Environment

Victor Pozo / Flickr Creative Commons

The Montana man killed by a bear near Glacier National Park was intimately familiar with both the beauty and the danger of the wild forest that spreads from the shadows of the park's rugged peaks.

But there was seemingly nothing that former park ranger and longtime U.S. Forest Service law-enforcement officer Brad Treat could do when he surprised the bear on Wednesday. Authorities say the bear knocked him from his mountain bike on a trail in that forest just minutes from his home.

Talo Pinto / Flickr Creative Commons

Like much of Idaho, people in the Wood River Valley rely on groundwater. Now, water managers have a new way of understanding the way surface water and groundwater are connected in the region, and potential problems with the supply.  

Screengrab USDA.gov

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, four Idaho counties are in a state of disaster because of drought. The counties are Canyon, Owyhee, Payette and Washington. Farmers and ranchers there and in any adjacent counties can get federal money to help them through the year if they can prove the drought is hurting their production.

Penn State / Flickr Creative Commons

State and federal officials say Idaho faces an increased potential for rangeland wildfires in the south, but forested areas in the north are in better shape at this point than last year.

Wildland fire analyst Jeremy Sullens of the National Interagency Fire Center told the Idaho Land Board on Tuesday that a good snowpack has put more moisture in northern Idaho forests to delay the fire season.

But he says additional moisture in the southern part of the state has led to an increase in grasses that could fuel rangeland fires.

tribalclimatecamp.org

Representatives from Native American tribes are in McCall this week to talk about how they can adapt to climate change. Donald Sampson says Native Americans are and will continue to be more impacted by climate change than the rest of the country. That’s because climate changes are affecting their traditional food sources.

Tom Jefferson

An Idaho filmmaker is part of a desperate battle to help save the world’s smallest cetacean.

Last June, we first told you about Matthew Podolsky and his documentary on an Idaho man who's spent 35 years helping the state's bluebirds. But lately, Podolsky has been filming a short documentary in Mexico, trying to save what’s often called “the Panda of the Sea.”

Ian Jacobs / Flickr Creative Commons

Slender insects known as thrips have arrived in eastern Oregon and parts of Idaho much earlier than usual and they bring with them the possibility of spreading a virus that can devastate onion fields.

The Capital Press reports that thrips can transmit the iris yellow spot virus, which can wipe out onion fields. The virus was detected in onion plants in late May and officials say they were likely infected earlier in the month.

National Weather Service Boise/Bogus Basin

Spring in Boise means all types of weather, from sunny and hot - it was 101-degrees last Wednesday - to snow. Winter made a brief comeback Thursday at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area with clouds, fog, and some light snow.

The National Weather Service in Boise posted a time-lapse video of the winter weather on its Twitter account. 

NWS also posted photos from Brundage Mountain Resort, which got snow all day on Thursday. 

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.

Zoo Boise

Teenagers volunteering at Zoo Boise are helping to try and save one of the world’s most endangered mammals.

The teens are using an information booth to raise money for the Saola - a forest mammal that lives in Vietnam. The animal rocked the scientific world when, in 1992, scientists first discovered what turned out to be not just a brand new species, but a whole new genus.

These antelope-type creatures have two long curing horns on their heads and white spots on their faces. They are remarkably shy and gentle, and have never been seen alive in the wild by scientists.

Yasushi Ish / Flickr Creative Commons

The National Park Service is celebrating its centennial this summer. At the nation’s first park, attendance is on the rise. But deadly incidents this year at Yellowstone are reminders of the inherent wildness of the park.

Twenty-three-year-old Colin Scott was 225 yards away from the designated boardwalk at the Norris Geyser Basin when he apparently slipped and fell into a hot spring. Scott is the 22nd person known to have died in the park's acidic pools.

Matt Leidecker

It’s been almost a year since President Obama signed a bill establishing three new Wilderness areas in Idaho’s Boulder-White Cloud Mountains. With the designation comes tourism, and one writer wants to help more people explore the landscape.

Matt Leidecker has written five guidebooks, including one on Sun Valley and one on the Sawtooths. His fifth book, “Exploring the Boulder-White Clouds - A Comprehensive Guide,” comes out this month.

Mick Thompson / Flickr Creative Commons

The reward for information leading to the person or persons who illegally killed a federally protected grizzly bear in eastern Idaho is up to $15,600.

The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday announced it's contributing $5,000.

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust also on Thursday announced they're offering $5,000.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already offered $5,000 to the reward that includes $600 from the Citizens Against Poaching.

Phil Morrisey / National Resources Conservation Service

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) relies on data from mountain measuring tools known as SNOTEL sites to forecast how much water Idaho will have each year. This information helps farmers determine which crops to grow (a drier year means they may choose less water-intensive crops) and gives water managers data to plan for flood control. Recreationists use the data to figure out the wildest rivers to ride in the summer.

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.

A wildfire burning in grass and sagebrush has scorched about 180 acres in southwest Idaho but is expected to be controlled Monday afternoon.

Fire spokesman Rob Hansen of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management says crews responded just before 1 p.m. Sunday to a fire about 15 miles southeast of Murphy.

He says a small air tanker, four engines and two bulldozers participated in getting the fire contained by 10 p.m. Sunday.

Hansen says the fire had the potential to burn a wide area, but quick response by the Grand View Fire Department and then BLM crews helped contain it.

Jimmy Emerson / Flickr Creative Commons

Water banking is something you’ve probably heard of in stories about California’s drought. The idea is that if you’re a farmer with a water right and have more water than you need for that year, you can sell it to another farmer in the system who needs more.

“Idaho’s actually somewhat on the forefront of water banking," says Neeley Miller of the Idaho Department of Water Resources, "and I think what the board would like to do is enhance those mechanisms.”

Five conservation groups on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Idaho seeking to stop a federal agency from killing wolves in the state until a new environmental analysis is prepared.

Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project and four other groups in the 27-page federal lawsuit say the 2011 analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services is outdated.

 

Erin McClure / Boise State Public Radio

In 2014, an analysis in Ada County determined that nearly half of the trash being thrown out by residential households was organic waste, such as food scraps, yard debris, and compostable paper. Now, in an effort to reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill, the City of Boise has announced plans for a public composting program.

Boise city staff presented the first details of the composting program proposal at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting. City spokesman Mike Journee says it’s been dubbed ‘Curb It 2’ and will be an extension of Curb It, the city’s recycling system.

Federal authorities have fined an Idaho food processing company $273,000 following the release of a dangerous gas.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Tuesday announced the fine against Dickinson Frozen Foods.

Authorities say the large release of anhydrous ammonia in December 2015 at its eastern Idaho plant in Sugar City where it processes potatoes didn't cause any injuries but other major ammonia releases at the facility have.

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