BLM

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The U.S. Bureau of Land Management violated environmental law in its plan to sterilize a herd of wild horses in southwestern Idaho, according to a recent ruling from a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge ruled Friday the BLM failed to analyze consequences of the action and ordered the agency to reconsider its decision.

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With wildfires burning throughout southern Idaho and smoke from fires in neighboring states polluting the air, fire restrictions are beginning across much of the state this week.


Bureau of Land Management

President Donald Trump’s budget request, released this week, includes a provision changing how the Bureau of Land Management manages wild mustangs in the West.

Both the BLM and its detractors agree there are too many wild horses on the landscape. Erin Curtis is the Deputy State Director of Communications for BLM Idaho.

“We cannot keep up with what’s happening out on the range and overpopulation,” says Curtis.

In a story Feb. 23 about a lawsuit involving a wolf- and coyote-shooting contest in Idaho, The Associated Press reported erroneously the disposition of the suit. The judge dismissed part of the lawsuit, not the entire lawsuit, and a decision on an action the groups have against the U.S. Forest Service involving Idaho for Wildlife's predator contest is pending.

A corrected version of the story is below:

wild horses, nevada, wildlife
James Marvin Phelps / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials say they plan to capture 150 wild horses starting later this month in central Idaho near Challis and remove about 50 for adoption.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management in a news release Tuesday says the capture will likely go through mid-April using a large-scale bait trap operation.

Officials say the Challis Wild Horse Herd Management Area is under a court decree to maintain wild horse numbers within appropriate management levels.

Officials say that number is up to 253 horses, but the current population is over 280 horses.

Rick Bowmer / AP Images

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell made her final stop in Boise Tuesday during her last month as an Obama administration official. Jewell was briefed by wildfire officials at the National Interagency Fire Center about a landmark policy she put in place during her tenure.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Interior Department has updated a rule that governs activities like ranching, mining and gas drilling on federal land. Obama Administration officials say they aim to simplify the process for land development, while building in more transparency and public input.

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A draft management plan for two recently created central Idaho wilderness areas prohibits campfires at high elevations to protect whitebark pine and eliminates horses and other recreational stock in some areas to protect alpine soils.

The U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced Monday the availability of the 67-page document intended to guide management of the 138-square-mile Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness and the 142-square-mile White Clouds Wilderness.

BLM Boise District

Federal officials are proposing one of the largest ever projects to remove juniper trees to protect habitat for imperiled sage grouse.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced Monday that it's taking public comments through Jan. 3 on the plan to eliminate trees from 940 square miles in southwest Idaho.

Experts say juniper trees have expanded to displace sage brush needed by the bird in many places in the West due to fire suppression efforts and other human activities.

Federal officials have approved the first geothermal project on Idaho's public land since the 1980s.

The Times-News reports that the Burley Bureau of Land Management has given the go-ahead for Walker Ranch Energy's geothermal project, which will include a plant about 13 miles south of Malta.

The power plant will be built on private property, but up to 22 wells will be drilled on 200 acres managed by the Burley BLM office. The operation is expected to eventually produce 25 megawatts of energy.

Inciweb

The Wildland Fire Leadership Council is meeting for the first time in Boise. The national committee was created in 2002, and includes officials from different national and state firefighting agencies. They meet regularly, often not leaving Washington D.C.

Wednesday, the group is getting a chance to see the effects of wildfire in the Great Basin firsthand.

James Marvin Phelps / Flickr Creative Commons

The Cherry Road Fire burned about 55 square miles in eastern Oregon, just on the other side of the Idaho border, near Homedale. The wildfire has been contained, but did significant damage to a heavily-used wild horse pasture.

Ben Amstutz / Flickr Creative Commons

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials have decided to reaffirm their previous decision to close a popular hot spring near Boise. The decision to close the hot spring for five years comes after failed attempts over the last year from citizen groups to keep Skinny Dipper Hot Spring open.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal authorities have rejected a request by an irrigation company in southeastern Idaho to build a dam on the Bear River.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday voted to deny Twin Lakes Canal Company's license application for a 109-foot-high dam with a 10-megawatt powerhouse.

Commissioners say the project would inundate the Bureau of Land Management's Oneida Narrows Research Natural Area with resulting loss of recreation, wildlife and fishing resources that could not be replaced.

Soda Fire

The Bureau of Land Management has fined an Idaho woman who attempted to rescue an emaciated wild horse.

The Post Register reports that the BLM fined Cynthia Stoetzer $275 for attempting to move the animal she encountered while riding her horse in Utah in April.

Stoetzer says she felt compelled to follow her heart, so she loaded the mustang into her horse trailer and took it to the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab. BLM took the horse back the next day and brought it to its ranch in Axtell, Utah.

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