Environment

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.

Mark Davis

As the weather turns toward summer, bee colonies in Idaho are starting to expand. Every year, old colonies split away from the hive and go looking for a new home. It’s called Honey Bee Swarming and it happens from March through August.

Mark Davis says this year’s swarming is getting a late start, because of all the wet weather. Known as Treasure Valley’s “Bee Man,” Davis is the founder of the nonprofit, family-based Treasure Valley Bee Rescue, a group that will relocate swarms rather than exterminating them.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife / Associated Press

Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Department is holding a second hearing on a wolf plan Friday in Portland. The plan is unpopular with ranchers and wolf supporters alike.

Oregon didn’t have documented wolves before 2005. Since then, thanks to the animals crossing over the border from Idaho, Oregon now has 11 packs, totaling at least 112 wolves. Twelve years ago, the state adopted a plan to manage the wolves but wants to revise it now that the population is growing.

The Peregrine Fund/Bosch WebCam

The Peregrine Fund announced this week that four American Kestrel eggs have hatched in the well-watched nest in Boise. It is the sixth year the birds have raised a family live on a webcam.

The female laid the first egg on March 27 and four other eggs slowly followed. Usually eggs are laid every other day but the Peregrine Fund says a storm slowed the process down this year. After some fits and starts, four of the five eggs hatched over the weekend.

Cathleen Allison / AP Photo

A new study of sage grouse in Eastern Washington found a surprisingly large benefit from a federal program that subsidizes farmers to plant year-round grasses and native shrubs instead of crops.

The study concluded that is probably the reason that sage grouse still live in portions of Washington's Columbia River Basin.

"Without these lands, our models predict that we would lose about two thirds of the species' habitat, and that the sage grouse would go extinct in two of three sub-populations," said Andrew Shirk of the University of Washington's Climate Impacts Group.

Scott Ki / Boise State Public Radio

A couple of truckloads of sheep were delivered by truck to 8th Street above the Foothills Learning Center Monday. They are slowly heading north.

For experienced Boise Foothills trekkers, spotting sheep wandering through the scrub and pathways in the spring is not so unusual. But not everybody is familiar with the story of Frank Shirts and his sheep.

Shirts is a real-life sheep rancher with 12 bands (groups) of sheep. That adds up to about 28,000 ewes and lambs each year.

Dave Thomas / Flickr

The warm temperatures late last week are being blamed for rising flood waters in parts of Blaine and Elmore Counties.

Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

As dam officials bump up the water flow on the Boise River yet again this week, it’s a good time to take a look at the numbers that matter during this flooding event.

This week, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to raise the water level at the Glenwood Bridge to 8,500 cubic feet per second. As of Wednesday, crews were pushing 9,240 cfs of water out of Lucky Peak Dam. Gina Baltrusch with the Walla Walla District of the Corps says about 1,000 cfs is being diverted into irrigation canals and the rest is flowing down the Boise.

Eddie Welker / Flickr

Counties in all parts of the state have declared various, weather related emergencies. As of Tuesday, 27 counties were listed as being impacted by weather conditions to the point of emergency status.

The latest counties to get disaster status are in the northern part of the state; yesterday Governor Butch Otter declared states of emergency in Latah, Benewah, Shoshone, Clearwater, Bonner, Kootenai and Boundary Counties due to fears of avalanches and flooding.

ZapWizard / Flickr

Officials at the federal, state and local levels will begin evaluating flood damage in Cassia County in the next few weeks following one of the most brutal winters in decades.

Cathy / Flickr Creative Commons

As residents of a subdivision in Blaine County continue feeding elk, the county is taking them to court over the rule violations.

A herd of around 70 elk descended on the Golden Eagle Ranch development north of Hailey in December. Driven to lower elevations by the harsh winter weather, the residents of the development said the animals were eating everything from patio furniture to decorative wreaths.

After hearing about increased emergency feeding efforts on the part of Idaho Fish and Game, some residents of the subdivision started feeding the animals.

Tom Jefferson

Last June we told you the story of an Idaho man trying to save a tiny porpoise species in Mexico. Today we have an update to that story, and a new film that looks at vaquitas and their plight.

John Miller / AP Photo

Two federal agencies have approved a 2.4-mile-long open pit phosphate mine proposed by a Canadian company in southeastern Idaho.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service late last week issued separate decisions approving the plan by Calgary-based Agrium Inc.

The BLM manages the area where the mining will occur, while the Forest Service manages land that will receive waste materials.

Associated Press

Environmental groups are asking a federal court to halt 11 infrastructure projects on four lower Snake River dams in Washington state that could ultimately be removed if a pending review determines the dams need to come out in order to help salmon.

The 45-page notice filed late Monday in Portland, Oregon, estimates the cost of the projects at $110 million.

sage grouse, wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

The Obama administration offered five possible plans Thursday for limiting mining on federal land in the West to protect the vulnerable greater sage grouse, but it isn't saying which it prefers.

The options range from banning new mining activity on about 15,000 square miles for up to 20 years to imposing no additional restrictions on mine locations.

The rules would affect sage grouse habitat on federal land in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

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