Environment

Idaho Division of Tourism / Flickr Creative Commons

In 1890, the brand new state of Idaho was granted more than four million acres of land by the federal government. Public education is the beneficiary of money generated from state land sales to individuals or companies. Idaho law limits these sales to no more than 320 acres in some cases and 160 acres in others.

Randy Watson / Flickr

More than 500 ducks and geese have died near Parma. And the Idaho Department of Fish and Game says it knows why.

Two weeks ago, someone found hundreds of dead birds on private land at Fort Boise. Fish and Game says between 500 and 600 birds were at the site. Canada geese, mallard ducks, even a red-tailed hawk died. Several of the birds were sent to the Department’s Wildlife Health Laboratory to be tested.

Idaho officials are in preliminary discussions with the U.S. Forest Service on possibly buying federal public lands.

State Forester David Groeschl of the Idaho Department of Lands told Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and other members of the Idaho Land Board on Tuesday that the state is eyeing timberland that the federal agency has previously proposed for possible sale or exchange.

Groeschl said the state is also identifying potential Forest Service lands not previously considered for sale.

Dan Brubaker Horst / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho officials have extended the deadline for farmers to dispose of spoiled or damaged onions following the collapse of many onion storage facilities in southwestern Idaho due to heavy snow.

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that the March 15 deadline has been extended to April 15.

Agriculture Director Celia Gould says the temporary rule will give onion farmers some flexibility in dealing with the massive disposal effort. She says many facilities are reporting total losses.

Bureau of Reclamation / WaterArchives.org | Flickr Creative Commons

The recent threat of catastrophic flooding at the Oroville Dam in Northern California has abated for the moment, but the incident dredged up old memories of Idaho's own dam catastrophe.

In June of 1976, the earthen Teton Dam in eastern Idaho failed, killing 11 people and causing $2 billion in damage. It cost $100 million to construct, but the government ended up paying over thrice that in damage claims linked to the failure.

Flooding is continuing to affect communities in southern and eastern Idaho as warm weather melts significant snowpack in lower elevations.

More than a third of Idaho's 44 counties have declared disaster areas, including Bingham and Caribou. Temperatures cooled on Friday and through the weekend, offering some respite from the runoff, but many communities are already dealing with significant flooding and ice jams.

Bear Lake County officials have also considered signing a disaster declaration due to some flooded basements and fields.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Elk and deer continue to struggle this winter and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is adding 27 more feeding sites for the animals.

That brings the number of feed sites around the Southeast Region to 89.

There are 16 elk sites feeding 2,780 animals. There are 71 deer sites, feeding 8,731 of the animals. And two pronghorn sites are getting feed to 215 animals. The sites are in 12 Idaho counties.

John Milner / Flickr Creative Commons

The Sun Valley Resort has shut down Bald Mountain for fear of extreme avalanche danger.

While the resort has received some 50 inches of snow in just the last few days, warmer temperatures plus winds and freezing rain are making for a dangerous mix. With temperatures above 40 degrees, the situation on the mountainside is touch and go.

Once it's deemed safe, Bald Mountain will be reopened.

Penn State / Flickr Creative Commons

Testing is set to resume at a federally-managed nuclear waste treatment plant west of Idaho Falls.

Tests at the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit will begin next week after a nine-month pause, The Post Register reported.

The first 10-day test will examine the effectiveness of a grinder that breaks down solid radioactive waste. The component clogged during previous tests.

Paul Moody / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho has so much snow that water is already being released from some reservoirs for flood control and Idaho Power has halted most of its cloud-seeding operations.

"It's just an amazing year," said Ron Abramovich, a water supply specialist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service. "I don't think anybody is talking about shortages this year."

Boise River, snow, weather
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The National Weather Service considers the snow season running from October to May; so far this year, Boise has seen 37.6 inches – significant, but not close to an all-time record.

FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is holding hearings on proposed flood maps in Ada and Canyon County.

FEMA has come up with new maps that change the outline of the 100-year floodplain. That’s the area that has a 1 percent chance of flooding in any year.

The maps are preliminary and include areas along the Boise River, Nine Mile Creek, Mill Slough and Willow Creek. Hundreds of homes in Boise, Garden City, Eagle and Star fall inside the new floodplain districts proposed by FEMA.

Dmitry.S. / Flickr

Idaho is spending about $650,000 this winter to feed elk, deer and antelope at 110 sites around the southern half of the state.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game on Wednesday said the severe winter prompted officials to declare four feeding emergencies in four regions to start the feeding of about 10,000 elk, 10,000 deer and 100 antelope.

"We know we are in a very significant winter," said Jon Rachael, state wildlife game manager.

Thomas Herbert / AP

Work to clear radioactive waste from the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project is nearly complete.

The Post Register reports that according to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are only 28 nuclear waste boxes left to retrieve at the facility's airplane hangar-like building. Officials expect to finish the job later this month.

Kurt Carpenter / USGS

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is holding its 27th annual water quality workshop at Boise State this week. Dan Wise is with the U.S. Geological Survey in Oregon, and Wednesday he’s presenting his findings from a regional study on phosphorus in streams.

Here’s a quick high school science refresher: Phosphorus is a chemical element and is essential for life. It’s in chemical fertilizer, as well as in animal and human waste. But there’s a delicate balance – too much phosphorus can cause problems in waterways with too much plant growth.

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