Environment

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.

Jason / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Forest Service is asking for public comment on plans to build a road and bring drilling equipment to a remote area of Idaho's Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

American Independence Mines and Mineral Company wants to turn a profit on gold ore near Big Creek on the Payette National Forest.

National Weather Service Boise

If you've ever wondered what it's like to watch a mountain lake freeze before your eyes, you're in luck. A timelapse video of Redfish Lake shows the ice creeping across the water in a matter of seconds.

The webcam responsible for catching this footage is set up by the Sawtooth Interpretive and Historical Association. Gary Gadwa is in charge of the nonprofit.

State officials say they plan to fine the federal government $3,600 per day for missing a deadline to remove nuclear waste from a southeast Idaho nuclear facility.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality says the U.S. Department of Energy missed a Dec. 31 deadline to ship nuclear waste out of the Idaho National Laboratory.

The Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Canadian oil sands down to the U.S. Gulf Coast, isn't just an infrastructure project. It's also a symbol for the fight over the future of energy.

Producing oil from Alberta's tar sands emits more pollution than traditional oil drilling, so many environmentalists want that crude left in the ground. And more broadly, they want the world to turn away from climate-changing fossil fuels toward cleaner forms of energy, like wind and solar.

Tony Morris / Flickr Creative Commons

A Boise State University professor will help decide the future of fire management on greater sage grouse habitat.

Political science and public policy professor John Freemuth is part of a national group of experts who will report to the new Rangeland Fire Task Force. This week, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell created the task force.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is calling for a new wildfire-fighting strategy that protects sagebrush country in the intermountain West that supports cattle ranching as well as a struggling bird species.

She issued an order Tuesday seeking a "science-based" strategy that safeguards the greater sage grouse while contending with fires that have been especially destructive in the Great Basin region of Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and California.

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.

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