Environment

TheJesse / Flickr Creative Commons

A draft management plan for two recently created central Idaho wilderness areas prohibits campfires at high elevations to protect whitebark pine and eliminates horses and other recreational stock in some areas to protect alpine soils.

The U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced Monday the availability of the 67-page document intended to guide management of the 138-square-mile Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness and the 142-square-mile White Clouds Wilderness.

Salmon
Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

In May, a federal judge ordered dam operators in the Northwest to put all options back on the table to save endangered salmon. That means giving a close look at four dams on the lower Snake River. Now, Boiseans will have the chance to weigh in on the proposal.

The debate over the best way to protect salmon has been caught in court battles for the last 20 years.

BLM Boise District

Federal officials are proposing one of the largest ever projects to remove juniper trees to protect habitat for imperiled sage grouse.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced Monday that it's taking public comments through Jan. 3 on the plan to eliminate trees from 940 square miles in southwest Idaho.

Experts say juniper trees have expanded to displace sage brush needed by the bird in many places in the West due to fire suppression efforts and other human activities.

Idaho Department of Agriculture

Officials from across the U.S. Northwest hope it's not too late to contain invasive mussels found for the first time in Montana.

State Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials announced Nov. 8 that larvae were discovered in the Tiber Reservoir, The Spokesman-Review reported.

During a meeting of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region coalition in Boise this week, officials from Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana and three Canadian provinces discussed the troubling development.

Bryant Olsen / Flickr

Federal officials are reconsidering how roads and motorized trails in part of the Sawtooth National Forest could harm threatened bull trout following a lawsuit by an environmental group.

As a result, a federal judge on Wednesday put a lawsuit by WildEarth Guardians on hold until Feb. 14 while the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service analyze how motorized travel and climate change could harm critical habitat for bull trout, a torpedo-shaped fish that needs clear, cold water to survive.

BriarCraft / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Power is working to improve water quality and habitat in parts of the Snake River upstream from dams in Hells Canyon.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that the utility company recently wrapped up a project to deepen a stretch of river and plant more than 18,000 trees near Walter's Ferry and other efforts in different parts of the river are expected.

Charles Peterson / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Fish and Game officials are in Lewiston today discussing the biggest wildlife issues in the state.

The seven-person fish and game commission has a lot on their agenda, including the review of public input on a proposal for the state to take over management of Yellowstone grizzlies.

Screengrab Idahowines.org

Idaho's wine grape crop is rebounding after a small harvest in 2015.

The Capital Press reports that a November 2014 freeze sharply reduced the amount of wine grapes available in 2015. This year, however, growers and vintners say the yields are 50 to 100 percent above last year's, making the harvest slightly larger than normal.

Some growers told the Capital Press that they won't finish picking the remainder of the crop because they've already harvested plenty of grapes.

Courtesy of Ann Kennedy / USDA

Scientists in southwestern Idaho are experimenting to find out if bacteria can stop an invasive weed that is taking over the West.

Cheatgrass gets its name by sending out early roots and cheating other plants of water in the spring.

Then it dries out in the summer, becoming a powerful catalyst for wildfires that kill neighboring plants and destroy habitat needed by sage grouse and other wildlife.

The results are huge, cheatgrass-filled landscapes that cycle through frequent wildfires.

Sean Dahlman

It’s been more than four months since the Table Rock Fire blackened the prominent plateau in Boise.  The fast-moving wildfire ate up 2,500 acres where invasive weed species had taken over, fueling the flames overnight and destroying important mule deer and elk wintering grounds.

That’s where Martha Brabec comes in. Brabec is the foothills restoration specialist for the city. She’s been on the job for two months, and she immediately got to work on Table Rock.

Elk
GoCyclones / Flickr Creative Commons

State officials have made safer a central Idaho elk feeding station where 43 elk died last winter, including 38 calves.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports in a story on Wednesday that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game upgraded the feeding station and cleared brush at the site eight miles west of Ketchum.

Agency spokesman Kelton Hatch says snow accumulations last winter forced elk to the feeding station.

Mike Gabelmann / Flickr Creative Commons

Three of four wolves fitted with tracking collars in a central Idaho wilderness area last year by state officials without federal approval are surviving as another winter approaches.

State officials say the surviving wolves from three different packs are still roaming the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

Officials say an adult female died in May due to unknown causes.

Bogus Basin Recreation Area

The far western United States set records for low snowpack levels in 2015, and a new report blames high temperatures rather than low precipitation levels.

The new study suggests greenhouse gases were a major contributor to the high temperatures. The study was published Monday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Federal officials on Monday released an ambitious wildfire-fighting and restoration plan to protect a wide swath of sagebrush country in the intermountain West that supports cattle ranching and is home to an imperiled bird.

The 139-page plan is essentially a how-to guide that follows Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's five-page order in early 2015 calling for a "science-based" approach to safeguard greater sage grouse while contending with fires that have been especially destructive in the Great Basin.

Hency T. McLin / Flickr Creative Commons

The sage grouse is one of the most iconic wildlife species in Idaho. But according to a new report, three slightly less-flashy birds are benefiting from conservation efforts aimed at sage grouse.

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