News

Bob / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho officials have released a draft management plan to bolster a struggling species once considered the most abundant upland game bird in the Pacific Northwest.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game says the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse occupies less than 5 percent of its historic range in the U.S., with 60 percent of the remaining population in Idaho.

The agency also filed a request with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to add 20,000 acres to a program that in Idaho pays farmers to convert fields into sharp-tailed grouse habitat.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Ada County homeowners are receiving annual notices in the mail with their new property values. The county assessors office says the median value of a home went up 5.8 percent between 2013 and 2014.

County Assessor Bob McQuade says the new median increase is tempered compared to the growth seen last year, which was a jump of about 14.5 percent. That means half of Ada County home values went more than 5.8 percent and half went up less.  

Brittany Randolph / Flickr Creative Commons

Wednesday is the first day of summer vacation for students in the Boise School District. Other districts have already ended the year, others will very soon. That means free summer nutrition programs for low-income kids are about to start up.

Nationally, nearly 4 million kids participate in USDA-sponsored summer meal programs. Preliminary numbers show nearly 27,000 of those kids were in Idaho last summer.

Idaho Statesman

Former state Rep. Kitty Gurnsey who served in the Idaho Statehouse for more than 20 years has died.

The Spokesman-Review reports that 87-year-old Gurnsey passed away Sunday.

The Republican from Boise was first elected to the Idaho House in 1974. At the time, she was just one of nine women lawmakers serving in the Idaho Legislature. Gurnsey went on to co-chair the powerful Joint Finance Appropriations budget committee for 16 years.

Brian Stalter / Flickr Creative Commons

After the rain and warm weather southern Idaho has seen over the last few weeks, conditions are primed for wild morel mushroom hunting. The fungal plant is especially fruitful on burned forest land, which makes national forests a popular spot for morel picking.

Dave Olson is a spokesman with the Boise National Forest. He says the best time for morels is the first season after a wildfire, so 2014's relatively quiet wildfire season means this year isn't as good as in years past.

When officials at North Side Canal Co. realized that they needed to replace an aging concrete gate, they chose one that would pay for itself.

The Twin Falls Times-News reports that the new gate doubles as a hydroelectric power plant and is expected to generate $8 million worth of electricity over the next 28 years.

That's enough to cover the entire cost of the project.

NOAA Fisheries West Coast / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials are releasing a plan to recover struggling bull trout populations in five Western states with the goal of lifting Endangered Species Act protections.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the draft plan for six recovery units spread over Idaho, western Montana, Washington, Oregon and a tiny portion of northern Nevada will be released Thursday.

Bull trout require pristine conditions and were listed as threatened in the Lower 48 states in 1999.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

John Steinbeck’s classic "Of Mice and Men" will remain on the classroom reading list for freshmen in a north Idaho school district.

The Coeur d’Alene school board voted 4-1 Monday night to keep it.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Thousands more people in the Treasure Valley may be required to buy flood insurance in the near future.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is revising its floodplain maps for the Boise River, and a lot of neighborhoods near the river could be added, requiring more home and business owners to buy potentially costly flood insurance.

Barbara Horne's neighborhood in Eagle is one of those. Horne walks her dog around the pond behind her house.  The pair could reach the Boise River in five minutes. Despite living so close to the river, Horne does not have flood insurance.

Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

The wife of a Boise pastor jailed in Iran will testify tomorrow before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Naghmeh Abedini will tell the story of her husband, Saeed, who has been detained in Iran since 2012.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

On May 14, Boise State Public Radio hosted a Community Conversation on the issue of affordable housing in the Treasure Valley. The goal was to examine how new riverfront development in Garden City could affect this important part of the region’s housing stock. The event was part of the KBSX series called “Growing Garden City."

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.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Boise Contemporary Theater's latest play is a secret. No, really – it's called "SuperSecretSiteSpecificSomething" for a good reason. (It's also called "S5" for short.) But what's less of a secret is the life it’s breathed into the Boise arts community, and the way audiences have embraced the show. The piece has sold out the rest of its four-week run, which ends June 6.

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.

TwinFallsChamber.com

Twin Falls has become a Mecca for BASE jumpers -  people who parachute off bridges, buildings and cliffs. The city's Perrine Bridge is one of few places where people can jump any time without paying or getting a permit. 

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