Environment

Rita Poe/Estate of Rita Poe / via AP Photo

Nancy Zingheim barely knew Rita Poe when Poe approached her office at a Washington state RV park. Poe, a shy registered nurse, had a request for the RV park business manager: Could Zingheim help her with her will?

Weeks later, the 66-year-old Poe died of colorectal cancer. In her will, she left nearly $800,000 to a dozen national wildlife refuges and parks, mostly in the American West. She named Zingheim the executor.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a departmental review of how the greater sage grouse is protected. 

The sage grouse lives in 11 western states, and its habitat spans more than 40 million acres. The bird’s population has declined significantly in recent decades, as natural resource development expanded in some states.

In 2015, the Obama administration decided not to put the bird on the Endangered Species List, in exchange for a habitat-wide approach to preserving the animal. That plan restricts oil, gas and mining development in sage grouse country.

Zoo Boise

Zoo Boise is worried about the safety of its animals, as flood waters continue to rise along the Boise River. The city, which owns the zoo, is building a "Muscle Wall" to keep the water back. The flood barrier will be 2,000-feet-long and two-to-four feet tall.

City engineers say it will be similar to the flood barrier that was built to protect a gravel pit near Eagle Island.

Boise River Garden City whitewater
Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise River is running at some of the highest levels seen so far this season. Along with flooding around Eagle Island State Park, the river is also causing problems in Garden City.

Water managers say they have no plans to lessen the flow of the Boise River anytime soon. With temperatures expected to top out around a hundred tomorrow in Boise and conditions looking to be toasty across much of southern Idaho, lots of mountain snow will melt. That means more runoff coming into the reservoir system.

idaho gold mine
Michallaurence / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials have started an environmental analysis of a Canadian company's proposal for three open-pit gold mines in central Idaho.

The U.S. Forest Service said Monday it's preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for a plan by Midas Gold Corp. to unearth what it says are an estimated 4 million ounces of gold.

Company officials say the 20-year project about 3 miles east of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness would generate 1,000 well-paying jobs and save taxpayers money by cleaning up past mining activities.

Mookie Forcella / Flickr

With flooding affecting much of southern Idaho this spring, the National Weather Service revised its predictions on just how high the Big Wood River will rise.

Last week, the Weather Service projected the Big Wood reaching a peak of 7.88 ft. on Friday. While it didn’t get that high – the river topped out at 7.57 feet that day – meteorologists expect the river to approach the record of 7.93 ft. Tuesday.

Boise Police Department

The Boise River is rising again, to what officials say will be the highest levels so far this year.

Flows from the Lucky Peak Dam will go up Friday morning. An additional 500 cubic feet per second of water will be released. That will bring the flow to 9,300 cfs at the Glenwood Bridge gauge. That’s the highest flow this Spring since officials started pushing more and more water through the river to make room for melting snow in the mountains above Boise.

Paul Thompson / Flickr Creative Commons

Yellowstone National Park is now offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information about a wolf found shot in the park last month.

The National Park Service is investigating the death of a famous white female wolf. The service initially set a reward for information at $5,000. But park spokesperson Jonathan Shafer says a group of generous advocates have upped the ante.

“And we increased that amount to $25,000 as a result of a groundswell of interest from people who wanted to contribute to the reward fund,” says Shafer.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Water managers are crediting a new Idaho law with keeping water from leaving the state.

Idaho Department of Water Resources bureau chief Brian Patton says the updated policy is making things a little better for the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer. He says the state's existing water right is for one 1,200 cubic feet per second. But with all the snow southern Idaho received this winter, 15 times that amount was flowing down the river at different points.

Mark Davis

As the weather turns toward summer, bee colonies in Idaho are starting to expand. Every year, old colonies split away from the hive and go looking for a new home. It’s called Honey Bee Swarming and it happens from March through August.

Mark Davis says this year’s swarming is getting a late start, because of all the wet weather. Known as Treasure Valley’s “Bee Man,” Davis is the founder of the nonprofit, family-based Treasure Valley Bee Rescue, a group that will relocate swarms rather than exterminating them.

Chinook Salmon, fish
Pacific Northwest National Lab / Flickr Creative Commons

The reputation of what is generally considered Idaho's premier and nationally renowned fly fishing destination has taken a beating after three years of drought, but Silver Creek could get its groove back this season as abundant water fills its channels.

With the fishing season opening this weekend, anglers hope the resurgence draws brown and rainbow trout to bite artificial flies dancing on the stream's mirror-smooth surface. The area, which attracted luminaries such as Ernest Hemingway in the 1940s, also is a prime spot for birders and nature enthusiasts.

Blaine County Sheriff / Facebook

Officials in Blaine County are telling residents water levels in the Big Wood River will rise again.  

Cooler temperatures and a momentary reprieve from flooding in the Wood River Valley are being called “the eye of the hurricane.” Speaking to a group at the Community Campus, Hailey City Councilman Don Keirn invoked the imagery while reminding people there's still plenty of snow yet to melt in the mountains.

Idaho National Laboratory

Some cleanup efforts at a nuclear waste landfill in eastern Idaho are on hold while workers try to figure out what caused a collapse in a dig area that sent an excavator into a pit.

The excavator was digging up transuranic waste — which is waste contaminated with highly radioactive elements.

No radiation was released during the incident last Thursday, and no one was injured, said Erik Simpson with Fluor Idaho, the contractor hired to clean up the site at the Idaho National Laboratory.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife / Associated Press

Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Department is holding a second hearing on a wolf plan Friday in Portland. The plan is unpopular with ranchers and wolf supporters alike.

Oregon didn’t have documented wolves before 2005. Since then, thanks to the animals crossing over the border from Idaho, Oregon now has 11 packs, totaling at least 112 wolves. Twelve years ago, the state adopted a plan to manage the wolves but wants to revise it now that the population is growing.

Linn Kinter / Idaho Fish and Game

As we've reported, the Japanese yew is a commonly planted ornamental evergreen in Idaho -- with lethal ramifications for wildlife. Once an elk eats just a couple handfuls of the plant, the animal goes into cardiac arrest and dies within hours. Idaho Fish and Game estimates about 75 elk and pronghorn around the state died this winter from eating yew.

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