Environment

irmiller / Flickr

Scientists say water quality in the Coeur d'Alene and Spokane river basins in northern Idaho and eastern Washington state is improving due to ongoing efforts cleaning up one of the nation's largest Superfund sites.

The United States Geological Survey in a report released Monday says concentrations of cadmium, lead and zinc decreased significantly since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began the cleanup process in the 1990s.

However, the study also found that the concentration in some streams is above what's considered toxic to aquatic organisms.

Dana Orlosky / Flickr

A decades old proposal to upgrade Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve to a national park is getting new life.

The monument's superintendent, Dan Buckley, is proposing the upgrade and says he's briefed Idaho's congressional delegation. The move would ultimately require congressional approval.

Idaho is the only state in the West without a national park entirely within its borders.

gray wolf, wolves
U.S. Fish & Wildlife

Washington fish and wildlife officers are recommending a misdemeanor charge against a farmer accused of illegally shooting a wolf last month.

Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy tells the Moscow-Pullman Daily News that he'll review the investigation report and the law before making a decision about whether to file charges. The wolf was shot southwest of Pullman on Oct. 12.

Under Washington law, a wolf can only be shot if it is in the act of attacking pets or livestock.

Bookhaven National Laboratory / Flickr Creative Commons

The company that provides most of southern Idaho with its electricity is ready to incorporate solar power into its portfolio for the first time. Idaho Power's foray into solar will be relatively small.

Currently about half of Idaho Power’s electricity comes from hydroelectric dams. A little more than a third comes from coal-burning power plants in neighboring states. There’s some natural gas, and about 7 percent comes from privately-generated, renewable sources, mostly wind. None of it, though, is solar. 

weather, roads, snow, ice
Jodie Martinson / Boise State Public Radio

The Ada County Highway District (ACHD) is defending itself from criticisms over how it cleared -- or didn't clear -- the roads after last week's snow dump. A record-setting 7.6 inches of snow fell at the Boise Airport on Thursday and Friday.

Police departments tweeted warnings to drivers to mind the conditions after helping hundreds of vehicles involved in fender-benders and spins off the road.

Now, almost a week later, many major roads in Boise, Eagle, and Meridian still have snow and ice in patches and many drivers are complaining about why it's taken so long to clear.

Mia Gant / Flickr

This week's very cold weather in the Treasure Valley hasn't caused a lot of problems when it comes to frozen pipes.

That’s despite Boise setting another record low this morning of 4 degrees, breaking the old record of 7 set back in 1985. It's the third-straight morning of record cold.

United Water Idaho's Mark Snider says the company has had 10 calls from people without water.

Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr Creative Commons

Idahoans are using more water per capita than residents of any other state according to a recent report from the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS does a detailed look at water use every fifth year.

Molly Maupin led the team that calculated the nation’s water use for 2010. It took them four years to compile all the data. They looked at all the different ways people were using water, from morning showers to cooling nuclear power plants.

Jay Breidenbach / National Weather Service

Treasure Valley residents still dealing with the aftermath of last week's record-setting snowfall now have an inversion on their hands, too.

The National Weather Service in Boise says the inversion set up Sunday. Meteorologist Bill Wojcik says it's likely to last through Saturday when winds from a new system disrupt the layering of warm air over cold. He says the inversion - the first of the season - reaches 10,000 feet into the atmosphere.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Three environmental groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to halt a wolf- and coyote-hunting derby set for early January in east-central Idaho.

WildEarth Guardians, Cascadia Wildlands and the Boulder-White Clouds Council filed the lawsuit late Thursday in federal court in Idaho against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.

The groups contend the BLM violated environmental laws on Thursday by issuing Idaho for Wildlife a special use permit to hold the competitive derby on BLM land.

map, weather
National Weather Service

The first major winter storm of the season is headed for Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, bringing with it the season's first hard freeze and snowfall to the Treasure Valley.

There’s a good chance of snow on Thursday in the Boise area.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Les Colin says an arctic air mass is coming in from central Canada.

“There was a typhoon whose remnants went up into the Bering Sea,” Colin says, “and it created an intense storm there and the consequences spread into North America and then down south into Canada and into the United States.”

Wildfires scorched nearly 1.5 million acres in Oregon, Washington and Idaho this year. And with increased demand for timber from lumber mills, there is a growing market for scorched trees.

sage grouse, wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

The directors of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management say a listing of sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act can be avoided.

Dan Ashe of Fish and Wildlife and Neil Kornze of BLM made the comments Thursday in Boise as some of the nation's top federal land managers and rangeland scientists gathered at a conference to find ways to protect sage grouse habitat from massive wildfires.

In the last decade huge swaths of sage brush range the birds depend on have been destroyed by wildfires that often involve fire-prone invasive plants.

The Environmental Protection Agency is testing out a new technique for keeping heavily-used river banks from eroding into the water.

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Federal officials are going through some 38,000 comments concerning a proposed wolf- and coyote-hunting derby on public land in the east-central part of the state.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's extended comment period ended last Thursday concerning Idaho for Wildlife's request for a Jan. 2-4 competitive event near Salmon.

If the agency grants the permit it will be good for additional derbies for five years.

BLM officials are analyzing the impacts of an estimated 500 hunters on about 3 million acres of BLM land over a three-day period.

wrh.noaa.gov

After highs Monday about 15 degrees above average, temperatures in southern Idaho Tuesday should be below average. But so far, this fall has been unusually warm.

October days have averaged more than five-degrees warmer than what's typical for this time of year.  Through Monday, there were only four days this month the Treasure Valley did not reach the 70s.

Idaho officials have approved a coho salmon fishing season on the Clearwater River following efforts by the Nez Perce Tribe to bring salmon back after they disappeared about 30 years ago.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday approved the sport fishing season that starts Friday and runs through Nov. 16.

Anglers will be allowed to keep two coho salmon per day and up to 10 for the monthlong season on portions of the Mainstem and Middle Fork Clearwater River.

The old saying goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words." That was the reaction of a U.S. Forest Service researcher when he rediscovered a trove of landscape panoramas called the Osborne Panoramas.

This summer’s Carlton Complex wildfire was the largest in Washington history. Scores of firefighters battled the inferno in north Central Washington.

Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr Creative Commons

Federal land managers in Idaho project minimal environmental damage from allowing a predator hunting derby to take place in the north-eastern part of the state.

That’s the finding of an environmental assessment released Wednesday. It’s part of a controversy that started last winter when hunters competed to kill wolves and coyotes during a two-day event.

U.S. Forest Service

 A slow wildfire season in the U.S. means the Forest Service won’t have to dip into other parts of its budget to cover firefighting expenses. The federal government’s fiscal year ends Tuesday. It’s the first time in three years the agency’s firefighting allotment will cover actual costs.

The Forest Service exceeded its firefighting budget by $505 million last summer, and $440 million the year before.

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