Environment

Water
7:57 am
Thu March 13, 2014

How One Snowstorm Can Change Idaho's Seasonal Water Outlook

Brian McInerney is a hydrologist with the National Weather Service.
Credit Julie Rose / For Boise State Public Radio

Randy Julander measures snowpack for the U.S. government’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. It’s his job to tell water users what they can expect to see flowing down their streams and irrigation canals come spring.

When Julander answered my recent phone call, he was way up in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. He was having some mixed feelings.

"Gosh, it’s clear skies and the sun is hotter than a two-dollar pistol. I’m sitting here at 8,500 feet and in shirt sleeves," Julander said.

"Does that seem like a good sign?" I asked.

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Avalanche
3:15 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Incredible Post-Avalanche Photo Shows What It Will Take To Clear Idaho's Highway 21

The Idaho Dept. of Transportation took this photo March 11, 2014. You can see an ITD employee in orange standing in the middle of the frame, on what should be the road.
Credit Credit Courtesy Idaho Department of Transportation

Underneath all that snow, ice, and tree debris is Idaho's Highway 21. Somewhere. This dramatic image from the Idaho Department of Transportation shows just how much work is ahead for road crews in clearing off a 12-mile section of the scenic road south of Stanley. That orange dot near the middle of the image is an ITD crew member.

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Water
12:22 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Latest Snowpack Map Shows Continued Improvement In Idaho's Water Supply

Click on the map to enlarge.
Credit NRCS/USDA

The latest map showing the water content of Idaho’s snowpack reveals the state continues to make up significant deficits seen early this winter.

Idaho has 21 basins where the Natural Resources Conservation Service measures snow accumulation and then assesses how the water content compares to that of a normal year. As of Thursday, all but five are at 80 percent of their average, or greater.

The Boise River basin is at 95 percent. The Payette River basin is 94. Most areas in central, northern and eastern Idaho are now above 100 percent of their normal snowpack levels.

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Water
6:54 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Columbia River Drawdown Continues To Take Pressure Off Wanapum Dam

The crack is at the bottom of the fourth spillway pier from the left in this photo.
Grant County PUD

Water behind the Wanapum Dam near Vantage, Wash., is being drawn down 26 feet to relieve pressure on the big crack in the structure.

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Environment
9:10 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Interactive Map Pinpoints Idaho, U.S. Wind Turbines

A screenshot of the USGS map known as windFarm.
Credit usgs.gov

If you’ve driven across southern Idaho in the past few years, you’ve no doubt seen a lot of wind turbines. But have you ever wondered how many there are? Now you can count them and get stats on each one with a new interactive map.

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Avalanche
2:20 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Blaine County Identifies Snowmobiler Killed In Idaho Avalanche

This map shows current avalanche conditions in southern Idaho, western Montana and northern Utah.
Credit Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center

An avalanche in the Sawtooth National Forest killed one man and injured a woman Sunday afternoon at a popular snowmobile site in the Smiley Creek area north of Ketchum. The avalanche west of Galena Summit buried four snowmobilers early in the afternoon.

The Blaine County Sheriff's Office says 64-year-old George Gilbert Martin Jr. of Bellevue, Idaho died on the scene.

Sawtooth Avalanche Center director Simon Trautman says the four snowmobilers were in a meadow which they thought was safe.

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Environment
8:37 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Risk Of Falling Trees Shutters Northwest Camping Areas

U.S. Forest Service

Forest managers in north Idaho and western Washington will be closing some popular camping areas this year. They say nearby trees are infected with root rot and post a threat to campers.

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Avalanche
10:27 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Avalanche Warning Issued For Sun Valley Region

The National Weather Service has issued an avalanche warning for central Idaho's Sun Valley region.

The Sawtooth Avalanche Center says the area got between one and a half to three feet of new snow, and that combined with strong winds have created a high avalanche danger. The warning includes the mountains around Fairfield, Galena Summit and Stanley.

Water
4:29 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Scientists Help Western States Prepare For Drought As New Norm

Frank Gehrke, chief of snow surveys in California, looks at wind speed, snow depth and moisture data collected at a survey site in Yosemite National Park.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 8:23 pm

At a 10,000-foot summit in Yosemite National Park, Frank Gehrke clicks into his cross-country skis and pushes off down a small embankment onto a meadow of crusty snow. He's California's chief of snow surveys, one of the most influential jobs in a state where snow and the water that comes from it are big currency. He's on his monthly visit to one of a dozen snowpack-measuring stations scattered across the high country of the Sierra Nevada.

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Endangered Species Act
11:10 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Republican Congressmen Propose Changes To 40-Year-Old Endangered Species Act

The gray wolf was listed in 1978 and the process of de-listing the predator started in 2003. By 2012, the management of the gray wolf was back under states' control.
Credit U.S. Fish & Wildlife

Republicans in Congress say a 40-year-old law meant to protect animals and plants from extinction has become bogged down by litigation and needs to be updated.

