Associated Press

John Miller / AP Photo

Two federal agencies have approved a 2.4-mile-long open pit phosphate mine proposed by a Canadian company in southeastern Idaho.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service late last week issued separate decisions approving the plan by Calgary-based Agrium Inc.

The BLM manages the area where the mining will occur, while the Forest Service manages land that will receive waste materials.

AP

Visits to U.S. national parks set a record in 2016 for the third consecutive year as landmarks such Zion, Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain experienced historic levels of popularity that brought collateral headaches stemming from overcrowded roads and trails and increasing visitor misbehavior.

At many parks, visitors waited an hour or more in cars to get through entrance gates and then spent the day trying to outmaneuver fellow visitors for parking spots and room on popular trails. They left behind enormous amounts of trash and sometimes, human waste.

Courtesy Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and backers of a proposed for-profit osteopathic medical school have been touting the 78 new medical residency positions the proposed school claims to have created.

But an Associated Press review shows those residency spots don't yet exist, and the accreditation board responsible for approving them has denied the first step in the process of creating them. A separate accreditation board has also deferred a decision on whether to grant the proposed Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine pre-accreditation status.

AP

A change in U.S. House rules making it easier to transfer millions of acres of federal public lands to states is worrying hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts across the West who fear losing access.

Lawmakers earlier this month passed a rule eliminating a significant budget hurdle and written so broadly that it includes national parks.

President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Interior secretary, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, voted for the rule change as did many other Republicans. The Senate would have to weigh in on public land transfers as well.

Rick Bowmer / AP

Leaders of an armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in rural Oregon were driving to a public meeting a year ago when police shot and killed one of them at a roadblock.

Now, LaVoy Finicum's widow and their children are planning to hold that meeting later this month in the same town, John Day. Speakers are slated to talk about the Constitution, property rights and other issues.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

UPDATE: 3:24 p.m.: Five Idaho lawmakers surprised the House floor Monday by asking Speaker Scott Bedke to remove them from their committee assignments in a defiant act of solidarity with a female colleague recently admonished for comments on the mobility of women.

Republican Reps. Ron Nate, Priscilla Giddings, Dorothy Moon, Christy Zito, and Karey Hanks made their requests one-by-one on the House floor, sparking murmurs of surprise and criticism among some members on the floor but getting no response from Bedke.

Lawrence Wasden
Idaho Public Television

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden's office says it will not file criminal charges after being asked to review possible voter intimidation and interference in northern Idaho.

Deputy Attorney General Paul Panther sent a letter earlier this week alerting the Bonner County prosecutor's office that he did not find evidence of malicious harassment or stalking.

AP

A new Idaho lawmaker has said he plans to sponsor a bill during the upcoming legislative session that would classify abortion as first-degree murder for mothers and doctors.

Sen. Dan Foreman's abortion bill would exempt mothers and doctors in cases where the mothers' lives are endangered, The Lewiston Tribune reported Wednesday.

"How can a woman tell her unborn child it has to die?" the Moscow Republican asked. "Who represents the child?"

The Idaho National Laboratory contributed $1.9 billion to the state's economic output in fiscal year 2016, about 20 percent more than 2015.

The Post Register reports that according to a new report by Rexburg's Research & Business Development Center, the lab's gross economic activity made up 2.9 percent of the state's total economic fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.

State of Idaho Public Defense Commission.

Idaho's Supreme Court will soon decide whether to revive an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the state over its faulty public defense system.

Attorneys on both sides told the high court Wednesday that they agree Idaho's public defense system has serious deficiencies. But the state's attorneys say the blame should lie on the counties, not Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and the state's Public Defense Commission.

Idaho lawmakers underwent a half-day of ethics training Wednesday as part of an ongoing effort by legislative leaders to discourage behavior that damages public confidence in government.

"None of us in this room plan on acting unethically," said Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill of Idaho Falls. "Nor do I think we are going to have a problem this year. But I do think we need to be reminded and rededicate ourselves."

Jim Urquhart / AP Photo

Federal officials are delaying their decision on whether to lift protections for more than 700 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park and allow hunting, amid opposition from dozens of American Indian tribes and conservation groups.

Officials had planned to finalize the proposal to turn jurisdiction on grizzlies over to state officials in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming by the end of 2016.

USDA

A new federal report shows snowpack levels and water supply projections are above average in the mountains of eastern Idaho and across much of the state.

The Post Register reports the Natural Resource Conservation Service released a study Tuesday showing that eastern Idaho and western Wyoming had among the highest snowpack percentages in the state. The report covered October to Jan. 1.

Associated Press

Environmental groups are asking a federal court to halt 11 infrastructure projects on four lower Snake River dams in Washington state that could ultimately be removed if a pending review determines the dams need to come out in order to help salmon.

The 45-page notice filed late Monday in Portland, Oregon, estimates the cost of the projects at $110 million.

AP

Astronaut and teacher Barbara Morgan is the first recipient of Idaho's highest civilian honor.

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced Morgan's achievement after his annual State of the State address on Monday.

Morgan was an elementary teacher in McCall before joining NASA's Teacher in Space program. She later trained as a NASA mission specialist and flew on the Endeavor space shuttle in 2007.

The Idaho Medal of Achievement was created in 2015.

Samantha Wright/Boise State Public Radio

Legal challenges have been filed against Idaho officials over a groundwater management area created in November.

AP

Update, 1:08 p.m.:

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's top priority for Idaho lawmakers is to focus on education in 2017.

Otter announced his short wish list during his annual State of the State address Monday afternoon.

The Republican governor proposed a 4.6 percent increase — roughly a $189 million funding bump — to the state's overall budget. More than 60 percent of that would go toward education, including more funding for teacher salaries and higher education facilities.

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

A judge has rejected Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's lawsuit contending the Obama administration acted illegally by imposing federal land-use restrictions intended to protect the sage grouse in Idaho and southwestern Montana.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in dismissing the lawsuit Thursday didn't rule on the merits of the claims but said Otter lacked standing because the state didn't prove it had been injured.

Because Otter lacked standing, the court says it doesn't have jurisdiction and dismissed the lawsuit.

Michael Kappel / Flickr Creative Commons

Officials in southwest Idaho's highly populated Ada County say they've deployed their entire fleet of snow removal equipment and contracted with private entities for more as a winter storm moves through.

The Ada County Highway District on Wednesday says 58 pieces of equipment ranging from snow plows to anti-icing units are in action and that six private road graders have also been hired.

The National Weather Service says about 5 inches of snow have fallen in the last 24 hours in the snowstorm expected to last until late Wednesday in an area that includes Boise.

Idaho Governor's Office

Attorney Robyn Brody has been sworn in as the newest justice on the Idaho Supreme Court.

KTVB-TV reports that Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter administered the oath of office Tuesday at the Idaho Statehouse.

Brody won a seat on the state's highest court in November in a runoff election against opponent Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie, of Nampa. The last time there was a runoff election for an Idaho Supreme Court seat was in 1998.

Pages