Environment

Wildlife
11:02 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Yellowstone Park Fighting Online Supervolcano Rumors

Credit Yellowstone NPS / Flickr Creative Commons

Yellowstone National Park is trying to fight online rumors that running bison seen in a YouTube video are fleeing a possible explosion of the park's supervolcano.

The video was posted on March 20, 10 days before a magnitude-4.8 earthquake hit, the strongest quake in 30 years.

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Wildlife
10:34 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Rockies Gray Wolf Numbers Steady Despite Hunting

Credit Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

A new population tally of gray wolves in the U.S. Northern Rockies shows their continued resilience despite increased hunting, trapping and government-sponsored pack removals.

State and federal agencies said Friday there were a minimum of 1,691 wolves at the end of 2013.

That's virtually unchanged from the prior year even as state wildlife agencies adopted aggressive tactics to drive down wolf numbers.

Under pressure from livestock and hunting groups, Idaho officials have used helicopters to shoot packs. Montana has eased hunting and trapping rules.

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Water
11:05 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Boise River Flow Increases Sixfold, Water Managers To Maintain Current Level

Flow in the Boise River has increased significantly in the last several days. Whitewater - absent for much of the winter - can be see in this location in east Boise.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Those managing water flow in the Boise River Basin say they plan to keep the river at its current level for the foreseeable future.

The river is been flowing at roughly 1,800 cubic feet per second at the Glenwood Street bridge in Boise.  The flow last week was around 300 cfs and then increased steadily over the weekend.

Snake River Area Office Water Operations Manager Brian Sauer says the outflow at Lucky Peak reached 1,800 cfs for the first time this season at 8 a.m. Monday.  Flood level is 7,000 cfs.

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Wildlife
9:44 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Got Space? Montana Needs A Home For 135 Bison

Bison weigh between 900-2,000 pounds and are up to 6.5 feet tall at their shoulder.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Montana wildlife officials say they are seeking proposals to take up to 135 disease-free bison being held under an experimental effort to establish new populations of the animals.

The small herd in the U.S. Department of Agriculture program is made up of animals captured from Yellowstone National Park and their descendants.

The bison have been held for the past several years on behalf of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks at a Bozeman-area ranch owned by philanthropist Ted Turner.

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Drought
8:55 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Drought In Idaho's Elmore County Means It's Now A Disaster Area

The latest drought map of Idaho, issued March 27, 2014 by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Credit U.S. Drought Monitor

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has added a southern Idaho county to its list of Idaho regions considered natural disaster areas because of drought.

The department designated Elmore County a primary natural disaster area, making farmers and ranchers in the county eligible for natural disaster assistance. Other Idaho counties with federal natural disaster declarations include Ada, Boise, Custer, Owyhee, Blaine, Camas, Gooding and Twin Falls.

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Water
5:07 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Idaho Seeks Preliminary Permit From FERC As Part Of Weiser Dam Study

Flooding on the Weiser River near Cambridge kept state crews busy in early March. Better flood control would be one goal of a new dam on the river.
Credit Idaho Transportation Department

 Idaho water managers this week filed an application for a preliminary permit with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. The state's Water Resource Board continues to study the feasibility of building a new dam on the Weiser River. 

The Galloway Dam Site would include a 40-60 megawatt hydropower plant.  The project would be located 13.5 miles upstream of the confluence of the Weiser and Snake rivers.

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Dams
11:51 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Army Corps To Kill Birds At Snake And Columbia River Dams

Columbia River Gorge
Credit Shawn Kinkade / Flickr

The Army Corps of Engineers this spring will begin killing birds at some Snake and Columbia river dams to help protect juvenile salmon and steelhead.

The agency unveiled a plan Thursday that will allow as many as 1,200 California gulls, 650 ring-billed gulls and 150 double-crested cormorants to be killed.

The Lewiston Tribune says the action will occur at McNary Dam on the Columbia River and Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite dams on the Snake River.

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Wolves
3:44 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Governor Otter Signs Wolf Control Bill

Credit U.S. Fish & Wildlife

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed a bill to create a state board that will work to control the growth of wolf populations in the state.

Otter signed the bill on Wednesday, despite opposition from some conservation groups.

The bill, which passed on the final day of the recent legislative session, creates a $400,000 fund and establishes a five-member board whose job is to authorize the killing of wolves that come into conflict with wildlife or livestock.

The money comes from the state's general fund.

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Grazing
10:57 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Federal Judge Upholds Bighorn Protection Plan

Credit Travis S. / Flickr

A federal judge has ruled that a U.S. Forest Service plan to reduce domestic sheep grazing on the Payette National Forest by about 70 percent to protect bighorn sheep from diseases will remain in place.

Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge A. Wallace Tashima, sitting by designation for the District of Idaho, made the ruling on Tuesday.

Sheep ranchers in Idaho and other states in 2012 sued the Forest Service over the bighorn sheep protection plan announced in 2010.

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Wildlife
6:35 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Study: Sage Grouse Habitat Slow To Rebound After Fire

File photo of a Greater Sage-Grouse
U.S. Fish and WIldlife Service

A new study suggests creating livable habitat for the dwindling sage grouse may be trickier than originally thought.

