News

Aidan Wakely-Mulroney / Flickr Creative Commons

According to a United States Drought Monitor report, all of Idaho is now in a drought or heading into a drought.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the new statistics are in stark contrast to May 2014, when the drought monitoring website reported only 52 percent of the state was under some sort of drought condition.

U.S. Geological Survey spokesman Tim Merrick says most of Owyhee County is experiencing extreme drought and the Coeur d'Alene basin is at historic lows.

Idaho Transportation Department

Last week, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) pushed 27 road and bridge projects to the top of their “fix it” list. The projects, from Nampa to Pocatello, are just a fraction of the outstanding road issues facing the Department. ITD says the projects will cost $46.8 million. 

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

An Idaho woman who faced criminal charges for having an abortion won a victory at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday.

The federal court found several Idaho restrictions on abortion to be unconstitutional.

State of Idaho

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has appointed state Sen. Dean Cameron of Rupert to oversee the Idaho Department of Insurance.

Otter announced Friday that the 13-term Republican lawmaker will be the new director effective June 15.

Cameron is co-chair of the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful legislative committees in the Idaho Statehouse. He also owns an insurance and securities investment company in Rupert.

The insurance position has been open since former Director Bill Deal left at the end of 2014.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says Idaho's laws restricting abortions after 20 weeks and requiring all second-trimester abortions to take place in a hospital are unconstitutional.

The ruling Friday upholds a judgment made two years ago by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill.

The case arose after eastern Idaho resident Jennie McCormack was charged with having an illegal abortion. Prosecutors said she obtained an abortion-inducing drug on the Internet and used it to terminate her pregnancy.

James M. / Flickr Creative Commons

Nine states are stepping into a lawsuit over the Utah prairie dog in favor of a ruling that animal activists say threatens to undermine the Endangered Species Act.

The attorneys general asked an appeals court on Thursday to uphold a ruling striking down federal protections for the Utah prairie dog on private property. They argue states should manage animals that live only within their borders.

Idaho Black Bear Rehab/Idaho Statesman

 The black bear cub injured in a Washington wildfire last year is about to go home.

The Idaho Statesman reports the 2-year-old female black bear named Cinder will be released into the wild in June.

She was found under a horse trailer in Methow Valley following a wildfire in summer 2014. Cinder's paws were so severely burned that she wasn't even walking on them. Instead, she was pulling herself along by her elbows.

Garden Valley Installs Firearms In School

May 28, 2015

The isolated Garden Valley School District has installed firearms in its only school building and trained staff to use them in response to an active shooter.

Citing safety reasons, Superintendent Marc Gee won’t say how many guns and safes were installed or where they are located. This summer, the district will post signs warning that the school building is armed and educators are prepared to defend against violent intruders.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho taxpayers will pay nearly $400,000 to bring the state's recently renovated Capitol into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Spokesman-Review reports that state officials wrongly assumed the Capitol qualified for exemptions permitted for historic buildings while undergoing the $120 million renovation back in 2010.

A complaint filed to the U.S. Department of Justice sparked a full investigation of the building, which has resulted in 110 necessary changes.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has revealed plans to preserve habitat in 10 Western states for an imperiled ground-dwelling bird, the federal government's biggest land-planning effort to date for conservation of a single species.

The proposal announced Thursday would affect energy development. The regulations include locating oil and gas wells and power lines to avoid disrupting habitat for the greater sage grouse.

Boise River
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

About 100 people showed up at a meeting Wednesday night to hear what caused an east Boise dam to malfunction in February, and what steps are being taken to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Part of the Boise River was reduced to nearly a trickle for about eight hours overnight on February 4 when a power grid fluctuation caused the Barber Dam to shut down. Ada County owns the dam, but leases the hydroelectric plant to Enel Green Power.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

BASE jumpers just want to be free. This extreme form of skydiving stands for what people leap from: Buildings and antenna, spans such as bridges, and Earth, which usually means stunningly high cliffs.

In the United States, not very many places allow it. One go-to hub is Twin Falls, Idaho, where a bridge over the Snake River offers unfettered, year-round access. But the sport is under scrutiny after 73-year-old James E. Hickey died. He set his parachute on fire in a stunt this month, and his other chute didn't deploy.

Wikimedia commons

Renowned physicist and Idaho resident Leon Lederman is selling his Nobel Prize medal. Lederman has contributed significantly to science’s understanding of subatomic particles, including neutrinos and quarks.

Lederman jokes he's selling his medal to buy an airplane. 

Ada County Sheriff's Office

 The Ada County Republican Central Committee has selected its first and second choices to replace Sheriff Gary Raney, who will resign at the end of June.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the committee has chosen Randy Folwell as its first choice and Stephen Bartlett as its second. The committee could have selected up to three names to forward to Ada County commissioners, but nominated only two.

Folwell spent 28 years with the Ada County Sheriff's Office, retiring as a captain in 2011.

Five Democratic senators are asking colleagues to fund preservation efforts for the imperiled greater sage grouse and Gunnison sage grouse.

The senators on Tuesday urged the Appropriations Committee to fund programs that include cooperative efforts with landowners.

The greater sage grouse lives across the West. The Gunnison grouse is found in Colorado and Utah.

In November, federal officials designated the Gunnison grouse a threatened species, the less restrictive of two categories under the Endangered Species Act.

A one-year travel ban is expiring for five senior Taliban leaders held in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until they were released last year in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — raising the possibility that the five can move freely around the world as early as Monday.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

There were a lot more places to live in Idaho last year than there were the year before, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau. There were 685,099 housing units in Idaho in 2014. To the census, a housing unit is most anywhere people live; houses, mobile homes, apartments large or small. 

The number of Idaho units went up by more than 6,000 between July 2013 and July 2014. That was the biggest increase the state had seen in several years.

IDP

Idaho’s Democratic Party will soon be under new leadership. The party announced Tuesday that Chairman Larry Kenck will resign effective May 29.  Kenck says health issues are forcing him to leave his post two years before his term expires.

The party’s vice chair, Jeanne Buell, will take over as acting chair until June 13.  The state central committee will then select a new chair to serve the remainder of Kenck’s term. The party says Buell will oversee the search for Kenck’s replacement.

Flickr Creative Commons, BLM/IFG

 Elko County's legal bills have exceeded $250,000 with no end in sight in a 16-year-old court battle with environmentalists and the U.S. government over control of a remote Forest Service road near the Nevada-Idaho state line.

Assistant District Attorney Kristen McQueary doesn't expect a judge to rule before the end of the year on conservationists' latest attempt to throw out a settlement agreement between the county and the Forest Service.

Eastern Idaho authorities on Monday searched for the body of a 38-year-old Utah man who was one of four people in a fishing boat that overturned in the Snake River.

Sgt. Jeff Edwards of the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office says three of the four people made it to shore when the boat struck a partially submerged cottonwood tree at about 8 p.m. Sunday.

Edwards says Steve Ryan Woods of Ogden, Utah, was last seen as the boat overturned.

Search and rescue teams searched the river Sunday evening until it became too dark.

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