Environment

A 4.9-magnitude earthquake shook central Idaho, flinging items off walls and scaring residents but otherwise producing no reported damage or injuries in the sparsely populated mountain area.

USGS geophysicist Dale Grant says the earthquake was "kind of an unusual occurrence" being the first one of its strength in the area since 2005. But he said even minor damage is unlikely because of the remote location. It struck 8 miles northwest of Challis, a town of around 1,000 less than 200 miles northeast of Boise.

Idaho Fish and Game / Screengrab

If you've watched much cable TV recently, you may have seen this spot promoting Idaho Fish and Game's 75th anniversary.

Irrigators, hydropower dam operators and tugboat captains are sitting pretty across most of the Northwest according to the latest regional water supply forecast.

earthquake, challis
Google Maps

The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude 4.1 earthquake has been recorded three miles underground near Challis, Idaho.

USGS monitors recorded the quake at 6:21 a.m. Thursday. It occurred nine miles north-northwest of the town.

Lochsa River, water, Idaho
Keith Ewing | Idaho Fish and Game / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho's Clearwater and Lochsa rivers have made it on a list of top 10 most endangered rivers in America. The list is put out every year by American Rivers, an advocacy group that works to protect and restore rivers in the U.S.

Transportation, megaload
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Idaho Rivers United and the Nez Perce Tribe are in mediation with the U.S. Forest Service to end a lawsuit concerning megaloads on U.S. Highway 12 in northern Idaho.

Kevin Lewis of Idaho Rivers United said Wednesday the groups are seeking to have the federal agency come up with specific rules concerning gigantic loads traveling on the northern Idaho route that includes a federally designated Wild and Scenic River corridor as well as tribal land.

wildlife, lynx
Keith Williams / Flickr Creative Commons

Three environmental groups plan to file a federal lawsuit if Idaho doesn't address incidental trapping of federally protected Canada lynx.

The groups sent a letter Monday to Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter as well as Idaho Department of Fish Game officials. The state has 60 days to respond.

Western Watersheds Project, the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Clearwater contend that Idaho is violating the Endangered Species Act by allowing recreational trapping for bobcats that has led to the capture of three lynx in the last two years.

The latest dispute over whether huge megaload trucks should be allowed on Northwest roads is currently in Oregon.

Yellowstone NPS / Flickr Creative Commons

Yellowstone National Park is trying to fight online rumors that running bison seen in a YouTube video are fleeing a possible explosion of the park's supervolcano.

The video was posted on March 20, 10 days before a magnitude-4.8 earthquake hit, the strongest quake in 30 years.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

A new population tally of gray wolves in the U.S. Northern Rockies shows their continued resilience despite increased hunting, trapping and government-sponsored pack removals.

State and federal agencies said Friday there were a minimum of 1,691 wolves at the end of 2013.

That's virtually unchanged from the prior year even as state wildlife agencies adopted aggressive tactics to drive down wolf numbers.

Under pressure from livestock and hunting groups, Idaho officials have used helicopters to shoot packs. Montana has eased hunting and trapping rules.

water, boise river
Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Those managing water flow in the Boise River Basin say they plan to keep the river at its current level for the foreseeable future.

The river is been flowing at roughly 1,800 cubic feet per second at the Glenwood Street bridge in Boise.  The flow last week was around 300 cfs and then increased steadily over the weekend.

Snake River Area Office Water Operations Manager Brian Sauer says the outflow at Lucky Peak reached 1,800 cfs for the first time this season at 8 a.m. Monday.  Flood level is 7,000 cfs.

Yellowstone National Park, Bison, Lamar Valley
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Montana wildlife officials say they are seeking proposals to take up to 135 disease-free bison being held under an experimental effort to establish new populations of the animals.

The small herd in the U.S. Department of Agriculture program is made up of animals captured from Yellowstone National Park and their descendants.

The bison have been held for the past several years on behalf of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks at a Bozeman-area ranch owned by philanthropist Ted Turner.

U.S. Drought Monitor

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has added a southern Idaho county to its list of Idaho regions considered natural disaster areas because of drought.

The department designated Elmore County a primary natural disaster area, making farmers and ranchers in the county eligible for natural disaster assistance. Other Idaho counties with federal natural disaster declarations include Ada, Boise, Custer, Owyhee, Blaine, Camas, Gooding and Twin Falls.

Idaho Transportation Department

 Idaho water managers this week filed an application for a preliminary permit with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. The state's Water Resource Board continues to study the feasibility of building a new dam on the Weiser River. 

The Galloway Dam Site would include a 40-60 megawatt hydropower plant.  The project would be located 13.5 miles upstream of the confluence of the Weiser and Snake rivers.

columbia river
Shawn Kinkade / Flickr

The Army Corps of Engineers this spring will begin killing birds at some Snake and Columbia river dams to help protect juvenile salmon and steelhead.

The agency unveiled a plan Thursday that will allow as many as 1,200 California gulls, 650 ring-billed gulls and 150 double-crested cormorants to be killed.

The Lewiston Tribune says the action will occur at McNary Dam on the Columbia River and Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite dams on the Snake River.

gray wolf, wolves
U.S. Fish & Wildlife

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed a bill to create a state board that will work to control the growth of wolf populations in the state.

Otter signed the bill on Wednesday, despite opposition from some conservation groups.

The bill, which passed on the final day of the recent legislative session, creates a $400,000 fund and establishes a five-member board whose job is to authorize the killing of wolves that come into conflict with wildlife or livestock.

The money comes from the state's general fund.

Travis S. / Flickr

A federal judge has ruled that a U.S. Forest Service plan to reduce domestic sheep grazing on the Payette National Forest by about 70 percent to protect bighorn sheep from diseases will remain in place.

Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge A. Wallace Tashima, sitting by designation for the District of Idaho, made the ruling on Tuesday.

Sheep ranchers in Idaho and other states in 2012 sued the Forest Service over the bighorn sheep protection plan announced in 2010.

A new study suggests creating livable habitat for the dwindling sage grouse may be trickier than originally thought.

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Idaho's wolf population is on the decline, heading toward 10 breeding pairs, or 150 wolves.

That's the goal set in the 2002 wolf management plan that will remain the state's official policy unless it is changed by the Legislature.

The Idaho Statesman reports that last week's legislation to establish an Idaho Wolf Control Board, along with efforts to expand and increase wolf hunting and trapping, has galvanized some national conservation groups.

Washington Fish and Game

Federal lawmakers are pressing Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to drop a proposal that would end federal protections for wolves across most of the Lower 48 states.

Seventy-four House members signed onto a Wednesday letter to Jewell that cites a peer-review panel's recent conclusion the government relied on unsettled science to make its case.

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