Among the images of destruction that have come from the wildfires tearing up the West is one showing an act of kindness by a family of dogs in Idaho.

The photo, taken in wildfire-ravaged Kamiah by Louis Armstrong on Monday, shows a sheep dog and two puppies standing guard at the body of a fawn.

Armstrong was checking out his family's 300 acres after the wildfire ripped through the area, when he noticed his neighbor's dogs protecting the body and snapped the photo.

John Robison / Idaho Conservation League

The accidental release of toxins into the Animas River in Colorado is a reminder of the long-term effects of mining. The decades-old gold mine had been dormant, but the toxins from the operation breached a dam there on the Environmental Protection Agency's watch.

Environmentalists around the West are pointing to the disaster, saying what happened in Colorado could happen in other states — including Idaho.

U.S. Forest Service

Smoky skies, from dozens of western wildfires, have prompted the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to issue an air quality advisory for the entire state of Idaho.

Such advisories are typically issued for individual counties or cities.

Boise National Forest

Dozens of large wildfires are burning uncontained this week across several Western states. With so many fires, there are not nearly enough resources to go around.  Now, military personnel are being brought in to help fight fires.

Of the 15 large fires in Idaho, nine are burning in the northern part of the state. They run from the Canadian border south to the Nez-Perce-Clearwater National Forest, and fire officials say it’s unlike any season in the last century.

Crews from all across the country are fighting fires in Idaho. Most of the blazes started from lightning strikes last week. The Idaho Panhandle National Forest’s spokesperson, Jay Kirchner, says this year is record breaking.

kt.ries / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal authorities have announced a plan to produce massive quantities of seeds from native plants so they can be quickly planted to help the land recover from natural disasters such as wildfires and hurricanes.

The U.S. Department of the Interior said Monday that the program will make landscapes more resilient and healthier, especially Western rangelands where massive wildfires have been an increasing problem.

Boise National Forest/USFS

The National Interagency Fire Center is calling on 200 active-duty military troops to help fight roughly 95 wildfires burning across the West.

Officials with the Boise-based agency made the announcement Monday. The troops will begin training Wednesday and are expected to be ready for action Sunday. They will be mobilized for a month. NIFC officials say previous call-ups have included more soldiers, but that the smaller force will be ready sooner. 

This is the first time NIFC has mobilized active duty military members for fire suppression efforts since 2006.

s. Hellstrom / InciWeb

The Soda Fire along the Oregon border has burned 440 square miles. The majority of those miles is rangeland in Owyhee County and that’s bad news for ranchers. There could be long-term effects to ranchers in the area.

More than 26 percent of jobs in Owyhee County come from agriculture, two-thirds of which comes from livestock operations. There are 145,000 cows in the county — 36,000 of them are beef cattle.

U.S. Forest Service

This story was originally published on August 26, 2013.

Soda Fire Containment: More Than Halfway There

Aug 17, 2015

Governor Otter issued Owyhee County a disaster declaration Saturday afternoon to provide assistance to the communities that have been affected by the Soda Fire. 

With favorable weather conditions over the weekend, firefighters made headway to reinforce and secure containment lines and mop up unburned islands. The cooler temperatures and decreased winds bought crews time to look for potential problem areas in preparation for a cold front with wind gusts arriving Monday afternoon.


The Soda Fire has burned more than 400 square miles of sage brush and rangeland 40 miles west of Boise. It’s just eight miles from Jordan Valley.

Ranchers and farmers are building firebreaks to protect their property. Power poles have burned up, leaving some without power. Despite the danger, the communities throughout the area are coming together to help those in need.

Nabil Omar / Flickr Creative Commons

A woman who killed a grizzly bear after she believed it posed a threat to her North Idaho family is worried she may be in trouble for killing a federally protected species.

The Spokesman-Review reports Barbara Casey shot the 2-year-old male grizzly Tuesday after it appeared in the backyard of her Moyie Springs home in Boundary County.

Rocky Barker / Idaho Statesman

Firefighters across Idaho braced for tough conditions Friday with strong winds predicted along with temperatures around 100 degrees and dry lightning in the evening.

Fire managers say they've had some success putting in containment lines on the 340-square-mile Soda Fire in the southwest part of the state straddling the Oregon border. But containment is only 11 percent.

More than 400 firefighters are assigned to the blaze that's also drawn about a dozen aircraft.

Timelapsed / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho State University and NASA are collaborating on research that may help scientists find life on other planets and improve radar to land rovers more safely on Mars.

The Idaho State Journal reports two teams are researching lava flows at the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve using rocks that ISU Geosciences assistant professor Shannon Kobs-Nawotniak says are very similar to those found on Mars.

Alan Krakauer / Flickr

Idaho Fish and Game says it will allow hunters to shoot sage grouse next month, despite a multi-state effort to boost the bird’s numbers.

Washington DNR

Lawmakers from Idaho and Oregon say they are renewing efforts to change the way the country pays to fight catastrophic wildfires, arguing that agencies should be using natural disaster dollars rather than money set aside for fire prevention.

Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch of Idaho and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon announced Wednesday that they are getting ready to pitch bipartisan legislation to Congress this fall.

Scott Urban / The Idaho Statesman

A wildfire in southwestern Idaho, fanned by shifting winds and numerous storm cells, grew twelve times in size over a 24-hour span to 123 square miles by early Wednesday.

The fire about 40 miles southwest of Boise closed U.S. Highway 95 that connects Marsing, Idaho, with Jordan Valley, Ore.

Some 200 firefighters backed by about a dozen aircraft as well as fire engines and bulldozers are attacking the blaze in grassland and sagebrush.

There are no reports of injuries or structures lost in the sparsely populated area. The fire is 20 percent contained.

Bureau of Land Management

Firefighters are trying to stop a 10-square-mile wildfire burning through primary sage grouse habitat in a remote part of southwest Idaho.

Nearly 200 firefighters backed by 10 aircraft, 17 fire engines and six bulldozers on Tuesday worked to contain the fast-moving fire that started Monday morning.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Carrie Bilbao says the area contains grasslands and sage brush with scattered ranches.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

When a person loses their sight, everyday tasks become a challenge. Walking across the street, reading a book - even hobbies can seem nearly impossible.  But one Idaho man is working to introduce visually impaired individuals to a whole new world of sound. He’s teaching the blind how to identify birds, using only their calls.

Steve Bouffard has his eyes closed and he’s listening intently on the edge of Veterans Memorial Park. He quickly identifies a song sparrow, using only the sound of its call.

Stephen Mellentine / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama’s new EPA rule seeking drastic reductions in carbon emissions could create more room in the industry for cleaner forms of energy. One of those is geothermal. In eastern Oregon and parts of Idaho, a new study by the US Geological Survey (USGS) will look closer at this potential source, and its connection to the drought-stricken West.