Environment

idaho gold mine
Michallaurence / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials have started an environmental analysis of a Canadian company's proposal for three open-pit gold mines in central Idaho.

The U.S. Forest Service said Monday it's preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for a plan by Midas Gold Corp. to unearth what it says are an estimated 4 million ounces of gold.

Company officials say the 20-year project about 3 miles east of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness would generate 1,000 well-paying jobs and save taxpayers money by cleaning up past mining activities.

Mookie Forcella / Flickr

With flooding affecting much of southern Idaho this spring, the National Weather Service revised its predictions on just how high the Big Wood River will rise.

Last week, the Weather Service projected the Big Wood reaching a peak of 7.88 ft. on Friday. While it didn’t get that high – the river topped out at 7.57 feet that day – meteorologists expect the river to approach the record of 7.93 ft. Tuesday.

Boise Police Department

The Boise River is rising again, to what officials say will be the highest levels so far this year.

Flows from the Lucky Peak Dam will go up Friday morning. An additional 500 cubic feet per second of water will be released. That will bring the flow to 9,300 cfs at the Glenwood Bridge gauge. That’s the highest flow this Spring since officials started pushing more and more water through the river to make room for melting snow in the mountains above Boise.

Paul Thompson / Flickr Creative Commons

Yellowstone National Park is now offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information about a wolf found shot in the park last month.

The National Park Service is investigating the death of a famous white female wolf. The service initially set a reward for information at $5,000. But park spokesperson Jonathan Shafer says a group of generous advocates have upped the ante.

“And we increased that amount to $25,000 as a result of a groundswell of interest from people who wanted to contribute to the reward fund,” says Shafer.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Water managers are crediting a new Idaho law with keeping water from leaving the state.

Idaho Department of Water Resources bureau chief Brian Patton says the updated policy is making things a little better for the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer. He says the state's existing water right is for one 1,200 cubic feet per second. But with all the snow southern Idaho received this winter, 15 times that amount was flowing down the river at different points.

Mark Davis

As the weather turns toward summer, bee colonies in Idaho are starting to expand. Every year, old colonies split away from the hive and go looking for a new home. It’s called Honey Bee Swarming and it happens from March through August.

Mark Davis says this year’s swarming is getting a late start, because of all the wet weather. Known as Treasure Valley’s “Bee Man,” Davis is the founder of the nonprofit, family-based Treasure Valley Bee Rescue, a group that will relocate swarms rather than exterminating them.

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

The reputation of what is generally considered Idaho's premier and nationally renowned fly fishing destination has taken a beating after three years of drought, but Silver Creek could get its groove back this season as abundant water fills its channels.

With the fishing season opening this weekend, anglers hope the resurgence draws brown and rainbow trout to bite artificial flies dancing on the stream's mirror-smooth surface. The area, which attracted luminaries such as Ernest Hemingway in the 1940s, also is a prime spot for birders and nature enthusiasts.

Blaine County Sheriff / Facebook

Officials in Blaine County are telling residents water levels in the Big Wood River will rise again.  

Cooler temperatures and a momentary reprieve from flooding in the Wood River Valley are being called “the eye of the hurricane.” Speaking to a group at the Community Campus, Hailey City Councilman Don Keirn invoked the imagery while reminding people there's still plenty of snow yet to melt in the mountains.

Idaho National Laboratory

Some cleanup efforts at a nuclear waste landfill in eastern Idaho are on hold while workers try to figure out what caused a collapse in a dig area that sent an excavator into a pit.

The excavator was digging up transuranic waste — which is waste contaminated with highly radioactive elements.

No radiation was released during the incident last Thursday, and no one was injured, said Erik Simpson with Fluor Idaho, the contractor hired to clean up the site at the Idaho National Laboratory.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife / Associated Press

Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Department is holding a second hearing on a wolf plan Friday in Portland. The plan is unpopular with ranchers and wolf supporters alike.

Oregon didn’t have documented wolves before 2005. Since then, thanks to the animals crossing over the border from Idaho, Oregon now has 11 packs, totaling at least 112 wolves. Twelve years ago, the state adopted a plan to manage the wolves but wants to revise it now that the population is growing.

Linn Kinter / Idaho Fish and Game

As we've reported, the Japanese yew is a commonly planted ornamental evergreen in Idaho -- with lethal ramifications for wildlife. Once an elk eats just a couple handfuls of the plant, the animal goes into cardiac arrest and dies within hours. Idaho Fish and Game estimates about 75 elk and pronghorn around the state died this winter from eating yew.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Toward the end of Table Rock Road in Boise, Bob DiGrazia points to a ridge a few hundred yards away.

“It was on January 5th I walked up here," he says. "And I could see birds and coyotes over here. Like coyotes on one carcass,  six to eight [of them].”

DiGrazia is a hunter and he often comes to this spot to just watch elk on the ridge grazing in the winter. That January day, he could see dead elk on the ground in distance. At first he thought poachers were to blame.

He called Idaho Fish and Game and a conservation officer came up right away.

Roger Phillips / Idaho Department of Fish and Game

It’s that time of year, when the quiet Nampa Fish Hatchery starts delivering thousands of mostly rainbow trout around the state for anglers to catch. But high water means some of that prime fishing will have to wait.

Each year, Idaho Fish and Game stocks more than 22 million fish from 12 different hatcheries into lakes, reservoirs and ponds. Most of the 18 species of fish are rainbow trout and kokanee salmon.

Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

Wood River Valley residents continued to battle floodwaters over the weekend. Officials distributed sandbags as worried residents moved to fortify their homes throughout Blaine County. 

The Big Wood River continued to rush along at flood-level stages. The river hit a peak level on Friday night, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began reinforcing the Broadford levee in Bellevue. On Saturday, Governor Butch Otter arrived in Hailey to meet with local officials.

Each day, librarian Randy Kemp has seen Warm Springs Creek rise and rise by his Ketchum home.

Boise River, Flooding
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Boise River levels will be on the rise again next week. Officials  with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation hope that by increasing it from 8,900 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 9,500 now, they can reduce the risk of more severe flooding later this spring.

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