Environment

Wildfires
9:53 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Idaho Wildfire Update: Ridge Fire At 3,000 Acres, Pine Creek Fire 80 Percent Contained

More than 400 firefighters worked on the Pine Creek Fire northeast of Boise over the weekend. Fire managers say it's now 80 percent contained.
Credit Boise National Forest

Wildfires continued burning across southern and central Idaho over the weekend, with several new fires also igniting. 

The Ridge Fire north of Lowman in the Boise National Forest has now burned about 3,000 acres. Officials say it's 7 percent contained. Despite predictions Friday of significant growth, the fire did not grow Sunday.

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Drought
6:21 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Drought Means Lucky Peak Drawdown Starts 5 Weeks Early

Credit Nicholas D. / Flickr Creative Commons

It’s only July 22, but Lucky Peak Reservoir is already seeing the effects of a dry and hot season.

The Bureau of Reclamation has started dropping water levels in the reservoir, and is diverting the water for irrigation. Farmers in the Boise River watershed usually get water from the system around Labor Day. But with supplies at about 50 percent of normal, this year the diversion is happening five weeks earlier.

So what does this mean for recreation at Lucky Peak the rest of this summer?

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Wildfires
12:00 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Ridge Fire Near Lowman Could Burn For Weeks

The Ridge Fire has burned a relatively small area...so far. But officials say the fire has the potential to grow quickly.
Credit Dave Olson / Boise National Forest

Those managing the fight against a fire burning in the Boise National Forest near Lowman say the fire could burn for weeks. 

Lightning started the Ridge Fire Tuesday evening about 15 miles north of Lowman. It’s estimated to have burned nearly 900 acres. But Boise National Forest spokesman Dave Olson says that number is expected to increase quickly.

“We’re anticipating that acreages are doubling each day,” Olson says. "So if conditions continue as they are, I think we could see increases in acreages fairly substantially each day into the future.”

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Wildfires
9:10 am
Fri July 19, 2013

The Best Sources For Idaho Wildfire Info

Wildland firefighters get a morning briefing at the Pine Creek Fire in the Boise National Forest.
Credit Boise National Forest

Idaho's wildfire season is ramping up, and that means there will be a lot of rapidly changing information about fire activity into the fall.

We've compiled a list of agencies, organizations and journalists who regularly tweet about fires in the region.

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Drought
8:17 am
Fri July 19, 2013

88 Percent Of Idaho Is In A Moderate To Severe Drought

Credit U.S. Drought Monitor / USDA

Federal agencies have expanded how much of the Northwest they think is suffering from drought. Updated figures released Thursday shows 88 percent of Idaho's territory is now categorized in moderate to severe drought. Just over half of Oregon is similarly parched. Washington state is faring better with just a sliver - 2 percent -  classified in drought conditions.

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Wildlife Management
7:57 am
Fri July 19, 2013

States' Status Update On Wolf-Elk Relationship: It's Complicated

Credit Jim and Jamie Dutcher / The Hidden Life of Wolves

The presence of wolves may mean hunters can't count on finding elk in favorite hunting spots … but that doesn’t necessarily mean there are fewer elk. That was the message from wildlife managers in three Northwest states Thursday in an online public meeting.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife asked managers from Montana and Idaho to dish out some advice from their experience trying to find a balance among prey like deer and elk, wolves, and hunters.

Jon Rachael in Idaho says his state has found wolves make elk move around more.

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Wildfires
10:59 am
Thu July 18, 2013

13 Words You Need To Know During Wildfire Season

Credit Brad Washa / Boise National Forest

Idaho's wildfire season is here, and that means you're going to be hearing a lot of firefighting jargon to describe what's going on.

We put together this list of key firefighting terms you're likely to hear in the next few months.

Glossary

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Wildfires
1:33 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Lightning Sparks 8 Fires In The Boise National Forest

Credit Boise National Forest

Eight new fires started after a storm rumbled through the Boise National Forest Tuesday night. More than 4,000 lighting strikes were reported. The largest lightning-caused fire had reportedly burned 150 acres by this morning. Crews were ready for new starts after a red flag warning went into effect.

Nearby, the Pine Creek Fire has claimed about 1,500 acres since it started on Monday afternoon. The blaze is about 10 percent contained, with 240 firefighters at work.

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Air Quality
10:54 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Southern Idaho Could Be In For Another Bad Air Summer

Boise Sky about 9:45 a.m. September 20, 2012
Credit Aaron Kunz / Earthfix

Wednesday’s air quality forecast in the Treasure Valley is for “moderate” conditions, which can cause health issues for some people with respiratory problems.

It’s been that way for several days now mainly because of ozone pollution, not wildfire smoke. Ozone is the most common reason for bad air during Idaho summers, but last year was a different story says Michael Toole with Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality.

