Environment

Wildlife
10:49 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Federal Wildlife Officials Analyzing 38,000 Comments On Idaho Wolf Derby

Credit Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Federal officials are going through some 38,000 comments concerning a proposed wolf- and coyote-hunting derby on public land in the east-central part of the state.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's extended comment period ended last Thursday concerning Idaho for Wildlife's request for a Jan. 2-4 competitive event near Salmon.

If the agency grants the permit it will be good for additional derbies for five years.

BLM officials are analyzing the impacts of an estimated 500 hunters on about 3 million acres of BLM land over a three-day period.

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Weather
5:45 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Is It Fall Yet? Idaho's October Is Unusally Warm And Dry

This map from the Nation Weather Service website Monday afternoon shows temperatures in the 80s in some places in southwest Idaho. The average high for Boise that day is 63 degrees.
Credit wrh.noaa.gov

After highs Monday about 15 degrees above average, temperatures in southern Idaho Tuesday should be below average. But so far, this fall has been unusually warm.

October days have averaged more than five-degrees warmer than what's typical for this time of year.  Through Monday, there were only four days this month the Treasure Valley did not reach the 70s.

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Salmon
11:53 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Coho Salmon Season To Open On Clearwater River

Idaho officials have approved a coho salmon fishing season on the Clearwater River following efforts by the Nez Perce Tribe to bring salmon back after they disappeared about 30 years ago.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday approved the sport fishing season that starts Friday and runs through Nov. 16.

Anglers will be allowed to keep two coho salmon per day and up to 10 for the monthlong season on portions of the Mainstem and Middle Fork Clearwater River.

Environment
6:22 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Cross-time Photos From Northwest Lookouts Reveal Big Changes

John Marshall photographs the Cascade Creek burn on the slopes of Mount Adams.

Originally published on Sat October 11, 2014 12:42 pm

The old saying goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words." That was the reaction of a U.S. Forest Service researcher when he rediscovered a trove of landscape panoramas called the Osborne Panoramas.

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Wildfires
5:32 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Inmate Crews Celebrated For Work On Summer Fires

Inmate firefighter Christopher Hindermann did two 14-day stints on the Carlton Complex Fire in north central Washington this summer.

This summer’s Carlton Complex wildfire was the largest in Washington history. Scores of firefighters battled the inferno in north Central Washington.

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Hunting
8:50 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Report Finds Minimal Environmental Impacts From Idaho Wolf, Coyote Hunting Derby

Credit Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr Creative Commons

Federal land managers in Idaho project minimal environmental damage from allowing a predator hunting derby to take place in the north-eastern part of the state.

That’s the finding of an environmental assessment released Wednesday. It’s part of a controversy that started last winter when hunters competed to kill wolves and coyotes during a two-day event.

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Wildfires
5:32 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Forest Service Budget Covers Firefighting Costs For First Time In 3 Years

Credit U.S. Forest Service

 A slow wildfire season in the U.S. means the Forest Service won’t have to dip into other parts of its budget to cover firefighting expenses. The federal government’s fiscal year ends Tuesday. It’s the first time in three years the agency’s firefighting allotment will cover actual costs.

The Forest Service exceeded its firefighting budget by $505 million last summer, and $440 million the year before.

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Wildlife
3:34 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Federal Judge Won't Give Wyoming Control Of Wolves

A federal judge has denied requests from the state of Wyoming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, and pro-hunting groups to change a decision last week that reinstates federal protections for wolves in the state.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday denied requests to change her ruling.

Wyoming had requested fast action on its reconsideration request because the state had planned to allow hunters to begin killing wolves Wednesday in an area bordering Yellowstone National Park. The judge's ruling bars any hunting.

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Wildlife
1:05 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Idaho Wolf, Coyote Hunting Derby Group Wants Permit For 1,500 Square Miles

Credit Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

A group that overcame a court challenge last winter to hold a wolf- and coyote-shooting derby is seeking a permit from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to roughly double the area for a second event this winter.

Steve Alder of Idaho for Wildlife says the tentative dates for the derby in the east-central part of the state are Jan. 2-3.

The BLM plans to make public an environmental analysis Thursday and take public comments for 15 days. The agency says about 1,500 square miles are involved.

Environmental groups say they will contest the permit.

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Energy
10:26 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Company Applies For Lease To Install 3,600 Solar Panels In Central Idaho

Credit Flickr Creative Commons

An alternative energy company has applied for a 50-year state lease to build a $2 million, 50-acre solar project in central Idaho.

Ketchum-based Sagebrush Solar wants to install about 3,600 solar panels on six acres in Ohio Gulch north of Hailey.

The company says the project would produce about 1.1 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 160 homes.

Sagebrush Solar owner Billy Mann tells the Idaho Mountain Express that the company has completed 60 smaller solar projects in the Wood River Valley.

