Environment

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Monday night’s storm blew down trees and power lines, knocking out electricity around southern Idaho.  What was inconvenient for some, turned critical for Twin Falls. The city lost power to the four pumps that supply most of the area’s water and overnight, Twin Falls declared a state of emergency.

Monday afternoon, the power came back on, and the pumps are now working.  Josh Palmer is a public information officer for Twin Falls. He says those pumps pull water from the Blue Lakes Reservoir and that water is low.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

The Northwest cherry harvest is set to begin next week, but farmers are a bit glum. That’s because the National Weather Service says this month’s temperatures will be near or below average across Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Cool weather and rain can delay ripening and compress the cherry growing season. That means that markets have less time to sell the perishable fruit. Plus, farmers may have a harder time recruiting enough labor in a shortened season.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game today launched an advertising push in advance of its August wildlife summit.  Under the slogan “Idaho’s wildlife belongs to you,” the department hopes to bring together as many people as possible to help set the direction for wildlife management. The summit is the first of its kind in Idaho. Fish and Game director Virgil Moore says the discussions generated at the summit will help guide future Fish and Game Commission policy.  People at seven locations around the state will participate the last weekend in August.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The daughter of a north Idaho miner killed in a tunnel collapse last year says federal regulators are failing to hold the company responsible. She says new fines do not do justice to her father’s death. The federal government is proposing $360,000 in penalties related to an accident that killed fifty-three-year-old Larry Marek.

Storify: Severe Storms Move Across Treasure Valley

Jun 4, 2012
Debbie Kettles

Thousands of Idaho Power customers lost power as a major storm ushered in Tuesday's cold front. Wind gusts were, at times, as fast as a car on the highway. Below you'll find some of the tweets and photos as this storm moved across the Treasure Valley. 

[View the story "Severe Thunderstorm Moves Through Treasure Valley" on Storify]

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The federal government is fining a north Idaho mining company $360,000 for unsafe practices that killed a miner last year. That’s about a third of the penalties that were expected. 

Last year federal inspectors said the Hecla Mining Company engaged in “aggravated conduct” when it allowed miners to extract silver ore from a mass of unstable rock. It happened about a mile underground at the Lucky Friday Mine near Mullan, Idaho. The practices led to a tunnel collapse that killed 53-year-old Larry Marek, according to a investigation.

Severe Thunderstorms Usher In Cold Weather

Jun 4, 2012
Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

Sure it's been warm and balmy today throughout much of Idaho with highs in the 80s. But tomorrow, you'll be grabbing a jacket as you head out the door for work. 

Gold mining with small dredges is popular in the rural Northwest. Friday, the 9th circuit court ruled that the Forest Service has to strengthen its regulation of this kind of mining in salmon streams.

The Forest Service has been streamlining permitting for small scale dredge mining.  Even on rivers where endangered species like Coho salmon might be harmed.

Washington DNR

Two Boise  men died Sunday while fighting a fire in Utah. The deaths come as the Western wildfire season is picking up steam.

Authorities in Iron County, Utah say the men died when the air tanker they were flying crashed. The victims have been identified as 48-year-old Todd Tompkins and 40-year-old Ronnie Chambless, both of Boise. The fire started after a lightning strike Friday night near the Utah-Nevada state line.

Scott Ki / Boise State Public Radio

The Pacific Northwest, including most of Idaho, should have a decent whitewater season this year.   Ample snowpacks in the mountains mean good river flows through the summer.  Kayakers and rafters in Idaho north of the Snake River should benefit.

Zoo Boise

What’s thought to be a wolf puppy, picked up by campers in Ketchum, is resting in Zoo Boise’s animal hospital.  The campers who found the pup took it to a local vet who contacted Idaho Fish and Game. 

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

An endangered sloth bear at Zoo Boise is getting a new home.  Last fall, the Zoo started to renovate Paji's exhibit.  Friday it opens back up to the public where they'll likely find Paji siting in the grass, relaxing in the sunshine.  

A California American Indian tribe Tuesday asked federal regulators to order the removal of four dams on the Klamath River. The tribe says a restoration plan for the river is stalled.

The Klamath River runs through the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s reservation. The tribe says the four dams upriver contribute to toxic algae blooms and salmon diseases. Power company PacifiCorp owns the dams and has signed a deal that would remove them by 2020.

The Peregrine Fund

The kestrels have hatched!  In a story we told you last month, the Peregrine Fund is asking citizen scientists to put up nest boxes and monitor American Kestrel populations across the U.S.  The American Kestrel Partnership has a box with a webcam posted at the

In Ashland, A Crime Lab For 34,000 Species

May 29, 2012
Amelia Templeton / Earthfix

The illegal trade of wildlife is big business- worth an estimated 5 billion dollars a year, and growing. But who do you call to investigate a crime when the victim is an elephant, or a butterfly?

Turns out, there’s only one forensics team in the world that can handle crimes involving thousands of rare and endangered species. The team works at the U.S Fish and Wildlife Forensics Lab in Ashland, Oregon. The lab isn’t open to the public. But reporter Amelia Templeton got a glimpse inside.

WSU Researchers Patent Longer Battery Life Technology

May 28, 2012
WSU

Researchers at Washington State University say they've found a way to keep lithium batteries charged three times longer. These are the batteries used in laptops, cell phones and electric vehicles.

The key ingredient in the new battery design is tin, as a replacement for carbon, which is more common.

Study: Summer Thunderclouds Warm the Atmosphere

May 28, 2012
cbamber85 / Flickr

Researchers in the Northwest have found some pollution is making thunderstorms stronger and the atmosphere warmer.

Those giant, anvil-shaped thunderclouds you see looming in the distance may actually be getting bigger and stronger this summer, all because of aerosol pollutants.

Bruce Bjornstad

A new book details how a dramatic series of Ice Age Floods transformed the landscape of the inland Northwest.

The new book called, “On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods: The Northern Reaches,” details what happened when floods whooshed into the Northwest and created the channeled scablands.

Bruce Bjornstad spent five years researching and writing his geologic guidebook. One fact in the book: It might have been as many as 1,000 floods that shaped the region, not just two or three big events.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

An alleged “secret scheme” to allow more nuclear waste into Idaho is at the center of a squabble between current and past governors. 

Former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus (D) wrote in an op-ed Sunday he believes state and Idaho National Laboratory officials want to “revise” a 1995 agreement.  That agreement requires the federal government to remove all nuclear waste from INL by 2035.  Andrus said revisions would extend the deadline by fifteen years, and open Idaho’s borders to 3,000 metric tons of commercial spent nuclear fuel. 

Killer Of Grizzly Mother And Cub Sought

May 24, 2012
Kim Keating / U.S. Geological Survey

Idaho state and federal officials are searching for whoever killed a female Grizzly bear and her cub. Grizzly bears are a federally protected Endangered Species. The incident occurred north of the town of Bonners Ferry on Hall Mountain. The animals were discovered on Friday by a hiker.

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