Environment

Jim Urquhart / AP Photo

Protections that have been in place for more than 40 years for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park area will be lifted this summer after U.S. government officials ruled Thursday that the population is no longer threatened.

Blaine County Sheriff / Facebook

The Big Wood River again rose above flood stage this week. It’s the fifth time since early May. Damage assessments from the devastating flood season are finally set to get underway.

State and federal emergency management officials will meet with county and city leaders in the Wood River Valley the week of June 26 to examine the toll spring flooding took on infrastructure in the region.

Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

It’s Mid-May, I’m at the Boise airport, hopping in a Cessna with pilot Don Reiman and Kevin Lewis, the director of Idaho Rivers United. We’re going to “fly the flood,” to see what the swollen rivers and reservoirs look like from the air, especially along the Boise and Big Wood rivers.

There has been months of flooding on Idaho rivers, with a reservoir system that’s been straining at capacity, as the deep winter snowpack has slowly melted off. Now, in the second half of June, the floodwaters are receding.

Don sketches out the flight path.

Ada County Highway District

A new online map is giving Boise bicyclists a break during a time when many of their preferred pathways are closed.

Bikers have faced challenges since much of the Boise Greenbelt closed down due to the flooded Boise River. Though the water is receding, many parts of the 25-mile pathway were damaged by extensive flooding and remain closed.

Finding alternate routes around the handy bike path has been tough, but the Ada County Highway District has a new online map to help.

Catherine Chanel / Flickr

As floodwaters in the Wood River Valley recede, residents and officials are getting their first look at damage caused by a season of high water.

For six weeks the Big Wood River has inundated parts of Hailey. With summer just days away, the high spring flows are finally ebbing. As the river recedes, damage to homes, roads and electrical equipment that was underwater is finally coming into view.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise River, which has been over flood stage for months, will drop below that level Thursday. The river has dropped dramatically this week.

The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been dropping the amount of water released into the river all week. The river started dropping over the weekend, then fell 500 cubic feet per second on Tuesday and 1,000 cfs on Wednesday.

It will drop another 500 cfs Thursday morning. That will drop the river level at the Glenwood Bridge to 6,750 cfs, that brings it below flood stage which is 7,000 cfs.

Screengrab / Natural Resources Conservation Service

By now many of us have seen the teacup diagram from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation showing the remaining capacity of reservoirs in the Boise and Payette River Basins.

To nerd out even more about this exceptional water year, it's best to dig in to the June water supply report from the National Resources Conservation Service.

Climate March
Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

This past winter Southern Idaho experienced one of its snowiest and coldest on record. So we can’t be blamed for wanting to look ahead into the summer. But one organization wants us to look back again.

Rita Poe/Estate of Rita Poe / via AP Photo

Nancy Zingheim barely knew Rita Poe when Poe approached her office at a Washington state RV park. Poe, a shy registered nurse, had a request for the RV park business manager: Could Zingheim help her with her will?

Weeks later, the 66-year-old Poe died of colorectal cancer. In her will, she left nearly $800,000 to a dozen national wildlife refuges and parks, mostly in the American West. She named Zingheim the executor.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a departmental review of how the greater sage grouse is protected. 

The sage grouse lives in 11 western states, and its habitat spans more than 40 million acres. The bird’s population has declined significantly in recent decades, as natural resource development expanded in some states.

In 2015, the Obama administration decided not to put the bird on the Endangered Species List, in exchange for a habitat-wide approach to preserving the animal. That plan restricts oil, gas and mining development in sage grouse country.

Zoo Boise

Zoo Boise is worried about the safety of its animals, as flood waters continue to rise along the Boise River. The city, which owns the zoo, is building a "Muscle Wall" to keep the water back. The flood barrier will be 2,000-feet-long and two-to-four feet tall.

City engineers say it will be similar to the flood barrier that was built to protect a gravel pit near Eagle Island.

Boise River Garden City whitewater
Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise River is running at some of the highest levels seen so far this season. Along with flooding around Eagle Island State Park, the river is also causing problems in Garden City.

Water managers say they have no plans to lessen the flow of the Boise River anytime soon. With temperatures expected to top out around a hundred tomorrow in Boise and conditions looking to be toasty across much of southern Idaho, lots of mountain snow will melt. That means more runoff coming into the reservoir system.

idaho gold mine
Michallaurence / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials have started an environmental analysis of a Canadian company's proposal for three open-pit gold mines in central Idaho.

The U.S. Forest Service said Monday it's preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for a plan by Midas Gold Corp. to unearth what it says are an estimated 4 million ounces of gold.

Company officials say the 20-year project about 3 miles east of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness would generate 1,000 well-paying jobs and save taxpayers money by cleaning up past mining activities.

Mookie Forcella / Flickr

With flooding affecting much of southern Idaho this spring, the National Weather Service revised its predictions on just how high the Big Wood River will rise.

Last week, the Weather Service projected the Big Wood reaching a peak of 7.88 ft. on Friday. While it didn’t get that high – the river topped out at 7.57 feet that day – meteorologists expect the river to approach the record of 7.93 ft. Tuesday.

Boise Police Department

The Boise River is rising again, to what officials say will be the highest levels so far this year.

Flows from the Lucky Peak Dam will go up Friday morning. An additional 500 cubic feet per second of water will be released. That will bring the flow to 9,300 cfs at the Glenwood Bridge gauge. That’s the highest flow this Spring since officials started pushing more and more water through the river to make room for melting snow in the mountains above Boise.

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