Samantha Wright

News Reporter/On-air Host

Samantha Wright is a news reporter and the local host for Boise State Public Radio's All Things Considered on weekday afternoons.

Her spot reporting, special projects, and audio production have been featured on Voice of America, National Public Radio News, This American Life, National Native News, the Northwest Radio Network and on The New York Times website. Samantha earned a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Use of Sound for her feature “Co-op Cooks.”  She also earned a first place award for Use of Sound for her feature “Canning Makes a Comeback” from PRNDI - Public Radio News Directors Incorporated. Samantha was a co-producer of the Idaho StoryCorps Project. The project was recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists.

J. Alleman / Bureau of Land Management

The Soda Fire was officially contained this week, at 445 square miles. Now thoughts turn to reclaiming the landscape southwest of Boise.

A team of 40 specialists spent five days in the field, surveying the burned area. Their goal is to find and fight threats to life, property and resources over the next three years.

T.J. Clifford is the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team Leader for the Soda Fire. The team is working for the Bureau of Land Management but is made up of people from multiple agencies.

Soda Fire

Wild horses that survived the Soda Fire now face another threat: starvation, after the fire burned their food supply. The Bureau of Land Management plans to rescue those animals and feed and house them until the landscape can recover.

Nicholas D. / Flickr

Smoke from wildfires continues to plague the Treasure Valley. Forecasters say things will get worse before they get better.

Winds are out of the northwest Friday and expected to be again Saturday. That will actually bring more smoke into the Treasure Valley.

Valerie Mills is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boise.

Boise National Forest

Three firefighters died after their vehicle crashed and was likely caught by flames as they battled a blaze in Washington State yesterday. Four other firefighters were injured.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NFIC) says 13 people have died battling the fires this year.

Driving is one of the leading causes of death for wildland firefighters. That can include driving to or from a fire, as well as on the fire line.

Randy Eardley of NFIC says every death is mourned.

U.S. Forest Service

Smoky skies, from dozens of western wildfires, have prompted the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to issue an air quality advisory for the entire state of Idaho.

Such advisories are typically issued for individual counties or cities.

s. Hellstrom / InciWeb

The Soda Fire along the Oregon border has burned 440 square miles. The majority of those miles is rangeland in Owyhee County and that’s bad news for ranchers. There could be long-term effects to ranchers in the area.

More than 26 percent of jobs in Owyhee County come from agriculture, two-thirds of which comes from livestock operations. There are 145,000 cows in the county — 36,000 of them are beef cattle.

InciWeb

The Soda Fire has burned more than 400 square miles of sage brush and rangeland 40 miles west of Boise. It’s just eight miles from Jordan Valley.

Ranchers and farmers are building firebreaks to protect their property. Power poles have burned up, leaving some without power. Despite the danger, the communities throughout the area are coming together to help those in need.

Alan Krakauer / Flickr

Idaho Fish and Game says it will allow hunters to shoot sage grouse next month, despite a multi-state effort to boost the bird’s numbers.

Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

A federal judge has sanctioned Idaho for misleading the court about medical and mental health care for inmates.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge David Carter means that the Idaho Department of Correction will remain under the court's supervision until at least the fall of 2017.

The health care legal battle between inmates at the Idaho State Correctional Institution and the state has been happening for more than three decades.

Zoo Boise

Zoo Boise welcomed a giant anteater baby in July and that furry pup can now be spotted by visitors at the zoo.  The pup and its mother, Gloria, spent the last few weeks inside their barn and have just now begun to explore their outdoor exhibit.

Anteaters are solitary animals and the father is currently in an exhibit next door to Gloria and her pup.

Screenshot / Idaho Public Television

It’s a multi-million dollar question that now stands before the Idaho Supreme Court: Should a ban on instant horse racing become law? This question was argued before the justices Tuesday.

The case is about instant horse racing machines, which some, like the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, argue are too close to illegal slot machines.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

When a person loses their sight, everyday tasks become a challenge. Walking across the street, reading a book - even hobbies can seem nearly impossible.  But one Idaho man is working to introduce visually impaired individuals to a whole new world of sound. He’s teaching the blind how to identify birds, using only their calls.

Steve Bouffard has his eyes closed and he’s listening intently on the edge of Veterans Memorial Park. He quickly identifies a song sparrow, using only the sound of its call.

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho had to dip into its bank account Monday to pay for three lawsuits the state has recently lost. The price tag is more than $800,000 dollars.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The City of Boise says the U.S. Department of Justice was incorrect when it accused the city of punishing people for being homeless.

The Department weighed in Thursday on a lawsuit that says homeless people receive tickets for sleeping in public spaces.

Travis Manion Foundation

A group of women from around the U.S. got together last week for a special trip along the Salmon River. They were the survivors of fallen military service members who came together to learn how to cope with the loss of their loved ones.

The trip is the brainchild of the Travis Manion Foundation. It is a non-profit group that helps veterans and families of the fallen. The foundation has led expeditions all over the country for spouses and fiancées of military members.

Macroscopic Solutions / Flickr

Idaho has its first human case of West Nile Virus for 2015. A woman in her 60’s who lives in Washington County got sick in late June.

Raemi Nolevanko is an epidemiologist for Southwest District Health. She says the woman had mild symptoms and did not go to the hospital.

“She was experiencing some pretty decent fatigue and then she mentioned fever, chills and some headache that she was having issues with,” says Nolevanko.

The woman is recovering.

Nolevanko says this first human case is right on schedule, based on last year's timeline.

Idaho National Guard

Idaho native and Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was caught up in a raid on a pot farm in California this week.

The Anderson Valley Advertiser reports Bergdahl was on the scene this week when the Mendocino County drug task force raided a property in Redwood Valley.

“He was visiting old friends when the local dope team arrived on a marijuana raid. Bergdahl, who is awaiting military court martial, had an Army pass allowing him to be in Mendocino County.” – Anderson Valley Advertiser

Kelly Magee / Bureau of Land Management

Horses, trainers and potential owners are gathering Friday and Saturday in Nampa to watch wild mustangs show off in the ring.

The Extreme Mustang Makeover is a chance for wild horses to get a new home. Each horse is hooked up with a trainer before the event. The horses are then taken to the makeover to show what they can learn in a short period of time.

Melinda Shelton / Flickr

A new study says the switch to a four-day school week isn’t saving Idaho school districts the kind of money they had expected. The Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho even found that some districts say their costs went up after the change.

Courtesy of American Center for Law and Justice

Iran's deputy foreign minister says Iranian diplomats discussed the case of Americans still held captive by Tehran. That includes Boise pastor Saeed Abedini. The issue was raised on the sidelines of negotiations in Vienna earlier this month that led to the landmark deal on curbing Iran's nuclear program.

Abbas Araghchi told reporters in the Iranian capital on Wednesday that cases of "imprisoned citizens" were discussed with their American counterparts during the nuclear talks.

He says "humanitarian" reasons had motivated the discussion but did not elaborate.

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