Environment

EPA

The nice weather we've been having means work on the ground is resuming at one of the largest Superfund sites in the nation.

The EPA is trying to clear decades of mine pollution from Idaho's Coeur d'Alene River Basin and the upper reaches of the Spokane River. But this summer, managers are using an environmental remedy you might not expect: pavement.

Coeur d'Alene River, water, Idaho
Threefatcats / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials plan to spend $38 million in northern Idaho's Coeur d'Alene River Basin this summer cleaning up toxic pollution left from a century worth of mining in the region.

The Environmental Protection Agency tells the Coeur d'Alene Press that up to 125 residential and commercial properties will be cleaned up.

Agency spokesman Ed Moreen says that more than 17 miles of paved roads in eight upper basin communities will be repaired or replaced.

cows
Michael_McCullough / Flickr Creative Commons

A south-central Idaho milk processing company has agreed to pay a $170,000 fine for dumping wastewater with acidity levels high enough to damage Jerome's wastewater treatment plant.

The Times-News reports that the Environmental Protection Agency announced the agreement with Idaho Milk Products in a statement on Monday.

The agency says the company between March 2009 and July 2012 exceeded its acidity limit 138 times.

Washington state Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark repeated Monday that "It's still too early to tell" if there is a connection between logging and this spring's deadly landslide near Oso, Washington.

Chinook Salmon, fish
Pacific Northwest National Lab / Flickr Creative Commons

The Snake River's fall chinook salmon are making a comeback.

There were just 78 wild chinook salmon counted at the Lower Granite Dam in 1990. Last year, more than 20,000 of the wild salmon were counted, and 75,846 wild and hatchery-born fall chinook total.

water, boise river
Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Flow in the Boise River set a record low this week. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, flow Thursday at the Glenwood bridge on Boise’s west side was the lowest ever recorded on May 8. 

turkey, wildlife
Steve Voght / Flickr Creative Commons

State wildlife biologists aren't sure where a wild male turkey came from, but there's no denying it has decided to call downtown Boise home.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game spokesman Steve Liebenthal says the agency has been getting reports this week about the bird that has been making appearances in various locations.

Liebenthal says it's turkey mating season so the turkey might have traveled to the frenetic downtown Boise area in search of a mate.

Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Wednesday, a small herd of mountain caribou found in the Northwest will retain federal protection, but it will be as a threatened species rather than endangered.

Scientists say a voracious species of trout that entered Yellowstone Lake and decimated its native trout population appears to be in decline following efforts to kill off the invading fish.

Non-native lake trout were first found 20 years ago in the 132-square mile lake in the center of Yellowstone National Park. Crews have since caught and removed more than a million of the fish in hopes that cutthroat trout populations would rebound.

On Tuesday, scientists from the park and Trout Unlimited said those efforts are finally showing progress.

Yellowstone NPS / Flickr Creative Commons

Ten entities have submitted proposals to take bison from Yellowstone National Park that came through an experimental program to establish new herds of the animals.

Applicants include wildlife agencies in Utah and Minnesota, three American Indian tribes and private conservation groups in Montana, Nebraska, New York and Colorado.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks released details of the proposals on Monday. Spokesman Ron Aasheim said the agency hopes to relocate the roughly 135 bison by the end of November.

Boise, Air Quality
Thomas Hawk / Flickr Creative Commons

An American Lung Associate report finds Idaho still has work to do when it comes to good air quality. The “State of the Air 2014” report shows Ada County has seen an increase in year-round particle pollution compared to last year’s report.

sage grouse, wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

The federal government has paid $236 million to landowners in 11 states to preserve sage grouse habitat amid a debate over whether the bird should be listed as an endangered species — potentially hindering energy development and ranching.

The Casper Star-Tribune reported Wednesday the money paid for conservation efforts on nearly 6,000 square miles, mostly in the West.

Beaver Creek Fire, Wildfires
Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

The U.S. Forest Service says most of the area within a 170-square-mile wildfire that burned in central Idaho last summer will remain closed this year due to safety concerns.

The agency announced Monday that areas that burned in the Beaver Creek Fire near the resort area of Ketchum have been severely eroded.

The order closing the area applies to all human use, including mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, motorcycling and mushroom gathering.

The agency says the highest concerns include eroded trails and roads, and damaged bridges and culverts.

idaho gold mine
Michallaurence / Flickr Creative Commons

Chris Cora stands on what used to be a mountaintop in the Umpqua Basin of southern Oregon. Now, it’s essentially a landfill. “Filled with waste rock and tailings," Cora says. "There’s actually zinc ore in here. Well, it’s concentrated zinc, which is really bad for the environment.”

Hydropower dams built without fish ladders have blocked migratory fish from the upper reaches of the Columbia and Snake Rivers for decades.

A conservation group and the Nez Perce Tribe have filed a lawsuit against three federal agencies seeking to stop a central Idaho gold mine exploration project by a Canadian company.

The tribe and the Idaho Conservation League filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Idaho against the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service.

Nomadic Lass / Flickr Creative Commons

A conservation group is suing the federal government for failing to reclassify a small population of grizzly bears as endangered.

The estimated 42 Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bears in northwestern Montana are considered a threatened species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year issued a decision that said changing the bears' status from threatened to endangered was warranted but precluded by higher-priority species.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies says in its lawsuit filed Tuesday the population needs to be at least 100 to be considered viable.

Doug Brown / Flickr Creative Commons

More than 20,000 people have signed an online petition aimed at Idaho Fish and Game to stop the killing of thousands of ravens. The point of the raven population control, though, is to protect another bird close to becoming endangered: the sage grouse.

Don Kemner’s job at the Idaho Fish and Game Department is to safeguard the sage grouse.

historic photo, Cottonwood creek
Idaho Statesman, Boise Public Library

Since the devastating landslide hit the town of Oso, Wash. last month, people who live near hill slopes or mountainsides have been asking if something similar could happen to them. Though Boise has not seen the tragic loss of life the Oso slide brought, the city is no stranger to floods and mudslides near its foothills.

Ingrid Taylar / Flickr

Officials at the fisheries division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are working on a long-range plan that could lead to delisting fall chinook in the Snake River.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that officials for the first time are setting down precise standards that must be met for the fish to be taken off the endangered species list.

But officials say it's a long process with many hurdles.

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