August 20, 2017

GRANT RECEIVED!  The Idaho Aviation Foundation (IAF) received terrific news recently when the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust awarded IAF a $157,000 grant to complete construction of Big Creek Lodge and other related projects.  The grant will cover the $65,000 needed to complete the lodge, plus a new website for reservations and lodge operations, and much-needed repairs and upgrades to the 1930s era General Store and Tack Shed, Duplex Cabin and Yurt. The Lodge was built in the 1930s and was destroyed by fire in 2008—leaving one less backcountry place for the public to enjoy meals, lodging and other services.  Since 2013, IAF has been leading the work and fund raising to rebuild the lodge and in partnership with the USFS/Payette National Forest.  The lodge is nearing completion in 2017.  

2017.06 Lodge smallThe Murdock Trust is based in Vancouver, Washington and funds programs that enhance lives and the quality of life of people and communities via social, educational, and cultural initiatives in the Northwest.  For 80 years, Big Creek Lodge uniquely enhanced lives of outdoor enthusiasts in many of these ways, and the Murdock Trust saw the enormous potential of the lodge and the benefits for the general public and for pilots alike.  
“The generous grant from the Murdock Trust is a tremendous vote of confidence from one of the largest and most respected foundations in the Pacific Northwest.  We are honored to be a grant recipient, and now we can focus on completing the lodge,” said Jim Davies, IAF President.  “With that said, the IAF will still be raising money for startup and a general fund for repair/maintenance going forward,” he continued.

Despite some challenges this year from Mother Nature, the project to rebuild Big Creek Lodge has made good progress, and is planned to be largely completed by October.  To finish it, access via the Big Creek Road is required to get supplies, workers and materials into the site.  Road access has been difficult, thanks to the large snowpack from last season, followed by wildfires in July and early August that led to road closures in the area (fire fighters quickly attacked both fires successfully).  Weather and fire issues also forced two breakfast/fund raising events to be curtailed or postponed this season.  Fortunately, IAF had pre-positioned some heavy materials at the site in October 2016, and then flew workers to the site in May and June, getting a jump on things. 

Major accomplishments this season include completion of the lodge’s centerpiece—the beautiful rock fireplace.  In addition, we finished trouble shooting and completion of the2017.08.19 Chuck completed fireplace small hydro-electric system hook up (functioning for the first time since 2008); installation of most of the fire suppression system; rough-in of most electrical and plumbing, completion of interior framing including windows and doors; completion of hand-made sink vanities; and selection of kitchen equipment. 

Projects to be completed include installation of sheet rock, wall panels, bathroom fixtures, flooring, kitchen equipment and small heaters for rooms.  Workers will also tie into the current propane and water supply lines, finish the fire suppression system and plumbing/electrical, and do final trim including some paint.  There is grading and trench work needed, but those efforts will not affect the opening. 

Should construction continue as planned, the lodge will be open in 2018 for meals, rooms to rent, and a shower for campers.  There will be four rooms to rent in the lodge—each with its own bath/shower, and other lodging will be available at the nearby 8-person Yurt and a rustic cabin on site.  Recruiting for caretakers will begin in the Fall, and a new website will be launched in winter. 

Several initiatives are in the works to raise money for startup costs and a general repair/maintenance fund, including an Amazon Gift Registry that donors can select specific items for donation, a raffle for an ADS-B system (see below), and donor appreciation programs like the popular Log Lifter program for $1000 donors who get their name displayed on a large saw to be displayed in the lodge.  People interested in donating can do so online at or can receive information on the Gift Registry by contacting with inquiries.

2016.06.18 BC Breakfast Serving Line smallHOLD THE DATE:  IAF has announced another breakfast event at the site on Saturday, September 9 (8:30-10:00). 

CARETAKERS NEEDED:  In September 2017, IAF will be accepting applications for two caretaker positions for the 2018 season running from mid-May to mid-October.  These paid positions include room and board, and caretakers will share a room in the lodge.   The caretakers will be responsible for maintaining and cleaning the Lodge and outbuildings (including the nearby Yurt), cooking for guests, and helping guests enjoy their stay.  Interested or know someone who is?  Please send an email to to inquire and receive a job description in September.

Win an ADS-B Out installation for your plane - or give it to a friend!  You'll be helping support Big Creek Lodge at the same time.  The system is valued at $4,695 and has been donated by Jackson Jet Center at KBOI.  Prize includes:

  • Stratus ESG 1090 ES Transponder with built-in WAAS GPS      2017.06.12 Cropped ADS B        
  • GPS antenna                                                                  
  • Installation* ($1000 from Jackson Jet, $700 from IAF)          
  • ADS-B "In" and other upgrades available
  • Applicable to most Part 23 aircraft

Tickets are $20 each and only 1000 tickets will be sold.  Tickets will be available at many aviation events throughout the summer and online tickets are now available - click HERE to buy tickets.  Drawing will be held by February 15, 2018 (Date TBD).  Prize is transferrable.  Must be installed at Jackson Jet Center.  Product information is available at and raffle Terms and Conditions are here.

