News

biologycorner / Flickr

Idaho students scored higher taking new standardized tests compared to the national benchmarks used to measure English language arts and math proficiency.

The Idaho State Department of Education released the preliminary scores on Wednesday.

Scores were supposed to be released June 5, but a delay with the vendor pushed the release date several weeks.

This is the first year the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium examination's scores have been released. Last year, the state rolled out a practice version to work out the kinks of the new system.

Washington Fish and Game

Federal wildlife officials have rejected a petition from advocates who sought to reclassify gray wolves as a threatened species in most of the U.S.

Gray wolves across most of the Lower 48 are classified as endangered, which is more protective than a threatened designation. Advocates hoped a change to threatened would pre-empt intervention from members of Congress who want to lift federal protections altogether.

Terry R. Thomas / naturetrack.com

When more than 2,000 migrating snow geese were found dead at eastern Idaho’s Mud Lake in March, headlines all over the country said the birds had fallen dead from the sky. Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game says that did not actually happen, but the agency has revised its explanation of what did occur.

When the birds were found, fish and game biologists saw clear signs of avian cholera. And the department initially ascribed the whole die-off to cholera.

Kellie Parker / Flickr Creative Commons

Earlier this week, Latah County officials voted to update their employee handbook to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The rule only applies to LGBT people who work for the county, and not the entire population.

“At this point it’s not on our agenda to take that up, although it could be," says Latah County Commissioner Tom Lamar. "It could be talked about more.”

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Conservative activists are calling for the College of Southern Idaho to remove its refugee program following concerns over the influx of Syrian refugees expected to arrive in south-central Idaho later this fall.

The Times-News reports that the group formed after college officials announced in April that 300 refugees were expected to resettle in Idaho at the start of the new federal fiscal year. Many of the refugees will possibly come from Syria, leading some community members to speculate they could be radical Muslims.

John Penny / Flickr Creative Commons

If you’re in Boise, take a look around. There’s a very good chance some of the people you see are out-of-towners. June and July are Boise’s busiest months for tourism.

The Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau keeps track of how many hotel rooms get rented and when. Visitors bureau director Carrie Westergard says both in June and July the city could have as many visitors as residents.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Frank Eld has made saving historic buildings his life’s work; he started after college in 1969. The historian and preservationist founded the Long Valley Preservation Society, a non-profit group that has saved much of the tiny town of Roseberry in Valley County.

If all goes according to plan, Eld will get to watch a house in Boise's Central Addition move from downtown to an empty lot on the East End Tuesday at midnight.

Pockafwye / Flickr

Sunday broke some records for high temperatures, but the heat didn’t break Idaho Power’s record for peak demand. That’s even though the company is seeing tremendous demand on the system.

Sunday, the company used 3,292 megawatts of power to keep irrigators pumping and air conditioners on. But spokeswoman Lynette Standley says the system record — set July 2 — 2013, is 3,407 megawatts.

Idaho Power expects to use more power Monday than Sunday. Standley says the projection is over 3,300 megawatts. That compares to an average use of less than 2,000 megawatts.

UnShuttered Soul~ Good to be busy! / Flickr

Starting July 1, Idahoans will see new laws that range from how much they pay at the gas station to giving teachers a pay bump.

Next week marks the start of a new fiscal year in Idaho. This means a $95 million transportation plan designed to help repair Idaho's crumbling bridges and roads will go into effect. For Idaho residents, vehicle registration fees are going up $21 and gas will cost 7 cents more because of higher taxes.

inl.gov

Scientists say a continued drop in underground water levels could make it harder to monitor the movement of radioactive contamination in an aquifer below an eastern Idaho nuclear facility.

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey in a 36-page report released Monday say the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer has dropped below two wells and about a dozen more could go dry due to drought.

U.S. Forest Service

Drones are a growing concern for those who fight the nation’s wildfires, and the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise is again asking those who fly drones to keep them away from fires.

Twice last week, aerial firefights on the San Bernardino National Forest in southern California had to be suspended because of nearby Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or UAS.   

Kyle Green / Idaho Statesman

Partnerships between public universities and private companies – called technology transfers – have the potential to solve some of the world's most difficult problems. The idea is to have researchers at universities do their work, and then the institution will help them obtain a patent. At that point, the product can be sold to a private company for distribution. Think of the iconic Gatorade story at the University of Florida. 

SP8254 - On a Break! / Flickr Creative Commons

The Supreme Court’s decision Friday makes same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. But it’s been legal in Idaho since last fall.

“It changes nothing for Idaho, nothing at all,” Shaakirrah Sanders says.

A group of teens from around Idaho will cast their lines in C.J. Strike Reservoir this Sunday, in the hopes of catching the biggest fish. The fifth annual fishing competition is part of The Bass Federation’s youth programming.

Idaho Education News

When it comes to paying and keeping teachers, there are wide gaps between Idaho’s haves and have-nots.

Idaho’s new five-year plan to boost teacher pay will not solve this problem. In fact, it could even get worse.

The $125 million career ladder law is designed to narrow the teacher pay gap between Idaho and neighboring states. Within Idaho, teacher salaries are set locally, and results vary widely from district to district. (To see how your local district stacks up, use the searchable table at the bottom of this story.)

Michael Galkovsky / Flickr Creative Commons

The head of Idaho's state-run health insurance exchange says no matter what decision the U.S. Supreme Court made Thursday on the federal subsidies that are part of Obamacare, the state wouldn't have been affected.  

The court upheld the practice of giving subsidies to people buying health insurance in states that don’t have their own exchanges. Idaho is one of the 16 states that created exchanges.

Gay marriage, couples, lawsuit
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The Supreme Court has declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States.

Gay and lesbian couples already can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court's ruling on Friday means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.

The outcome is the culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally.

A southwest Idaho man police say quit breathing while being restrained by officers has died.

Authorities tell the Idaho Statesman that 23-year-old Allen Hernandez of Homedale died Tuesday.

Authorities say Hernandez got into a car crash on Sunday morning and asked to use the phone at a residence a quarter-mile away.

Police say he called 911 and said he wanted to go home before hanging up and getting into a fight with three residents.

Prairie Dog, wildlife
Matthew Paulson / Flickr Creative Commons

Government attorneys are defending federal protections for Utah prairie dogs after 10 states stepped into the case in favor of a ruling that animal activists say could undermine the Endangered Species Act.

Federal lawyers are asking an appeals court to overturn an unusual ruling striking down prairie dog protections near the Utah town of Cedar City.

Residents say the animals are taking over their town, though animal activists countered Thursday that those concerns are overblown.

sage grouse, wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

In September, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is set to make a decision that many in the West have been anticipating for years. The federal agency will decide whether to list the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act, a move that many groups in states like Idaho want to avoid.

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