Environment

John Carrel / Flickr Creative Commons

Warmer-than-normal winter temperatures may be to blame for bringing a grizzly bear out of hibernation early in Yellowstone National Park. The park confirmed a report of a grizzly eating a bison carcass on Feb. 9 in the central part of the park in Wyoming.

Jim Peaco | Yellowstone National Park / Flickr Creative Commons

A group of pro-wildlife organizations filed a lawsuit Wednesday against two federal agencies over animal control operations in Idaho. The suit names the USDA’s APHIS Wildlife Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The court filing alleges:

Dennis Amith / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho City residents have been told they need to boil their water before drinking it. The order went into effect Sunday after high levels of sediment was found coming out of the town's water treatment plant. 

Idaho City's drinking water comes from Elk Creek, which has been running with more soil and debris than normal from the recent rains. Mayor Jim Obland says the boil advisory is an inconvenience but a necessary precaution.

Last Friday much of eastern Washington and Oregon was pelted with a dirty rain, but so far scientists do not agree on a cause.

waterarchives.org / Flickr Creative Commons

It's still not clear what caused last week's malfunction at the Barber Dam in Boise. As we reported last week, the Boise River backed up behind the dam after an apparent power outage shut down the plant late Tuesday night. The river dropped well-below normal flows for almost eight hours before the dam's operators got it back up and running.

Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr Creative Commons

Yellowstone National Park will require an overnight backcountry permit fee starting May 1.

The National Park Service says the money raised from the new fee will help pay the costs of running the park's backcountry program.

Under the new fee, anyone obtaining a permit to stay overnight in the backcountry between Memorial Day and Sept. 10 will have to pay a per-person, per night permit fee for all individuals 9 years of age or older.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Fish and Game biologists are looking closely at the shallow areas of the Boise River right below Barber Dam. They're trying to determine how many trout hatchlings may have died when the river's flow dropped dramatically earlier this week.

USFWS Mountain-Prairie / Flickr Creative Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked Yellowstone National Park to allow public access to an area near Gardiner where captured wild bison are being held for slaughter.

An attorney for the ACLU said in a Friday letter to Yellowstone Administrator Dan Wenk that the closure of the Stephens Creek facility and surrounding areas of the park violates the public's right to observe the capture activities.

The civil liberties group represents wildlife advocates from the Buffalo Field Campaign and freelance journalist Christopher Ketcham.

Suzba / Flickr Creative Commons

After a power plant's alert system failed causing Wednesday's dramatic drop in the Boise River flow, Idaho Fish and Game biologists are concerned about potential impacts to wildlife. The river went from flowing at 290 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 81 cfs in a matter of hours.

Barber Dam's power was restored early Wednesday morning, constricting the flow of water for nearly eight hours.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

This story was updated at 4:55 p.m.

You might have noticed the Boise River was lower than normal Wednesday morning. At midnight, the gauge at Boise's Glenwood Bridge showed the river was flowing at 290 cubic feet per second (cfs). At 10:45 a.m., the river had dropped to just 81 cfs. 

Ryan Hedrick is a hydrologist at the Bureau of Reclamation, the agency that controls the flow of water to the river at Lucky Peak. He says the significant drop this morning was due to a problem at a Boise hydroelectric plant in the middle of the night.

Matt Woodard / Trout Unlimited

A unique group of conservationists, ranchers and miners was recently awarded a $430,000 federal grant to continue rehabilitation of a native Idaho trout. 

The project began in 2011, when the Yellowstone cutthroat trout was in decline on the Upper Blackfoot River in southeast Idaho. The native fish were getting caught in shallow ditches created by old irrigation systems used by area ranchers. The land sat on two tributaries of the Upper Blackfoot.

Miguel Vieira / Flickr Creative Commons

A committee of Idaho lawmakers tasked with looking at the possibility of acquiring federal lands - and putting them under state control - has issued a report to the full Legislature. 

The committee of nine  lawmakers and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney was formed as a way to explore sentiments on the issue, and to see if there’s a legitimate way for Idaho to take over control of federal land.

deq.idaho.gov

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) this week released several reports on important aquifers around the country. Idaho’s Snake River Plain Basin features in two of those reports. About a fifth of Idahoans rely on that aquifer as their only source of drinking water.

TheJesse / Flickr Creative Commons

Forty-four staffers who worked for U.S. Sen. Frank Church have sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to designate a national monument in central Idaho.

The letter dated Tuesday notes that the Idaho Democrat worked to preserve much of the state's wild areas during his 24 years in the Senate and that the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is named in his honor.

A plan by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho to designate a wilderness in the area has failed for years, though Simpson is working another effort.

It's been 75 years since salmon and steelhead last swam into the upper reaches of the Columbia River above Grand Coulee Dam.

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

This story was updated Jan. 23, 2015.

Idaho biologists say the number of wolves is likely declining, but their count of breeding pairs of wolves -- a key number used to measure the health of the state’s wolf population -- has actually gone up.

Initial estimates suggested the number of breeding pairs could be as low as 15. But Idaho Fish & Game biologist Jim Hayden said that they have been able to confirm at least 22 breeding pairs, up two from last year’s count.

Michael / Flickr Creative Commons

Avian influenza, or bird flu, is in Idaho. The virus is usually spread by wild waterfowl to domestic birds and has recently been found in Oregon, Washington, Utah, and California.

South-central Idaho groundwater pumpers might have to start shutting off water pumps this week.

Idaho Department of Water Resources Director Gary Spackman on Saturday denied a request by groundwater pumpers to delay a water curtailment order.

The Times-News reports that the order includes 14 cities and about 157,000 acres of land.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to remove Western juniper from a 1.5 million-acre area of public land in southwest Idaho to conserve sage grouse habitat.

BLM Boise District Manager Jim Fincher in a statement Friday says conserving habitat for sage grouse is a key method for improving an entire rangeland ecosystem.

The agency is hosting two public meetings to provide information about the plan in Owyhee County. The first is in Boise on Feb. 4 and the second in Murphy on Feb. 5.

Comments can also be sent to the agency by Feb. 20.

Idaho Fish and Game

More than 60 years ago, Idaho Fish and Game dropped beavers out of a plane and parachuted them into the state's backcountry. This little-known piece of Idaho history stars a crafty Fish and Game officer and a plucky male beaver named Geronimo.

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