Environment

Miguel Vieira / Flickr Creative Commons

A committee of Idaho lawmakers tasked with looking at the possibility of acquiring federal lands - and putting them under state control - has issued a report to the full Legislature. 

The committee of nine  lawmakers and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney was formed as a way to explore sentiments on the issue, and to see if there’s a legitimate way for Idaho to take over control of federal land.

deq.idaho.gov

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) this week released several reports on important aquifers around the country. Idaho’s Snake River Plain Basin features in two of those reports. About a fifth of Idahoans rely on that aquifer as their only source of drinking water.

Government agriculture officials will kill up to 5,000 ducks, geese, chickens, pheasants and turkeys due to a bird flu outbreak at a hunting operation Washington's Okanogan county.

TheJesse / Flickr Creative Commons

Forty-four staffers who worked for U.S. Sen. Frank Church have sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to designate a national monument in central Idaho.

The letter dated Tuesday notes that the Idaho Democrat worked to preserve much of the state's wild areas during his 24 years in the Senate and that the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is named in his honor.

A plan by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho to designate a wilderness in the area has failed for years, though Simpson is working another effort.

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

This story was updated Jan. 23, 2015.

Idaho biologists say the number of wolves is likely declining, but their count of breeding pairs of wolves -- a key number used to measure the health of the state’s wolf population -- has actually gone up.

Initial estimates suggested the number of breeding pairs could be as low as 15. But Idaho Fish & Game biologist Jim Hayden said that they have been able to confirm at least 22 breeding pairs, up two from last year’s count.

Michael / Flickr Creative Commons

Avian influenza, or bird flu, is in Idaho. The virus is usually spread by wild waterfowl to domestic birds and has recently been found in Oregon, Washington, Utah, and California.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to remove Western juniper from a 1.5 million-acre area of public land in southwest Idaho to conserve sage grouse habitat.

BLM Boise District Manager Jim Fincher in a statement Friday says conserving habitat for sage grouse is a key method for improving an entire rangeland ecosystem.

The agency is hosting two public meetings to provide information about the plan in Owyhee County. The first is in Boise on Feb. 4 and the second in Murphy on Feb. 5.

Comments can also be sent to the agency by Feb. 20.

Dredging of the Lower Snake River started Monday after a delay of several weeks due to a court challenge.

Jason / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Forest Service is asking for public comment on plans to build a road and bring drilling equipment to a remote area of Idaho's Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

American Independence Mines and Mineral Company wants to turn a profit on gold ore near Big Creek on the Payette National Forest.

National Weather Service Boise

If you've ever wondered what it's like to watch a mountain lake freeze before your eyes, you're in luck. A timelapse video of Redfish Lake shows the ice creeping across the water in a matter of seconds.

The webcam responsible for catching this footage is set up by the Sawtooth Interpretive and Historical Association. Gary Gadwa is in charge of the nonprofit.

State officials say they plan to fine the federal government $3,600 per day for missing a deadline to remove nuclear waste from a southeast Idaho nuclear facility.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality says the U.S. Department of Energy missed a Dec. 31 deadline to ship nuclear waste out of the Idaho National Laboratory.

Tony Morris / Flickr Creative Commons

A Boise State University professor will help decide the future of fire management on greater sage grouse habitat.

Political science and public policy professor John Freemuth is part of a national group of experts who will report to the new Rangeland Fire Task Force. This week, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell created the task force.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is calling for a new wildfire-fighting strategy that protects sagebrush country in the intermountain West that supports cattle ranching as well as a struggling bird species.

She issued an order Tuesday seeking a "science-based" strategy that safeguards the greater sage grouse while contending with fires that have been especially destructive in the Great Basin region of Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and California.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Tow boat captains, wheat exporters, and the directors of the farthest inland ports in the Northwest are breathing easier today.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart Monday rejected an environmental and tribal challenge to dredging of the lower Snake River.

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Hunters participating in a wolf- and coyote-shooting contest in east-central Idaho killed 30 coyotes but no wolves.

Idaho for Wildlife's Steve Alder says the Predator Hunting Contest and Fur Rendezvous that ran Friday through Sunday near Salmon drew less than 100 hunters, down slightly from last year.

A 4.9-magnitude earthquake struck about 60 miles to the north of Salmon on Saturday and was followed by aftershocks on Sunday.

Custer County officials in central Idaho say there's no damage from an earthquake that shook the area Monday morning.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 3.7-magnitude temblor occurred about 10:20 a.m. and was located about a mile east of Challis and about a mile deep.

Linda Lumpkin of the Custer County Sheriff's Office says the quake was widely felt among residents in the sparsely populated area.

But she says residents are used to the ground shaking after a swarm of quakes up to 4.9 in magnitude last spring that peaked in mid-April.

grizzly, bear, yellowstone
Neal Herbert / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr

An advocacy group has petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce grizzly bears into the Selway-Bitterroot area of Idaho and Montana.

The Center for Biological Diversity said Thursday that it hopes to revive a stalled recovery plan for the animals that was finalized in 2000.

The group says having bears in the Selway-Bitterroot would help connect grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park with other populations of the animals in Montana and Idaho. It says the 16-million-acre area could support 300 to 600 bears.

New research could have implications for cattle and sheep grazing in the habitat of a ground-dwelling bird that environmentalists say needs federal protection across the Rocky Mountain region.

A study published in the December issue of Wildlife Biology examines the relationship between nesting success by the greater sage grouse and the height of grass nearby.

Environmental groups including WildEarth Guardians say the study is cause for concern about livestock grazing in sage grouse habitat. Others say grazing can improve habitat for sage grouse.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making a high-stakes bet that it will prevail in a pending lawsuit over Snake River dredging.

The work of rearing threatened plants and animals for restoration to the wild takes time and patience and it is labor intensive. In Oregon and Washington, a growing population doing that work is inmates.

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