forest Service.  Today an updated print version of the manual and a companion DVD “The Crosscut Saw Filer” are available on the web. People from everywhere send notes of appreciative feedback; I saw one from a fellow in Czech Republic!

Warren loved the challenge of figuring out how to tackle complex problems requiring non-motorized equipment. He was on the team that helped clear trails in the hurricane-damaged Juniper Springs Wilderness in Florida. He figured out how to breach a dam inside the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, a project that was written up for a Region One Traditional Skills Award. He helped Region One’s Historical Preservation Team stabilize remote wilderness lookouts and also buildings at the Jim Moore Place on the  Salmon River. In 2005 he demonstrated saw filing at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington DC.

“So what makes filing a crosscut saw so technical and so difficult?” Debbie Lee asked him in a recent interview for the Selway-Bitterroot History Project. “Well,” he said, “it takes me a week to teach this. There’s a lot of different aspects that all have to work together. You’ve got … two different kinds of teeth and they each … have to be sharpened, or treated in a particular way so that they work with each other. A crosscut saw … is not really a primitive tool because … for it to work properly each of the teeth has to be filed … in a very precise way so that it interacts most efficiently with the wood, because unlike a power saw where you have a lot of power to muddle your way through a cut if the saw’s not sharpened properly, your crosscut is human powered … Humans have a quarter of a horsepower at most … so you want … a tool that is as efficient at cutting a log as you can make it … It’s a very precise tool made up of a number of different parts all of which have to be working in concert with each other for it to work efficiently and that’s basically what makes it complicated. It’s … not that each individual piece is very complex or difficult it’s just that they all have to be working together.”

The Foundation thanks Warren for the spirit and authenticity he gave for the continued use of traditional tools, and for his support of the work we do.

-Sarah Walker (SBFCF Advisory Board and former wilderness worker)


Cream Puffs to Beef Jerky

June 30th, 2014





The wilderness is abuzz in birthday celebration—bird calls echo through trees, snowmelt waterfalls over rocky cliffs, wildflowers tint the verdant hillsides with whites, yellows, and purples, and even the ticks and mosquitos are making an appearance. While some might say the array is simply a showing of spring, but it sure feels like a party.

The wilderness is abuzz in birthday celebration—bird calls echo through trees, snowmelt waterfalls over rocky cliffs, wildflowers tint the verdant hillsides with whites, yellows, and purples, and even the ticks and mosquitos are making an appearance. While some might say the array is simply a showing of spring, but it sure feels like a party.

It’s an exciting time to delve into the valleys, forests, and landscapes that are marking their 50th year of Wilderness, and this first hitch was a wonderful introduction into the Bitterroots.  Erica, Claire (our crew leader), and I went up four different canyons, monitoring campsites and obliterating campfire rings.  The Bitterroots are magnificent—glaciated valleys rise into rocky peaks and cliffs—and the fabulous geography distracted us green interns from our blistered feet, sore shoulders, new callouses, and high-waisted uniform pants. With every canyon, my body is changing from a soft winter cream puff to a sinewy piece of jerky, and I like to think that by the end of this summer I’ll be pretty darn tough.

Why I Love Wilderness

June 5th, 2014

During our interns’ crosscut saw training, the Forest Service offered a beautiful double-bit axe to the winner of a writing competition.

There were many wonderfully written odes to wild places, but only one axe to dole out as a prize. Here is intern Andrew Bushnell’s winning entry to the prompt ‘Why I Love Wilderness:’

“The meaning of Wilderness is not meant to be put on paper. The touch of wind, the rush of water cannot be wrote between lines. What we write, what we describe of wilderness is a mere attempt, a miniscule effort to cage something meant to be experienced. Wilderness is a feeling. It’s a sensation, a sense of something basic, simple, and unkempt. In its solitude it is welcoming. It beckons to the restless, and in its confines the restless find calm. The solitude of wilderness is not lonely. Within its character we find company. In the pines, in the birdsong, and in the feel of dirt beneath the palms we find solace. In its unkempt and wild nature we find order. In wilderness we find ourselves. With this quality, wilderness is the giver of meaning . It’s the backdrop for self discovery and the conduit for introspection. With its basic and pure character, it is a yardstick to measure oneself. Against the backdrop of wilderness we can find our meaning. Why we do what we do, what we want to do, who we want to be. Within wilderness a clarity exists like no where else. Outside influence becomes inward reflection and inward reflection becomes meaning. In its purest form wilderness is a way to experience oneself.”

Congratulations Andrew! Here’s a photo of him with his new beauty, outside Fenn Ranger Station.

Axe courtesy of Doug Olive, USFS, Fenn Ranger Station, Moose Creek Ranger District, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, Selway Bitterroot Wilderness.












SBFC Releases Spring 2013 Newsletter

March 25th, 2013

The SBFC has released the Spring 2013 edition of it’s newsletter, The Wildest Place. Included in this edition:

  • SBFC Receives Forest Service’s Bob Marshall Award for Partner Champion of Wilderness Stewardship
  • Introduction of the SBFC’s new Selway-Bitterroot Program Director, Kenzie Carson
  • Telluride Mountainfilm Festival dates and ticket locations
  • …and much more!
  • Click here to download now!

