Boise State Public Radio

If you could help reduce water pollution right in your laundry room, would you? As you unpack your fleece jacket when autumn rolls in, there’s new information that might make you reconsider how - and how often - you wash it.

The U.S. Forest Service has notified a conservation group that Idaho officials will not use a hired hunter to kill wolves in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness this winter.

Earthjustice in a statement says it received the notification Wednesday from the federal agency as required by the settlement of a federal lawsuit.

The letter from Forest Service officials to Earthjustice says the Idaho Department of Fish and Game notified the federal agency of its decision on Friday.

TheJesse / Flickr Creative Commons

Conservationists in Idaho continue to celebrate the designation of nearly 300,000 acres of wilderness area in the central part of the state. The U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to approve a bill that would designate large sections of the region as federally protected.

The vote was the second on the proposal in eight days.  The House passed the bill last week and President Obama is expected to sign it into law.

Boise National Forest

A dozen aircraft and more than 130 firefighters are working to contain three central Idaho wildfires sparked by lightning before they become so large they'll be impossible to put out until the end of the fire season.

Boise National Forest officials on Wednesday say a 20-acre fire about 3 miles from Idaho City is the most concerning because it's in heavy timber and about a mile from a phone tower.

Spokesman David Seesholtz says a 66-acre fire near Pilot Peak is less worrisome because it's moved to the top of a ridge.

Idaho's so-called "ag-gag" law, which outlawed undercover investigations of farming operations, is no more. A judge in the federal District Court for Idaho decided Monday that it was unconstitutional, citing First Amendment protections for free speech.

But what about the handful of other states with similar laws on the books?

Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

A new wilderness in Idaho is one step away.

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a bill protecting 275,000 acres in central Idaho.

The U.S. House or Representatives passed similar legislation last week meaning it now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.


Officials with Idaho State University are distancing themselves from one of their accountants who is being criticized for posting photos of large animals she's killed while hunting in South Africa.

In a statement, the university told The Associated Press Tuesday that Sabrina Corgatelli's personal choices are not representative of the school.

Corgatelli has posted photos of trophy kills —which include a giraffe, a kuda, an impala, a wildebeest and a warthog. Her postings have drawn outrage from commenters on her Facebook and Instagram pages.

TheJesse / Flickr Creative Commons

The push to protect almost 300,000 acres in central Idaho has picked up steam the last few weeks. A bill that would designate the Boulder-White Clouds mountains a wilderness area is in front of the U.S. Senate this week, and if it passes, will be on President Obama’s desk next.

IcaWise / Flickr Creative Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release updated air quality standards for the Treasure Valley in the next two months.

The Idaho Statesman reports the Treasure Valley includes Boise, and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality regional air quality monitoring coordinator Mike Toole says ground-level ozone pollution in the area typically hits below the current standard of 75 parts per billion.

That standard is expected to decrease, but officials are unsure by how much.

Dan Dzurisin / Flickr Creative Commons

WildEarth Guardians accuses the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho of removing nearly 4 million acres from a previous plan to protect sage grouse habitat, and not being transparent about it. The environmental and wildlife advocacy group wants to see the threatened bird listed under the Endangered Species Act.

A conservation easement has been signed on an east-central Idaho ranch that's been a top priority for state and federal authorities for years because it contains prime spawning streams for threatened salmon and steelhead.

The agreement between the Bonneville Power Administration and ranch owner Karl Tyler signed last week protects 10 miles of the meandering Lemhi River and half a dozen tributaries.

Lorraine Bodi of Bonneville Power says the agency paid several million dollars for the easement.

Idaho Statesman

The people trying to keep Skinny Dipper Hot Springs open are still fighting despite government setbacks.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management office sent a letter to the advocate group Growing Change, saying it could not accept a document from the group outlining proposals for long-term public use of the springs because they were not specific enough.

BLM Four River Field Office manager Tate Fischer announced that he would close Skinny Dipper in April due to concerns about health and safety.

Chris Willey / Flickr Creative Commons

The migration of sockeye salmon from the ocean to inland parts of the Northwest has been deadly this year. Hotter than normal temperatures early in the summer warmed up low-flowing rivers, and more than a quarter million sockeye are dead or dying in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

But Idaho Fish and Game biologist Mike Peterson says the conditions are allowing scientists to observe just how resilient salmon can be in warmer water.

TheJesse / Flickr Creative Commons

When Rick Johnson learned Monday the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would designate nearly 300,000 acres in central Idaho as wilderness - he was cautiously optimistic.  

Johnson is the executive director of the Idaho Conservation League. He’s among the Idahoans closely watching the progress of a bill sponsored in the House by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.

“It’s not the most functional legislative body the world has ever seen these days, so I think a lot of people retain a certain amount of skepticism,” he says.

Don Barrett / Flickr Creative Commons

Southwest Idaho stands out in bright red on the most recent drought map. The color signifies the area is in extreme drought. Jay Chamberlin of the Owyhee Irrigation District says that's not surprising, given the lack of snowpack last winter.

Jerry McFarland / Flickr

More than a quarter million sockeye salmon returning from the ocean to spawn are either dead or dying in the Columbia River and its tributaries due to warming water temperatures.

Federal and state fisheries biologists say water that is 5 to 6 degrees warmer is wiping out at least half of this year's returning population of the cold-water species.

Ritchie Graves of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says up to 80 percent of the population could ultimately perish.

Officials are trying to cool flows by releasing cold water from selected reservoirs.

The Idaho Transportation Department has agreed to pay a $52,000 fine after demolishing an asbestos-containing building in northern Idaho and potentially exposing the public to the cancer-causing fibers.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the agreement Thursday involving the November demolition of the state-owned building in Priest River.

The federal agency says the state agency failed to do an asbestos survey before the demolition and only learned of the demolition after receiving a public complaint.


Authorities say a cyclist started a 73-acre wildfire in southwest Idaho by lighting his toilet paper on fire after taking a comfort break.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials say the cyclist stopped to defecate in a ravine in the Boise foothills on Wednesday afternoon. The man then lit the toilet paper on fire but lost control of the embers in the dry grass while trying to extinguishing the waste.

Firefighters contained the flames several hours later.

Wendy / Flickr Creative Commons

A new study from an environmental think tank ranks Idaho among the states with a low ecological footprint. The study from the Global Footprint Network ranked states against one other on a number of green measures. Idaho received the top ranking for electricity generated from renewable energy. Washington and Oregon come in second and third, respectively.

A close look shows the renewable source that earned Idaho its high ranking is hydropower, with wind and biomass taking up smaller shares.

Kari Greer / Boise National Forest

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says closing public access to some state forest lands amid wildfire concerns by private timberland owners is an option that has to be considered due to extreme fire danger this year.

Consultant Jim Riley on Tuesday told Otter and other members of the Idaho Land Board that a million acres of private land has been closed this year to the public due to potential wildfire.

Riley says the private owners are concerned about human-caused fires starting on state land and spreading to neighboring timber stands.