A group of 13 GOP lawmakers released a report Tuesday detailing their proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, one of the nation's cornerstone environmental laws.

Proponents credit the act with staving off extinction for hundreds of species — from the bald eagle and American alligator to the gray whale. President Richard Nixon signed it into law in December 1973.

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Wildlife
8:00 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Study: Climate Change Means More Raptors Are Wintering In Idaho

The American Kestrel was one of six raptors whose winter range is changing. The others are golden eagles, Northern harriers, prairie falcons, red-tailed hawks, and rough-legged hawks.
Credit Neil Paprocki

People in Idaho are seeing more raptors because golden eagles and red-tailed hawks aren't flying as far south for winter. That's according to a new study from Boise State University. The study authors say the change in migration habits means fewer of the birds of prey are being spotted in southern states.

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Idaho Legislature
3:48 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

$2 Million Plan Aims To Kill 500 Idaho Wolves

Credit Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Republicans promoting Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's proposed $2 million fund to kill wolves say they hope the cash helps eliminate more than 500 of the predators in Idaho, reducing numbers to 150 animals in 15 packs.

Rep. Marc Gibbs of Grace and Sen. Bert Brackett of Rogerson Monday told the House Resources and Conservation Committee the cash set aside with Otter's proposal will bolster Idaho's predator arsenal.

Idaho now has about 680 wolves, according to state Department of Fish and Game estimates.

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Environment
5:55 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Researchers Detect and 'Count' Fish From Just A Glass Of Water

Study co-author Kevan Yamahara collects a water sample at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Jesse Port Center for Ocean Solutions

It's not something we often think about, but as we go about daily life, we're constantly shedding little flakes of skin. So are animals and fish.

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Environment
3:35 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

It's Not Magic On The Mountain, It's A Rain-Making Machine

A ground-based cloud-seeding tower at Alpine Meadows ski area near California's Lake Tahoe. It spits out silver iodide particles that are the right size and shape to help precipitation form.
Lauren Sommer KQED

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 5:36 pm

The snowpack in the Mountain West this year is at just a small fraction of its normal level. In fact, 2013 was the driest year ever recorded in many parts of California, and there's little relief in sight. But water managers are trying to squeeze every last raindrop out of Mother Nature with a technology developed in the state more than 50 years ago: cloud seeding.

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Water
4:29 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Gov. Otter Asks Idaho Lawmakers For $15 Million Down Payment On Dams, Water Study

This is an historic image of the Arrowrock Dam on the Boise River. It was constructed between 1911-1915.
Credit WaterArchives / Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter aims to build billions of dollars in new or expanded Idaho dams, to capture more water in his state's drought-stricken southern desert for crops, cities and flushing endangered salmon to the sea.

He's asking lawmakers to give him $15 million down payment for, among other things, studying whether a new era of dam building make sense, given somebody will have to pay for it.

One project he's pushing, a new Weiser River dam, could be used for everything from flood control to electricity.

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Wildlife
3:52 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Conservation Groups Sue Over Idaho Wolf Kill Plan

Credit Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Some conservation groups are suing federal and state officials over Idaho's plan to track and kill wolves from two packs in central Idaho.

The lawsuit, filed by Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project and Wilderness Watch on Monday, asks the judge to stop the extermination immediately to give the case time to work through the courts.

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Transportation
5:45 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

New Year Likely To Bring More 'Megaload' Fights

Members of the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho block the passage of a “megaload” being shipped by Omega Morgan in August.
Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

Two large pieces of oil equipment crossing the Northwest are expected to start moving again after the New Year's holiday.

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Wildlife
12:34 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

West Nile Virus Kills 2 Dozen Bald Eagles In Utah

Credit PenWaggener / Flickr Creative Commons

State wildlife officials say West Nile Virus appears to the mystery illness that's caused more than two dozen bald eagles to die in Utah this month.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says results of laboratory tests on some of the first birds found indicate they died from West Nile.

Officials say 27 bald eagles have died since Dec. 1, and six others are being treated at a wildlife rehabilitation center.

DWR says in a statement that it believes the eagles ate grebes that were infected with the virus.

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Energy
11:09 am
Tue December 31, 2013

The End Of The Bulb As We Know It? Not Quite

Bruce Cudmore is the purchasing manager at Carr Sales
Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

January 1 is the end of the era of your standard, soft white Edison-designed incandescent bulb in the United States. Or at least, in theory.

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Wolves
12:28 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

No Wolves Killed During Controversial Idaho Hunt

Credit Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Organizers of a coyote and wolf hunting contest held over the weekend in Salmon, Idaho say hunters did not kill any wolves as part of the ‘derby.’ Hunters shot 21 coyotes.

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