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Wildlife
9:41 am
Mon March 24, 2014

With Idaho Wolves On The Decline, Environmental Groups To Ask For Federal Protection

Credit Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Idaho's wolf population is on the decline, heading toward 10 breeding pairs, or 150 wolves.

That's the goal set in the 2002 wolf management plan that will remain the state's official policy unless it is changed by the Legislature.

The Idaho Statesman reports that last week's legislation to establish an Idaho Wolf Control Board, along with efforts to expand and increase wolf hunting and trapping, has galvanized some national conservation groups.

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Wolves
12:26 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Lawmakers Want Gray Wolf Protections To Stay

Credit Washington Fish and Game

Federal lawmakers are pressing Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to drop a proposal that would end federal protections for wolves across most of the Lower 48 states.

Seventy-four House members signed onto a Wednesday letter to Jewell that cites a peer-review panel's recent conclusion the government relied on unsettled science to make its case.

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Wildfires
3:56 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Idaho Should Have 'Normal' Wildfire Season Thanks To Recent Storms

Last Summer's Beaver Creek Fire Threatened Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey
Credit InciWeb / http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3635/

It's still at least three months away, but it looks as though Idaho’s wildfire season should be fairly normal in 2014. Ed Delgado manages predictive services at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.

“We’ve got good snowpack right now and assuming it melts off fairly regularly over the next couple of months, that’s going to be good for the soils especially in the mountain areas,” Delgado says. “So that’s going to kind of prolong the wet period.”

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Wildfire Budget
3:03 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Interior Secretary Jewell, Congressmen Visit Boise To Tout Wildfire Suppression Funding Overhaul

Gov. Butch Otter flanked by Sec. Sally Jewell, Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Mike Crapo, Sen. Jim Risch, Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Rep. Raul Labrador.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

A coalition of Congressional Democrats and Republicans gathered in Boise Monday to tout a proposal that would change the way the federal government pays for firefighting operations in the West and beyond.   

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined Sen. Mike Crapo, R-ID, Sen. Jim Risch, R-ID, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-ID, and Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.

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Wildlife
1:38 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Hunters Kill Nearly 500 Wolves In Idaho, Montana

Credit Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Hunters and trappers in Montana killed 230 wolves during the recently concluded wolf season.

That's only five more wolves than the prior year's wolf harvest despite the lifting of quotas on the animals across most of the state and a higher bag limit for individual hunters.

Hunters took 144 wolves during a season that started in September and ended Saturday. Trappers took 86 wolves.

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Wildlife
11:28 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Montana Rule Lets Landowners Shoot Wolves Without A Permit

Credit U.S. Fish & Wildlife

The state Fish and Wildlife Commission has adopted regulations to implement a law that allows landowners to shoot threatening wolves on sight, without a hunting license.

Commissioners approved new wording and definitions for administrative rules on wolf management on Thursday.

Senate Bill 200, which passed last year, allowed landowners to kill wolves that threaten their property without having to buy a permit or hunting license.

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Water
7:57 am
Thu March 13, 2014

How One Snowstorm Can Change Idaho's Seasonal Water Outlook

Brian McInerney is a hydrologist with the National Weather Service.
Credit Julie Rose / For Boise State Public Radio

Randy Julander measures snowpack for the U.S. government’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. It’s his job to tell water users what they can expect to see flowing down their streams and irrigation canals come spring.

When Julander answered my recent phone call, he was way up in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. He was having some mixed feelings.

"Gosh, it’s clear skies and the sun is hotter than a two-dollar pistol. I’m sitting here at 8,500 feet and in shirt sleeves," Julander said.

"Does that seem like a good sign?" I asked.

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Avalanche
3:15 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Incredible Post-Avalanche Photo Shows What It Will Take To Clear Idaho's Highway 21

The Idaho Dept. of Transportation took this photo March 11, 2014. You can see an ITD employee in orange standing in the middle of the frame, on what should be the road.
Credit Credit Courtesy Idaho Department of Transportation

Underneath all that snow, ice, and tree debris is Idaho's Highway 21. Somewhere. This dramatic image from the Idaho Department of Transportation shows just how much work is ahead for road crews in clearing off a 12-mile section of the scenic road south of Stanley. That orange dot near the middle of the image is an ITD crew member.

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Public Lands
1:05 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Recreators And Environmentalists Reach Boulder-White Clouds Deal

The proposed national monument is 500,000 roadless acres.
Credit TheJesse / Flickr Creative Commons

Environmentalists and mountain bikers have reached agreement on a proposal for protecting the Boulder-White Clouds as a national monument.

The Idaho Statesman reported Tuesday that the agreement creates zones to maintain wilderness characteristics in some areas, while continuing mountain bike access to the popular area north of Sun Valley.

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Water
7:30 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Recent Rain Turns Concern To Optimism For Idaho Rafting Companies

Credit Cascade Raft and Kayak

The stretch of rain and snow across much of Idaho in the last few weeks has transformed what looked to be a terrible water year into a pretty good one. It’s not just farmers who are breathing easier now. Many in Idaho’s tourism industry, like whitewater rafting companies, rely on snowpack and stream flows as well.

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