Screen grab usbr.gov / Bureau of Reclamation

The three big reservoirs on the Boise River started summer with a good bit of water left over from the previous year. Altogether, they are a little under half full right now. That’s below normal, according to Brian Sauer with the Bureau of Reclamation in Boise.

“And we’re still in irrigation season so it will drop some more,” Sauer says.

Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation / BLM

Brian Maxfield is a wildlife conservation biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. And he's a bit of a voyeur.

Back in the spring, Maxfield strapped transmitters to about a dozen greater sage grouse in northeastern Utah. His goal? To spy on them.

Each bird’s every move is now a mosaic of color-coded dots on a clipboard he keeps in his pickup. Today, he’s honing in on the blue dot. And he’s worried.

The greater sage grouse is under threat. Its population has shrunk by more than 90 percent in the last century. Scientists say wildfire, invasive species, energy development and other human activities are to blame. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide if the bird will be added to the Endangered Species List.

Nick Myatt / Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Over the last few months you’ve heard a number of reports about a species of bird that lives in Idaho and 10 other western states. The greater sage grouse is in the spotlight as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decides whether the bird merits listing under the Endangered Species Act. If the grouse is listed, it could have devastating effects on the regional economy. 

National Weather Service Boise

If you’re going camping over Labor Day, be sure to take a jacket. It will definitely be cold and forecasters say some mountain areas could even see snow.

Temperatures will also drop in the Treasure Valley, thanks to an anomaly in the Pacific Ocean. Forecasters say for the first time ever, three large hurricanes were recorded east of the International Date Line at the same time.


The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) says Idaho’s biggest wildfire this year, the nearly 300,000 acre Soda Fire, generated potential hazardous material sites. One is an old mercury processing facility in the Owyhee County desert that was cleaned up four years ago.

Northwest Public Radio

As high winds continued to fan a wildfire near Omak, Martín de la Rosa and his co-workers got the day off from picking apples because of the smoke. They drank beer and listened to music outside a cluster of small cabins surrounded by orchards. But they didn’t get any information about fires burning in the Okanogan Complex until they were dangerously close to home. By the time the foreman came to see them, de la Rosa says, “We were seeing smoke, and planes were out spraying.” 

NASA/Jeff Schmaltz

Monday's crisp and clear air is a welcome relief after weeks of wildfire smoke fumigated valleys around Idaho. The real-time monitor from the Department of Environmental Quality shows just how much things have improved, even in places where fires are still raging.

Lacey Daley / Boise State Public Radio

A federal judge in North Dakota has blocked a new rule that would give the federal government jurisdiction over some state waters.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson of North Dakota issued a temporary injunction Thursday against the Obama administration rule. The rule gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers authority to protect some streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game

A nearly toothless, 25-year-old male grizzly bear that repeatedly broke into buildings in eastern Idaho has been euthanized.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game in a statement Thursday says the grizzly was killed Monday near Island Park because it had become habituated to human-related foods.

Regional Wildlife Manager Curtis Hendricks says the bear made no direct threat to humans but its advanced age and decreasing ability to forage naturally increased the potential for conflict.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Southwest Idaho’s nearly 300,000 acre Soda Fire is the largest this year in areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Most of the burned area was habitat for the sage grouse, the bird whose status as a contender for the Endangered Species List could affect ranching, recreation and energy production in 11 western states. That is why the national director of the BLM was in Boise Wednesday to talk about rehabilitating that land.

J. Alleman / Bureau of Land Management

The Soda Fire was officially contained this week, at 445 square miles. Now thoughts turn to reclaiming the landscape southwest of Boise.

A team of 40 specialists spent five days in the field, surveying the burned area. Their goal is to find and fight threats to life, property and resources over the next three years.

T.J. Clifford is the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team Leader for the Soda Fire. The team is working for the Bureau of Land Management but is made up of people from multiple agencies.

Thomas M. Parsons / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho officials aren't ruling out that new state parks could be named after private companies that give large donations or sponsorships, but a recently proposed set of rules would severely limit business' ability to acquire naming rights.

Earlier this year, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed legislation permitting the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation to pursue sponsorships with corporations to help offset slashed state revenue. Now department officials are finalizing sponsorship rules, which will need approval from the department board and Idaho Legislature.

Soda Fire

Wild horses that survived the Soda Fire now face another threat: starvation, after the fire burned their food supply. The Bureau of Land Management plans to rescue those animals and feed and house them until the landscape can recover.

Arbyreed / Flickr Creative Commons

An Idaho-based company that makes most of the retardant used on wildfires has stopped making the substance in its traditional rusty red, opting instead for a hot pink color.

The Missoulian reports that Phos-Chek representative Lou Gildemeister says pilots report that the pink clouds have better visibility.

Air tankers draw lines of retardant around the perimeter of a wildfire, but if they can't see where the substance lands they could leave gaps.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

More than 70 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand arrived in Boise Sunday to help fight wildfires burning throughout the Northwest. They are currently at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise for training and will deploy later this week. Area fire managers requested their help last week, following a rash of large fires that have stretched American resources very thin.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued an alert Monday declaring air quality unhealthy again in the Treasure Valley. The agency issued a similar alert last Thursday.  

If your shortness of breath is giving you déjà vu, you’re not alone. This summer's smoke and wildfires are approaching the numbers put up in the summers of 2007, 2012 and 2013.

Boise National Forest

Australian and New Zealand firefighters have arrived in the United States and on Monday prepared to fan out to help fight wildfires burning in several western states.

The 70 firefighters are scheduled to receive protective equipment at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, where an air quality alert is in effect due to smoke from regional wildfires.

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

According to a new report from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA),  the number of male sage grouse in the western U.S. has increased by 63 percent over the last two years. Sage grouse used to number in the millions, but the bird's population has taken a nosedive over the last century. The U.S.

Nicholas D. / Flickr

Smoke from wildfires continues to plague the Treasure Valley. Forecasters say things will get worse before they get better.

Winds are out of the northwest Friday and expected to be again Saturday. That will actually bring more smoke into the Treasure Valley.

Valerie Mills is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boise.