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Wolves
1:07 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Federal Judge Puts Wyoming Gray Wolves Back On Endangered Species List

Credit U.S. Fish & Wildlife

A federal judge has relisted gray wolves in Wyoming. USA Today reports Judge Amy Berman Jackson decided Tuesday wolves in Wyoming should go back on the Endangered Species List.

This isn't the first time Wyoming has had trouble with its wolf plan.

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Disaster Planning
9:16 am
Wed September 24, 2014

North Idaho Counties Plan For Oil Spills As Rail Traffic Increases

Crude oil trains travel across northern Idaho at least twice a day.
Credit Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Three northern Idaho counties are creating strategies for containing an oil spill as more oil is moving through the inland Northwest on trains.

Trains carry crude oil from North Dakota across the Idaho Panhandle at least twice a day. They run along lakes and rivers, and sometimes cross right over the water.

That’s made local emergency response managers in Boundary, Bonner and Kootenai counties even more nervous about what would happen if a train derailed.

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Yellowstone
8:53 am
Wed September 24, 2014

German Man Banned From Yellowstone After Crashing Drone

A view of Yellowstone Lake from the Lake Butte Overlook.
Credit Neal Herbert / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr Creative Commons

A German citizen who crashed a drone into a lake in Yellowstone National Park this summer has been banned from the park for a year and was ordered to pay $1,600 in fines and restitution.

Andreas Meissner of Koenigswinter, Germany, was charged with four federal misdemeanors after a drone he was using to shoot video of a charity bicycle ride through the park crashed into Lake Yellowstone on July 18.

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Wildlife
3:56 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Idaho, Bonneville Power Company Reach $40M Agreement

The Bonneville Power Administration will pay Idaho about $40 million over 10 years to protect wildlife habitat in southern Idaho.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced the agreement Tuesday that's part of the utility's requirement to mitigate impacts that hydropower projects in southern Idaho have on wildlife.

The money will be paid to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

About $22 million will be used for restoration, acquisition and stewardship of at least 13.5 square miles of land. Another $4 million will be used to administer the program over 10 years.

Environment
5:45 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Why One Environmental Writer Compares Idaho’s Snake River To A Sewer

The Snake River near Twin Falls.
Credit Dave Shumaker / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho is famous for its crystal clear rivers. But these days, the Snake River is not one of them.

The Snake is the state’s largest river and it makes southern Idaho’s agriculture economy possible. But that industry is also polluting the Snake

The U.S. Geological Survey uses words like ‘degraded’ and ‘impaired’ to describe parts of the river. Richard Manning calls the Snake “Idaho’s sewer system.”

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Wildfires
9:55 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Idaho Ranchers And Feds Reach Truce On Long-Standing Battle Over Fighting Wildfires

Charlie Lyons of Mountain Home, Idaho helped form one of the first Rangeland Fire Protective Associations in the state.
Credit Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

For years there's been a battle raging between Idaho ranchers and the federal government over whether ranchers should be able to fight wildfires.

Ranchers say they've always just gone out there, with their trucks and tanks of water and try to put the fires out themselves. The feds have said, leave it to the pros and don't make yourself a liability.

At times it's almost come close to blows. But now a truce has been struck that could change the way fires are fought every summer.

High costs of wildfires

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Wildfire
11:15 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Wildfire Near Cascade Grows To 75 Acres

The cause of the Bull Fire is under investigation.
Credit Photo Courtesy Boise National Forest

This story was updated at 12:05 p.m. Sept. 22.

A small wildfire burning southeast of Cascade has grown to 75 acres. The Bull Fire is burning in a remote area on the Boise National Forest.

Forest officials say 115 firefighters are now working on the blaze.

No structures are threatened by the fire, but the forest has closed a handful of trails in the area.

It’s not clear what started the fire, its cause is under investigation.

This story was originally posted at 11:15 a.m. Sept. 19.

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Air Quality
4:50 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

You Can Blame Idaho’s Smoky Skies On California

Credit National Weather Service

The air quality in the Treasure Valley has dropped from good to moderate, thanks to a change in winds that’s bringing in smoke from the south. The National Weather Service in Boise reports the sudden influx of smoke into Idaho is due to a change in the wind pattern.

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Hunting
11:17 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Idaho Fish And Game Cracking Down On Illegal Spotlight Hunting

Credit Gary Beck / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Fish and Game Department is cracking down on an illegal hunting practice known as "jacklighting." Hunters pull over to the side of a road at night, get out of the car and shine a high powered spotlight on a hillside. Any dear or elk are frozen in place by the sudden glare. Then the hunters shoot.

Fish and Game says the practice is dangerous and unethical, so the department is taking further action to catch and prosecute perpetrators.

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Water
12:16 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Report: Ground Water Levels Have Dropped In Southern Wood River Valley

Stream near Sun Valley
Credit rickotto62 / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) finds that ground water levels have dropped in parts of the Wood River Valley.

USGS hydrologist Jim Bartolino’s team looked at changes in ground water and surface water between 2006 and 2012.

Bartolino says there are two distinct parts to the aquifer under the valley.

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