Daniel Rowe / Flickr

A conservation group has filed a lawsuit contending the U.S. Forest Service is violating environmental laws by issuing grazing permits to central Idaho livestock growers with a long history of violating permit restrictions.

Western Watersheds Project in the lawsuit filed Wednesday says the Forest Service is issuing the permits knowing cattle grazers aren't following guidelines in the area that also includes the newly-formed White Clouds Wilderness.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

It’s 60 miles across, mostly hidden from view and vital to the economy of Idaho. Much of the time, the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer gets little attention, even from people who rely on it every day. Without it, farmland would disappear and cities from Twin Falls to Rexburg would dry up. As we begin our series on water in Idaho, we take a closer look at the state’s largest “body” of water, hidden underneath the Snake River Plain.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Idaho Fish and Game researchers are testing a new method of fish population control. The idea is to use a female hormone that causes male-born fish to produce eggs when they mature.

By using a hormonal treatment on the fish, the biologists hope to create a monosex trout population that will eventually be unable to breed, which could keep unwanted fish populations at bay in streams around the state.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Managers of the Boise National Forest say one small section of their jurisdiction is in crisis. But that small section is the Bogus Basin Resort, which means addressing this crisis is urgent and difficult.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Last year’s massive Soda Fire burned more than 400 square miles of rangeland in southwest Idaho and eastern Oregon. That includes the food source for the area's three wild horse herds.

gray wolf, wolves
U.S. Fish & Wildlife

A Boise State academic is studying what it takes for humans and large carnivores to live together in the same environment.

Neil Carter is an assistant professor at Boise State. His study tries to figure out how humans can successfully coexist with large carnivores, like bears, wolves and tigers.

He found that humans are already adapting to living with animals, as we encroach on their territory. But he also found that the animals are adapting, too, to changes brought by people.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Barber Dam in east Boise lost power one night in February of 2015. Once offline, the flow of water through the hydroelectic plant stopped – causing the river to run dry for about eight hours.

Simon Engel / Flickr

Last week, an Idaho environmental group accused a plastic bag producer of violating federal laws on reporting toxic waste.

Now the Idaho Conservation League says it was mistaken in its initial assessment. ICL says Novolex’s Jerome facility is in compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“We are pleased to say that Novolex has demonstrated to us that its Jerome facility was in compliance with EPA emission reporting requirements,” said Austin Hopkins, Conservation Assistant for the ICL.

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.”

Sean Maxwell / Flickr Creative Commons

If you're looking for something to do Saturday and have an interest in eco-friendly homes, you should consider checking out the straw bale house being built in East Boise.

Brad Smith / Flickr

Honeybees are dying off at an alarming rate. For several years, scientists have been looking at a number of factors that may be influencing their survival. Now, a University of Idaho scientist has found a working model that may explain why honeybee colonies collapse.

UI professor Brian Dennis built a mathematical model that shows the size of the beehive may be the critical factor in colony collapse disorder. That’s when too many bees in a hive die or disappear and the hive falls apart.

Legislature Live screenshot

A packed meeting at the Idaho statehouse this afternoon focused on the hot topic of federal lands. The House and Senate resource committees convened to welcome speakers from Utah advocating that public lands be transferred from the federal government to Western states. The meeting did not include any public testimony.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Fewer than three percent of those polled said the environment should be the first priority of state lawmakers. That's according to a new survey from Boise State University – which 1,000 Idaho residents took part in a month ago. Those surveyed rate protecting the environment far below economic growth. Respondents were mostly split along party lines, with Democrats more likely to prioritize the environment over Republicans.

Headwaters Economics

Between 1970-2014, rural counties with a lot of federal lands did better financially than those without as much federal control. That’s according to a new study by Headwaters Economics, a non-partisan think tank based in Montana.

Economist Megan Lawson led the study which drew averages from around the West. She says federal lands aren't necessarily the reason why those rural counties were better off, but that having federal land doesn't automatically spell economic ruin.

Provided by Lex Shapiro

Last week, the Idaho House passed a bill that would prohibit cities from banning the use of plastic grocery bags. If it becomes law, the bill would prevent the formation of local movements — like one Lex Shapiro was a part of in Hailey five years ago — to make the bags illegal.

The 21-year-old college student grew up in the Wood River Valley, where she learned a deep appreciation for the outdoors. 

With 70 percent of its land owned by the federal government, the Great Basin is known as America’s last frontier. It’s home to ghost towns, endless sagebrush and secretive government test sites. Paradoxically, the Great Basin also is the fastest growing urban region in the United States, thanks to the cities of Boise, Salt Lake City, Reno and Las Vegas that perch on its rim.

Courtesy of University of Idaho Photographic Services

Exercise is something we often talk about in January, usually in the context of getting healthier.

But here in Idaho, biologists and engineers are looking for ways to get fish more exercise. Specifically - trout, salmon, and steelhead raised in hatcheries. The idea is to force fish to work out so they're in better shape - and more likely to live - once they're released.

Right now, hatchery fish are raised in long, rectangular tanks called raceways. The tanks are hard to clean and sweeping out fish waste is expensive.

Gary Lane / Wapiti River Guides

This picture has been popping up on social media. It’s an unusual phenomenon known as an “ice circle.” And this one was spotted by an Idaho river guide who snapped this picture while heading out for a hunting trip several years ago.

Gary Lane is a river guide and photographer. He and his wife Barb run Wapiti River Guides out of Riggins. He took the photo in 2009.

“I was driving up the road along the Salmon River above Riggins and I saw that ice circle, so of course I had to get out and take a picture of it,” Lane says.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The little known Land and Water Conservation Fund turns 50 this year. The federal program has dispersed $17 billion over its lifetime. But now its future, and its mission of conserving open space in places like Idaho, is in limbo. Congress has let the fund lapse, and lawmakers are proposing some major changes.

Roger Phillips / Idaho Department of Fish and Game

It was a bad year for endangered sockeye salmon making their way home on the Columbia River. Unusually warm water in Northwest Rivers this summer killed off most of the returning fish. But quick action by fish managers means the few that survived could produce a record number of smolts.

This year was supposed to be a record run, with 4,000 fish headed home to Idaho from the Pacific Ocean. But in early July, water temperatures heated up in the Columbia system and the fish started to die off.