jackson jet center logo

                            Click HERE to Buy Tickets



Jackson Jet Center in Boise

*Jackson Jet Center is donating the above items to benefit Idaho Aviation Foundation's Rebuild Big Creek Lodge project.  Free installation for Part 23 aircraft with a current transponder.  Some limitations may apply.  IAF cannot guarantee applicability. Gift Registry:  since we are starting to plan the furnishings and decor of Big Creek Lodge, volunteer Marsha Davies developed a gift registry for items we need!  There are items from $69 to $2000 on the list - and you don't have to buy the items on Amazon...most items can be donated if they have a 'similar' look and feel, and shipped to our staging location in McCall, Idaho.  Want to see the list? Email us at and we will invite you to see it!2017.06.14 Amazon Gift Registry Picture


The 2016 building season ended with the close of October at the Big Creek Lodge site.  We got a lot accomplished during the year but were unable to complete the lodge.  Here is a recap of all the activity: 

Brighter Fireplace.Framing end of 2016
Fireplace and Framing at the end of 2016



 Overall:  The financials and the lodge itself are in good shape, with only about $77,000 needed to complete the actual construction in 2017, while an estimated $79,000 is needed for finishing details, repairs to historic buildings on the site, develop a new website, etc.  We have money in the bank to begin work in 2017 until those final funds can be raised.  


In 2017 we need to complete:

  • Electrical - complete rough-in on second floor and connect to power;
  • Plumbing - complete rough-in on second floor, install fixtures (70% already on site)
  • Framing - finish second floor;
  • Fireplace - finish masonry the last several feet at the top and complete chimney above roof;
  • Install fire suppression system (materials on site already)
  • Hook up/complete water distribution systems;
  • Accomplish Grading/Landscaping;
  • Complete inspections.


And here is your year in review, starting with headwinds but chasing that with the great tailwinds we had this year.

Headwinds -  we encountered some challenges this year:

  • Funding:  After Bruce Parker's tremendously successful Cessna 172 raffle program that netted nearly $50,000 after expenses, donations slowed in mid-summer.  Being fiscally responsible, we would not continue work without the funds to complete major milestones, so we paused some work until we had more than sufficient funds for our goals (See Tailwinds section) - and ended the  season on a high note.  In the coming months, we will make more applications for grants and finish requests to specific potential donors down the  homestretch.
  • Schedule:  The complexities of the project increased this year versus 2015 due to juggling many sub-projects (electrical, plumbing, masonry, framing, septic, hydroelectric etc.) vs. one big one last year.  Like many large building projects, the schedule changed with variables such as weather, equipment, people, and funding - but Big Creek's remote location, lack of utilities, and lack of reliable communication resources exacerbated schedule challenges.  During the winter we will spend more time planning vendors and contractor work.  We are also going to use more contract labor than originally intended - which adds some costs - but will be more efficient in getting it completed.   Some volunteer work is still available and will be coordinated through Jim Davies (
Lodge end of 2015 5
Lodge at the end of 2015
Brighter Lodge 2016
Lodge at the end of 2016

  Tailwinds - we had success in these areas:
By August/September, our fund raising efforts began to produce results, and funding floodgates opened that allowed us to get back on track;

IAF was honored to receive a $100,000 grant from the J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, awarded due to the project’simportance in improving the social well-being for the public;

We received another $75,084 in donations from several individuals plus groupdonations from the International Cessna 180/185 Club and Bushwheel Awareness Week from August through October;

IAF received a donation of bathroom fixtures from American Standard and DXV, brands owned by Lixil.  This was accomplished through the leadership of Lixil's Wade McNabb from Tennessee, and Idaho suporters Bob, Jane, and James Hoff, plus the design assistance of Marsha Davies.  For the seven bathrooms in the lodge, we received toilets, sinks, valves, faucets and various bathroom hardware valued at $20,000.  Ray Arnold Aviation donated flights to get this material into Big Creek so it would be there for work to start before the road at Profile Gap is navigable in July.  

  • With the new funds, we were able to accomplish the following:
    -Completed the porch and porch roof;
    -Completed chinking and log oiling inside and out;

    -Cut in and installed windows and doors;
    -Hooked up septic system to lodge;

    -Completed main floor room framing and part of second floor;
    -Roughed in most of main floor electrical and plumbing;
    -Neared completion of the fireplace.

    Brighter Plumbing Fixtures 11.09.16 2
    Bathroom fixtures are on site, courtesy of American Standard and DXV

Other Milestones
-The Breakfast team (you know them: Larry, Bill, Doug, Sparky and Wally plus others!) hosted three breakfast events du
ring the year, and served 210 meals in a beautiful setting;
-We determined that the Log Lifters will be honored with names put on a large donated cross cut saw - it will fit nicely with the lodge aesthetics.
-Phil Pryor, with help from wife, Roxie, completed restoration of the Big Creek 1920’s era gas pump which will be displayed on the porch of the lodge;
-Bruce Vanderhoff completed extensive repairs on the 8-foot long “Big Creek Lodge” entryway sign which will be on display for opening day!
-Wally Glass was on site for several weeks and helped to coordinate improvements on the yurt, put together needed first aid & emergency kits, and other projects;
-John Bovee built much needed shelving in the General Store building, and others assisted with rock preparation for the mason work, repaired vehicles on site, and repaired hydroelectric water lines.

In summary, we accomplished a great deal this year even though we did not attain the goal of completion in 2016.  We have lots to do next year, and the winter will be spent planning, planning, planning…and fund raising for that final $50,000!
We are thankful for your support and belief in this project—this is YOUR lodge and it is becoming a reality soon.  If you have been meaning to donate for the first time or once again you can donate at or call our Treasurer, Nadine, at 208-861-9056.