Associated Press

grizzly, bear, yellowstone
Neal Herbert / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr

An advocacy group has petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce grizzly bears into the Selway-Bitterroot area of Idaho and Montana.

The Center for Biological Diversity said Thursday that it hopes to revive a stalled recovery plan for the animals that was finalized in 2000.

The group says having bears in the Selway-Bitterroot would help connect grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park with other populations of the animals in Montana and Idaho. It says the 16-million-acre area could support 300 to 600 bears.

TBiley / Flickr Creative Commons

Greek yogurt maker Chobani says a newly installed reverse-osmosis filtration system at its south-central Idaho plant will reduce the company's consumption of water by 20 percent.

The Times-News reports that the company is installing the new machine to help reduce complaints from its residential neighbors.

Last year, Hollister residents complained about increased truck traffic and odors coming from a local farm that recycled the company's acid whey, which is a waste product of the yogurt plant.

New research could have implications for cattle and sheep grazing in the habitat of a ground-dwelling bird that environmentalists say needs federal protection across the Rocky Mountain region.

A study published in the December issue of Wildlife Biology examines the relationship between nesting success by the greater sage grouse and the height of grass nearby.

Environmental groups including WildEarth Guardians say the study is cause for concern about livestock grazing in sage grouse habitat. Others say grazing can improve habitat for sage grouse.

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter says the U.S. Supreme Court should wait until it receives arguments from Idaho before deciding a case involving gay marriage in the United States.

In documents filed with the nation's highest court, lawyers for Otter said waiting for Idaho's case would help the Supreme Court resolve "the marriage-litigation wave in all respects."

Russell Heistuman / Flickr Creative Commons

The Coeur d'Alene City Council says guns will now permitted at public events like parades.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports the council unanimously made the change Tuesday night, changing an ordinance prohibited guns within 1,000 feet of a parade. City Attorney Mike Gridley says the rule was originally created to avoid conflict in the community when the white supremacist group Aryan Nations was still headquartered in the region. The Aryan Nations compound closed after lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center bankrupted the group in 2000.

Medical, Health Care
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Your Health Idaho's executive director says nearly 74,000 Idahoans have selected a health insurance plan on the state-based exchange.

Pat Kelly told exchange board members Tuesday that the number fell somewhere mid-range of the exchange's projections.

However, Kelly did not say how many of those enrolled for the first time. He also didn't mention how many people had submitted an application but had not yet selected a health plan.

Last year, roughly 76,000 people signed up on Idaho's exchange.

Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho's U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are looking for people interested in becoming Idaho's next federal district judge.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge is taking senior status, a semi-retirement in which he will continue to serve the court but his caseload will be reduced. The move means that Idaho could soon have its first new federal judge appointed since 1995, when current U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill took the bench.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A group of Idaho lawmakers tapped to look at ways to improve the state's criminal justice system will meet this week to talk about when their legislative efforts will go into effect.

The Criminal Justice Reinvestment Interim Committee will meet Wednesday at the Idaho Statehouse. They'll hear from staffers with the Council of State Governments Justice Center, and they'll discuss when the criminal justice legislation they passed last year will go into effect.

An 11-year state and federal study of selenium pollution in a southeastern Idaho watershed where some 700 sheep, cattle and horses have died over the last several decades after grazing in contaminated areas has found the toxin is likely moving through groundwater.

The 36-page study on the Upper Blackfoot River Watershed released earlier this month by the U.S. Geological Survey also found that selenium levels spiked in the river during spring thaw.

Researchers say the inactive Maybe Canyon Mine is producing the most contamination.

Marketplace

City officials in Sandpoint are defending banning the public from a meeting about oil and coal train traffic attended by three area mayors, a state senator, county commissioner and officials from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

Sandpoint Mayor Carrie Logan tells the Bonner County Daily Bee that the meeting Thursday was for information only and no actions were taken.

Aaron Kunz / Idaho Public Television

Sherri Ybarra says she's staying mum on all things budget, policy and staffing until she's sworn into office on Jan. 5.

The recently elected Republican is in the middle of transitioning to become Idaho's next superintendent of public instruction.

Ybarra told The Associated Press Wednesday that it would be inappropriate to discuss changes she's considering because current state Superintendent Tom Luna is still in office.

Instead, Ybarra says she is on a "silent tour," and focusing on gathering input from lawmakers and staffers.

An investment group is pitching a plan to build a commercial nuclear power plant in southeastern Idaho near the Idaho National Laboratory research facility.

The Post Register reports that Twin Buttes Enterprises LLC presented its plan to the Butte County Commission on Monday.

Twin Buttes was approved for a certificate of organization by the Idaho Secretary of State on Nov. 21.

Federal investigators say a Boise-based restaurant chain must pay $230,000 in unpaid overtime and damages to more than 50 workers.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Monday that Chapala Mexican Restaurant violated overtime laws at its Boise, Nampa, Garden City and McCall locations.

Authorities tell the Idaho Statesman that the restaurant owners also failed to pay cooks and tip employees for all hours worked.

Miguel Vieira / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report says Idaho could lose up to $111 million a year if the state took control of its federal public lands.

The University of Idaho's Policy Analysis Group report was requested by a legislative committee tasked with studying a state takeover of federal land in Idaho. The panel will finalize its recommendation Tuesday.

Officials with cheesemaker Glanbia Foods have announced an $82 million expansion of manufacturing plants in south-central Idaho.

The company in a statement on Thursday says the expansion at its headquarters in Twin Falls and a plant in Gooding will add up to 50 new jobs.

The company says the expansion will help meet demand for whey — a byproduct from cheese-making.

Idaho Dept. of Correction

The Idaho Board of Correction has appointed Kevin Kempf as the new director of prisons one week after his predecessor, Brent Reinke, gave his resignation notice.

The board made the appointment during a special meeting Wednesday, but the choice wasn't a surprise. Kempf has been with the department for 19 years and has served as the deputy director since 2013. That position was created by the board after Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said he wanted all of his state agencies to have a succession plan in place in case of an unexpected departure.

sheep, pasture, barn
Heidi Schuyt / Flickr Creative Commons

Scientists have found that, contrary to what many people think, killing wolves does not always reduce attacks on livestock.

Researchers at Washington State University found that for every wolf killed in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming over the past 25 years, there was a 5 percent increase in the sheep and cattle killed the next year. Livestock kills only started going down after overall wolf numbers were reduced by more than 25 percent.

The study was published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.

snow, tree, weather
Jim Bauer / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Forest Service's new supervisor for the 4-million-acre Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest in northern Idaho says the agency might offer more trees for sale.

Cheryl Probert says the Johnson Bar salvage and others projects related to the 9-square-mile fire last summer could increase timber harvest.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that Probert met on Monday with Clearwater County commissioners, who want more timber harvested.

Dixie National Forest, Utah, public lands
Jeff Turner / Flickr Creative Commons

A report released Monday shows Utah could afford to manage more than 30 million acres of public land within its borders if the state somehow took control of those acres from federal agencies.

State officials requested the economic study as part of a push to gain control of land in federal hands.

Utah's Republican governor and legislators argue local officials would be better land managers. They passed a 2012 law demanding the federal government hand over the land by 2015.

Idaho State Police say troopers have issued more speeding tickets since the speed limit increased to 80 mph along stretches of Interstate 84.

Spokeswoman Teresa Baker says state police wrote 2,066 speeding tickets on I-84 between July 24 and Nov. 13. That's up nearly 20 percent from the same period in 2013 when 1,731 speeding tickets were issued.

Speed limits on some rural stretches of interstates 84, 86 and 15 rose from 75 mph to 80.

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