Environment

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal authorities have rejected a request by an irrigation company in southeastern Idaho to build a dam on the Bear River.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday voted to deny Twin Lakes Canal Company's license application for a 109-foot-high dam with a 10-megawatt powerhouse.

Commissioners say the project would inundate the Bureau of Land Management's Oneida Narrows Research Natural Area with resulting loss of recreation, wildlife and fishing resources that could not be replaced.

Zoo Boise

Teenagers volunteering at Zoo Boise are helping to try and save one of the world’s most endangered mammals.

The teens are using an information booth to raise money for the Saola - a forest mammal that lives in Vietnam. The animal rocked the scientific world when, in 1992, scientists first discovered what turned out to be not just a brand new species, but a whole new genus.

These antelope-type creatures have two long curing horns on their heads and white spots on their faces. They are remarkably shy and gentle, and have never been seen alive in the wild by scientists.

Yasushi Ish / Flickr Creative Commons

The National Park Service is celebrating its centennial this summer. At the nation’s first park, attendance is on the rise. But deadly incidents this year at Yellowstone are reminders of the inherent wildness of the park.

Twenty-three-year-old Colin Scott was 225 yards away from the designated boardwalk at the Norris Geyser Basin when he apparently slipped and fell into a hot spring. Scott is the 22nd person known to have died in the park's acidic pools.

Matt Leidecker

It’s been almost a year since President Obama signed a bill establishing three new Wilderness areas in Idaho’s Boulder-White Cloud Mountains. With the designation comes tourism, and one writer wants to help more people explore the landscape.

Matt Leidecker has written five guidebooks, including one on Sun Valley and one on the Sawtooths. His fifth book, “Exploring the Boulder-White Clouds - A Comprehensive Guide,” comes out this month.

Mick Thompson / Flickr Creative Commons

The reward for information leading to the person or persons who illegally killed a federally protected grizzly bear in eastern Idaho is up to $15,600.

The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday announced it's contributing $5,000.

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust also on Thursday announced they're offering $5,000.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already offered $5,000 to the reward that includes $600 from the Citizens Against Poaching.

Phil Morrisey / National Resources Conservation Service

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) relies on data from mountain measuring tools known as SNOTEL sites to forecast how much water Idaho will have each year. This information helps farmers determine which crops to grow (a drier year means they may choose less water-intensive crops) and gives water managers data to plan for flood control. Recreationists use the data to figure out the wildest rivers to ride in the summer.

Soda Fire

The Bureau of Land Management has fined an Idaho woman who attempted to rescue an emaciated wild horse.

The Post Register reports that the BLM fined Cynthia Stoetzer $275 for attempting to move the animal she encountered while riding her horse in Utah in April.

Stoetzer says she felt compelled to follow her heart, so she loaded the mustang into her horse trailer and took it to the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab. BLM took the horse back the next day and brought it to its ranch in Axtell, Utah.

A wildfire burning in grass and sagebrush has scorched about 180 acres in southwest Idaho but is expected to be controlled Monday afternoon.

Fire spokesman Rob Hansen of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management says crews responded just before 1 p.m. Sunday to a fire about 15 miles southeast of Murphy.

He says a small air tanker, four engines and two bulldozers participated in getting the fire contained by 10 p.m. Sunday.

Hansen says the fire had the potential to burn a wide area, but quick response by the Grand View Fire Department and then BLM crews helped contain it.

Jimmy Emerson / Flickr Creative Commons

Water banking is something you’ve probably heard of in stories about California’s drought. The idea is that if you’re a farmer with a water right and have more water than you need for that year, you can sell it to another farmer in the system who needs more.

“Idaho’s actually somewhat on the forefront of water banking," says Neeley Miller of the Idaho Department of Water Resources, "and I think what the board would like to do is enhance those mechanisms.”

Five conservation groups on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Idaho seeking to stop a federal agency from killing wolves in the state until a new environmental analysis is prepared.

Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project and four other groups in the 27-page federal lawsuit say the 2011 analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services is outdated.

 

Erin McClure / Boise State Public Radio

In 2014, an analysis in Ada County determined that nearly half of the trash being thrown out by residential households was organic waste, such as food scraps, yard debris, and compostable paper. Now, in an effort to reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill, the City of Boise has announced plans for a public composting program.

Boise city staff presented the first details of the composting program proposal at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting. City spokesman Mike Journee says it’s been dubbed ‘Curb It 2’ and will be an extension of Curb It, the city’s recycling system.

Federal authorities have fined an Idaho food processing company $273,000 following the release of a dangerous gas.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Tuesday announced the fine against Dickinson Frozen Foods.

Authorities say the large release of anhydrous ammonia in December 2015 at its eastern Idaho plant in Sugar City where it processes potatoes didn't cause any injuries but other major ammonia releases at the facility have.

Travis S. / Flickr

Federal officials have released a plan to close about 30 square miles of grazing allotments to domestic sheep and goats in west-central Idaho to protect bighorn sheep from diseases.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's release of the final supplemental environmental impact statement closing three allotments starts a protest period that runs through June 19.

Two of the allotments are east of Riggins near the Salmon River and one is to the south along the Little Salmon River.

Bogus Basin Recreation Area

Idaho water managers say they will step up funding for a cloud seeding program that's already been credited with increasing the state's mountain snowpack.

The Capital Press reports that the Idaho Power Co. program releases silver iodine into the atmosphere, which helps ice form in the clouds and increases precipitation.

The cloud seeding began in 2003. Idaho Power estimates that the extra snowpack creates an average of 800,000 acre-feet of water, roughly the volume of the American Falls Reservoir. It generates enough hydro-power to supply 17,000 homes.

Steelhead
Matt Corsi / Idaho Fish and Game

The first attempt to delist one of the 13 species of Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead protected under the Endangered Species Act has been denied by federal authorities.

The decision made public Thursday by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries cites concerns Snake River fall chinook wouldn't remain viable without continued protections.

An Alaska commercial fishing advocacy group called Chinook Futures Coalition requested the delisting in January 2015.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

For the first time, U.S. officials have sent firefighters to help battle a giant blaze in Canada that has destroyed parts of Fort McMurray in Alberta.

The National Interagency Fire Center says 100 firefighters flew out of in Boise, Idaho, on Wednesday morning and another 100 left from Missoula, Montana.

Officials say the firefighters are from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell announced $10 million to go toward making landscapes more resilient against wildfires across the country. It’s a continuation of a directive she made last year in Boise. She made the announcement Tuesday at the National Interagency Fire Center.

 

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

A coalition in southern Idaho hopes to turn Craters of the Moon National Monument into Idaho's first national park.

Butte County commissioner Rose Bernal told KIVI-TV that getting the monument national park status could provide a much-needed boost to the struggling local economy and draw tourists already headed to Yellowstone. But opponents fear a switch could lead to land use limitations.

Yellowstone National Park extends slightly into Idaho and Montana, but it's mostly in Wyoming.

Dr. Clinton Shock

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Tuesday will visit the sagebrush burned in last year’s massive Soda Fire in southwest Idaho and eastern Oregon. The Bureau of Land Management is working to recover the area, but a group of private scientists are concerned about the way the recovery is being handled. Specifically, that the agency is hurrying through the recovery without following its own concepts for adaptive management. The BLM though, says the project is being handled correctly.

WaterArchives / Flickr Creative Commons

The Army Corps of Engineers Wednesday told the Idaho Department of Water Resources it could not recommend raising the height of Arrowrock Dam on the Boise River. The announcement was a disappointment to the state and the Corps.

The water resources board thought raising the height of the hundred-year-old dam would be the best way to reduce flood risk and increase water storage in the Treasure Valley. So it commissioned the Army Corps to study it. After a seven-year study costing nearly $3 million, the Corps agreed.

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