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Wildfires
7:47 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Collaboration Credited For Saving Homes From Wildfire Near Eagle

Tuesday night's fire north of Eagle started around 8 o'clock when lightning moved through the area near Highway 16. Firefighters had the fire contained within four hours.
Credit Sheila Hudson

The Ada County Sheriff's Department credits the swift response of multiple fire agencies for saving about 30 homes along Highway 16 north of Eagle Tuesday night.  The fire started around 8 o'clock when lightning from passing storms struck.  Within minutes, families in the area near Firebird Raceway started to evacuate.

Ava Linhart lives in the area.  She says she and her daughter were home watching the storm when the lightning hit. 

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Wildfires
9:24 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Brush Fire Off Highway 16 Now Contained

Area resident Sheila Hudson captured this photo of smoke rising from the fire off Highway 16.
Credit Sheila Hudson

Update 12:57 a.m.: The Ada County Sheriff's Department says people can now safely return home after a wildfire forced many to evacuate Tuesday night. Highway 16 is now open in both directions. 

The Sheriff's Department estimates the fire has burned about 1,000 acres and is now fully contained. No homes were lost. Flames damaged a barn and an outbuilding. 

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Wildfires
5:34 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Stormy Weather Could Pose Challenges For Idaho Firefighters

A handcrew member works on the perimeter of the Pine Creek Fire northeast of Boise.
Credit U.S. Forest Service

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning Tuesday afternoon for the Boise National Forest and parts of the Payette National Forest. Dry and windy conditions could make firefighting efforts in those areas difficult and could spark new flames there's lighting. 

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Air Quality
4:42 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

The Treasure Valley's Air Quality Isn't Great, But Not Because Of Wildfires

Smoke obscures the Boise foothills about 7:30 Tuesday morning.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Air quality in the Treasure Valley hasn't been great the last couple of days. But that's not because of the wildfire burning near Boise. Michael Toole with Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality says the real culprit is ozone.

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Water
2:02 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Idaho Town Bands Together To Help Steelhead Trout

Credit Matt Corsi / Idaho Fish and Game

Farmers, town leaders and biologists in Idaho are banding together to demolish a roughly 10-foot-high barrier and restore a creek to a more-natural state to give steelhead a better shot at producing the state's next generation of oceangoing rainbow trout.

To spawn in the west fork of Idaho's Little Bear Creek, federally protected wild steelhead trout must swim 500 miles from the Pacific Ocean. But once they arrive in Troy, the 93-year-old concrete dam blocks all but the strongest from reaching the stream's headwaters.

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Wildfires
5:56 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Pine Creek Fire Near Boise Grows To 800 Acres

Credit Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

Update 8:20 a.m.:  Fire managers said Tuesday morning the Pine Creek Fire has now burned 800 acres northeast of Boise.  200 people are working the fire, which officials say has a "high" growth potential.  With lightning in the forecast, firefighters are bracing for more new fires in the region.  The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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Wildfires
3:06 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Wildfire Near Popular Middle Fork Of Salmon River Has Rafters On Alert

July is a busy month for white water rafting down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
Credit Pete Zimosky / Idaho Statesman

Rafters along the popular Middle Fork of the Salmon River in central Idaho are being told to be prepared to share reserved camping spaces with other rafters or even firefighters because of a nearby wildfire.

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GMO Wheat
2:18 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Northwest Wheat Farmers Look Forward To Restored Market

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 1:57 pm

  The first bushels of Northwest wheat are coming off honey-colored fields in southeast Washington.

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Wildfires
8:18 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Forest Service/BLM Ban Exploding Targets In Northwest

Federal land managers have banned the use of exploding targets on public lands in the Northwest. The concern is wildfires.  But a leading manufacturer of the popular target shooting accessory is quite unhappy.

Fire investigators suspect exploding targets sparked at least half a dozen wildfires in Washington and Idaho over the past year. The chemical explosives give target shooters instant feedback that they've hit their mark from long range.

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Wolves
2:59 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Idaho Cyclist Says He Was Chased By A Gray Wolf

Gray wolves average between 80 and 104 pounds.
Credit Washington Fish and Game

An Idaho man cycling to Alaska suffered a scare after being chased by a gray wolf.

Thirty-five-year-old William "Mac" Hollan of Sandpoint says he also needed the help of friends to thwart a wolf that chased him last week — half-way through his 2,750-mile trip to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

Hollan told the Spokesman-Review the wolf charged out of the forest about 60 miles west of Watson Lake in the Yukon Territory.

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Wildfires
11:18 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Canadian Researchers Predict Wildfires "Will Spread Like Wildfire" In Next 100 Years

Idaho's Trinity Ridge Fire burned more than 145,000 acres in 2013. Canadian researchers say so-called 'mega fires' are will happen more often and with increased intensity over the next century.
Credit Boise National Forest

The person who wrote the headline for this Canadian news release obviously has a sense of humor. But the subject of the release - a new report from researchers at the University of Alberta - offers some serious predictions about global wildfires over the next 100 years.

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