    SBFC Receives National Wilderness Award from Chief of Forest Service

    February 28th, 2013

    The Forest Service recently announced the recipients of its 2012 National Wilderness Awards, and the SBFC is the proud recipient of the Bob Marshall Award for Partnership Champion in Wilderness Stewardship. These awards honor individuals and groups for excellence in wilderness stewardship and encompass education, traditional skills and minimum tools leadership, and overall wilderness stewardship. Read on for the Forest Service’s press release:

    In 2006, the Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation was established to assist the Nez Perce, Clearwater, and Bitterroot National Forests in completing critical wilderness and trail work. In December 2008 Rob Mason was hired as the Executive Director. The SBFC has worked with three National Forests and five ranger districts to develop and implement work plans. The SBFC has logged more than 54,000 volunteer hours, worth more than $1,152,000. During the 2010 field season they removed more than 35,000 pounds of trash from the Seminole Ranch Homestead. They have worked collaboratively with a wide variety of organizations such as Back Country Horsemen, National Smoke Jumpers, Sierra Club, Montana Wilderness Association, The Wilderness Society, Montana Conservation Corps, and AmeriCorps to accomplish projects. Thanks to Rob Mason, the SBFC has grown from a fledgling group of volunteers to a major force in wilderness stewardship in the region.

    Forest Service Northern Region Wilderness Program Manager Steve Kimball congratulated Rob and the SBFC, saying “The wilderness stewardship efforts of Rob and the group combine with the extraordinary work of Forest Service managers and rangers and other groups to make a huge difference in these Wilderness Areas. It’s a good time to reflect on all that so many are doing to preserve wilderness character and qualities.” We couldn’t agree more! The award was presented at our Missoula Winter Gathering & Fundraiser on Saturday, February 23.

    SBFC Releases 2013 Wilderness Ranger Internship Program Application

    November 15th, 2012

    On the heels of an amazing 2012 field season with our 2012 Wilderness Ranger Interns, we are excited to release the application for our 2013 Wilderness Ranger Internship Program. If you are interested in applying, or just generally interested in the nation’s premier wilderness ranger training program, please go to our Wilderness Ranger Internship Program page, or download the announcement here.

    SBFC’s 1st Annual Fall Gathering and Fundraiser in Boise to be held November 9

    November 2nd, 2012

    Join us at the Linen Building in Boise for to celebrate a season of field work. Come bid on some items in one of the best wilderness-oriented silent auctions around while filling yourself up on wine, beer and hors d’ouvres. Don’t forget to pick up some raffle tickets while enjoying live music.

    We’re excited to announce that they keynote speaker will be Idaho author and historian Cort Conley, author of River of No Return, Idaho for the Curious, and Idaho Loners. Cort will be delivering his presentation “Five River Stories – Tales from the Middle Fork Salmon, Main Fork Salmon and Snake Rivers.” And the amazing local old-time band Hokum Hi-Flyers will be performing throughout the night as well!

    Location: The Linen Building, 1402 . Grove St., Boise
    Time: 6:30PM to 9:30PM
    Cost: Event is FREE!

    Click here for map/directions to Linen Building

    SBFC releases Fall 2012 edition of The Wildest Place newsletter

    October 17th, 2012

    The SBFC has released the Fall 2012 Edition of our newsletter, The Wildest Place. This edition features:

    • A complete list of all of our 2012 projects and accomplishments, including our first season of projects in the Frank and our biggest season ever in the Selway!
    • Announcements for upcoming events in Boise (Nov. 9), Lewiston (Feb. 2) and Missoula (Feb. 23)
    • Dates for the 2013 Telluride Mountain Film Festival
    • An essay from one of our 2012 Wilderness Ranger Interns, Seth Bader
    • A farewell to one of our great friends, Chris Ryan
    • …and more!

    Click HERE for the Fall 2012 newsletter!

    Live in the Boise area? If so, we’ve got a treat for you. We’re hosting our 1st Annual Fall Gathering and Fundraiser on Friday, November 9, at the Linen Building in Boise. The will run from 6:30PM to 9:30PM and is free to the public. Keynote speaker Cort Conley will deliver a presentation entitled “Five River Tales”, spinning yarns and truths about the Middle Fork Salmon, Main Fork Salmon and Snake Rivers. Please come down and enjoy our fantastic silent auction and raffle, as well as wine, beer, hors d’ouevres and music while supporting our efforts to take care of your backyard backcountry. You might even find a good holiday gift to boot!

    We want you! If you’re not already a member, please consider supporting out efforts by joining the SBFC now. Online membership sign-up is now available!

    Hope to see you all soon at one of our events this fall or winter!

    SBFC Rebuilds Indian Creek Boat Ramp

    October 9th, 2012

    From September 1 through 8, the SBFC led the effort to reconstruct the iconic Indian Creek Boat Ramp on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. The previous ramp constructed in 2006 fell victim to exposure and wood rot after supporting countless rafts on the seventy-five foot descent from the public air strip to the river. Re-bar and broken sill logs signaled the time for a new ramp and the Forest Service asked the SBFC to lead the project.

    The SBFC recruited ten volunteers from Idaho, Montana and Colorado to replace the ramp in its entirety, effectively installing a brand new boat ramp. The work consisted of manually deconstructing and hauling the old ramp to an off-site location, then reinstalling each new step and slide log by hand. 12,000 lbs. of timber was moved by hand during the demolition and reinstallation.

    No power tools or mechanical devices were used during this project. Instead, traditional tools such as auger drills, cross-cut saws, double jack hammers and volunteer elbow grease provided all the power required for a project of this magnitude.

    This project was made possible by funding provided by the Southwest Idaho RAC. The SBFC would like to thank the Salmon-Challis National Forest for its support of the project and all our hearty volunteers for donating your time and energy to accomplish such a challenging project.

    You can check out a photo gallery of the project on our Facebook page.

    For a full list of all of this year’s accomplishments, please go to our Projects page and browse through the full list of our 2012 work.