Environment

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Tow boat captains, wheat exporters, and the directors of the farthest inland ports in the Northwest are breathing easier today.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart Monday rejected an environmental and tribal challenge to dredging of the lower Snake River.

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Hunters participating in a wolf- and coyote-shooting contest in east-central Idaho killed 30 coyotes but no wolves.

Idaho for Wildlife's Steve Alder says the Predator Hunting Contest and Fur Rendezvous that ran Friday through Sunday near Salmon drew less than 100 hunters, down slightly from last year.

A 4.9-magnitude earthquake struck about 60 miles to the north of Salmon on Saturday and was followed by aftershocks on Sunday.

Dan Stahler / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr

A hunting derby, with top prizes for wolves and coyotes, is underway in Salmon. It’s the second year in a row for the controversial event.

The group Idaho for Wildlife is handing out a $1,000 each for the most wolves and the most coyotes killed.

A year ago, more than 230 hunters converged near Salmon for the derby. No wolves were shot, and 21 coyotes were killed. Last year, the Humane Society of the United States issued one of the strongest rebukes of the event. It called the contest a “wolf massacre” and labeled organizers as “ruthless.”

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Hydrologists from the Natural Resources Conservation Service  measured snow pack Tuesday in the mountains above the Treasure Valley. At the Mores Creek sight near Idaho City, snow pack was 53 inches. But more importantly, says water supply specialist Ron Abramovich, that snow contains 14 inches of water.

“And normally at this time of year we’d have 12 inches of water in the snow pack” he says. “So we’re a little above average, which is good.”

earthquakes
Domesticat / Flickr Creative Commons

The latest earthquake swarm in central Idaho could help scientists better understand quake belts extending from Yellowstone National Park.

The most recent swarm in the Challis area started this week and so far 20 quakes have been recorded, the largest a 3.7 magnitude on Monday.

No damage has been reported.

Scientist Mike Stickney of the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology based in Butte, Montana, says a portable seismograph left in place after a swarm last summer has helped pinpoint the earthquakes.

National Weather Service

Update, 9:15 a.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for much of southern Idaho and southeastern Oregon. The advisory will take effect late Wednesday afternoon as a cold front blows through.

Tony Morris / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking Indian tribes, government agencies and others to submit information about conservation efforts for the greater sage grouse.

The service said Monday it needs the best data possible to make a decision on whether the bird warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Congress has barred the federal government from spending money on rules to protect the bird, but the Fish and Wildlife Service says it is still bound by a court order to reach a decision by September on whether a listing is warranted.

Custer County officials in central Idaho say there's no damage from an earthquake that shook the area Monday morning.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 3.7-magnitude temblor occurred about 10:20 a.m. and was located about a mile east of Challis and about a mile deep.

Linda Lumpkin of the Custer County Sheriff's Office says the quake was widely felt among residents in the sparsely populated area.

But she says residents are used to the ground shaking after a swarm of quakes up to 4.9 in magnitude last spring that peaked in mid-April.

grizzly, bear, yellowstone
Neal Herbert / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr

An advocacy group has petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce grizzly bears into the Selway-Bitterroot area of Idaho and Montana.

The Center for Biological Diversity said Thursday that it hopes to revive a stalled recovery plan for the animals that was finalized in 2000.

The group says having bears in the Selway-Bitterroot would help connect grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park with other populations of the animals in Montana and Idaho. It says the 16-million-acre area could support 300 to 600 bears.

TBiley / Flickr Creative Commons

Greek yogurt maker Chobani says a newly installed reverse-osmosis filtration system at its south-central Idaho plant will reduce the company's consumption of water by 20 percent.

The Times-News reports that the company is installing the new machine to help reduce complaints from its residential neighbors.

Last year, Hollister residents complained about increased truck traffic and odors coming from a local farm that recycled the company's acid whey, which is a waste product of the yogurt plant.

New research could have implications for cattle and sheep grazing in the habitat of a ground-dwelling bird that environmentalists say needs federal protection across the Rocky Mountain region.

A study published in the December issue of Wildlife Biology examines the relationship between nesting success by the greater sage grouse and the height of grass nearby.

Environmental groups including WildEarth Guardians say the study is cause for concern about livestock grazing in sage grouse habitat. Others say grazing can improve habitat for sage grouse.

An 11-year state and federal study of selenium pollution in a southeastern Idaho watershed where some 700 sheep, cattle and horses have died over the last several decades after grazing in contaminated areas has found the toxin is likely moving through groundwater.

The 36-page study on the Upper Blackfoot River Watershed released earlier this month by the U.S. Geological Survey also found that selenium levels spiked in the river during spring thaw.

Researchers say the inactive Maybe Canyon Mine is producing the most contamination.

USFWS

The future of the greater sage grouse, already uncertain, may get even murkier because Congress is considering delaying protections for the Western bird.

Congress is considering a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would keep the federal government from shutting down. A legislative rider in the bill would put the brakes on protecting the bird.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

One grizzly bear's incredible 5,000-mile journey across Montana and Idaho has scientists re-thinking what they know about the animals.

Ethyl the grizzly bear walked from Kalispell, Mont. west toward Coeur d’Alene and back east toward Missoula. She covered thousands of miles of mountainous terrain in just two years, and scientists are still trying to figure out why.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grizzly bear recovery coordinator Chris Servheen says Ethyl's story began when she was first captured in 2006 east of Kalispell, Mont.

Treasure Valley commuters navigated dense fog Friday morning, and more fog could be on the way for early Sunday.

A National Weather Service Boise forecaster just happened to climb Table Rock as the fog rolled through the eastern part of the valley. The forecaster pulled out his iPhone and captured a neat perspective on Friday morning's fog.

Source: National Weather Service Boise

Bruce Reichert / Idaho Public Television

Idaho Public Television is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act with a sweeping hour-long look at Idaho's wild places. The program Outdoor Idaho traveled to all seven of Idaho’s wilderness areas -- and two proposed wilderness areas -- to tell the story of the state's protected places.

WCN 24/7 / Flickr

Tis the season when Idahoans will be getting their Christmas trees. For some, that means a trip to the Boise or Payette National Forest; a holiday tradition in some families.

Permits to cut down Christmas trees in Idaho forests went on sale this weekend.

Lewiston, Idaho has had unusual bragging rights for the past 40 years. It's the farthest inland seaport on the West Coast -- 465 miles upriver from the Pacific Ocean.

BostonTx / Flickr

Environmental groups and the Nez Perce Tribe have filed a lawsuit to prevent dredging of the lower Snake River that enables Lewiston, Idaho, to be the most inland seaport on the West Coast.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Seattle, challenges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' approval of a $6.7 million dredging project scheduled to begin next month.

The lawsuit was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of a coalition of environmental groups.

irmiller / Flickr

Scientists say water quality in the Coeur d'Alene and Spokane river basins in northern Idaho and eastern Washington state is improving due to ongoing efforts cleaning up one of the nation's largest Superfund sites.

The United States Geological Survey in a report released Monday says concentrations of cadmium, lead and zinc decreased significantly since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began the cleanup process in the 1990s.

However, the study also found that the concentration in some streams is above what's considered toxic to aquatic organisms.

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