Environment

Spring Chinook Numbers Lower Than Expected

Jun 20, 2012
endora57 / Flickr

You might remember predictions of really high spring chinook runs this year. But, turns outs, after spring salmon runs wrapped up, the numbers were not as high as everyone had hoped.

Biologists had predicted the Columbia River would see one of the stronger spring salmon runs in the past decade. But it looks like forecasts were off by a little more than one-third. Biologists say, still a decent run, just not all that exciting.

One tool they use to predict salmon runs are early returns of male salmon, known as “jacks.”

Scott Ki / Boise State Public Radio

Firefighters evacuated nearly 30 homes Monday night in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Mountain Home. High winds pushed right through the neighborhood, destroying six homes.  

Crews Tuesday were able to get this grassland fire completely out.  Now, the evacuated families are coming to grips with what happened.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Oregon State Parks managers have two new Geiger counters to scan possible tsunami debris that floats in from Japan. On the Washington coast, state health department scientists are now regularly checking marine debris and fish for possible radiation from last year's Japanese nuclear meltdown. The testing is mostly just to reassure the public, not out of grave concern that radiation will get here.

Mallory Eils / BLM

The Bureau of Land Management says a wildfire burned six homes last night in a neighborhood located on the edge of Mountain Home.  Crews will remain on the scene throughout the day.  The fire has not yet been determined fully contained.  

The fire started around 7:30 PM on the southwest side of the city.  It was spread quickly by strong winds.  No injuries were reported.

Boise District Bureau of Land Management

Updated 5:15 PM:  There have been 31 area wildfires so far this year, according to spokeswoman Mallory Eils with the Boise District Bureau of Land Management.  That compares to less than a handful at this time for the past three years. She says nearly all the wildfires this year have been caused by people.    

There are no plans to place fire restrictions on public lands yet.  That would take some time given that state and federal agencies such as the BLM, U.S. Forest Service, and Idaho Department of Lands would all have to agree to those restrictions. 

thedailyshow.com

Last April we told you about reports that link Simplot mines to deformed fish in Idaho rivers. Now that story is getting national attention, but not from major news outlets. Thursday the satirical news program The Daily Show on Comedy Central gave its take.

Boise District Bureau of Land Management

Fire crews got the upper hand on the Con Shea wildfire Friday. 

Investigators say someone caused the blaze which burned about 9,000 acres along the Snake River near Murphy.  

Brandon Hampton is with the Boise District Bureau of Land Management.  He says, "It could be a variety of things - most likely a campfire ring would indicate a human presence prior to the fire starting.  You can also find remnants of shooting, for example, shell casings, fragments of exploding targets, things like that."

Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho counties will share more than $26 million as part of the 2012 Payment in Lieu of Taxes program or PILT. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar made the announcement Thursday.

Blaine, Cassia, and Elmore counties will get the largest payments, around $2 million per county.  The payments offset losses in property taxes on nontaxable federal lands. More than 60 percent of Idaho's land is public.

Scott Graf / BSPR

Crews continue to fight the Con Shea wildfire near the town of Murphy, southwest of Boise.  It was discovered last night (Wednesday) and spread quickly.  The latest update from the Bureau of Land Management puts the fire at nearly 9,000 acres.  Two air tankers from Canada have been helping fight the fire.

The planes flew from Saskatchewan to Boise earlier this week.  A wet spring up north, coupled with a shortage of large air tankers in the US and a busy fire season here, means the planes are available for the US Forest Service to hire.    

Wildfire Near Murphy Burns Nearly 9,000 Acres

Jun 14, 2012

3:57 PM Update:  A spokeswoman for the Boise District Bureau of Land Management says they hope to contain the Con Shea wildfire near Murphy by noon Friday.

“Things for the most part are looking really good right now,” according to Mallory Eils. 

Two hundred firefighters with equipment that includes rigs, bulldozers, air tankers, and helicopters are out controlling the blaze.

10:30 AM:  The Con Shea wildfire started overnight 4 miles north of Murphy.  Since then it’s grown to nearly 10,000 acres. 

isriya / Flickr

Dozens of state Fish and Wildlife officers fanned out to seafood retailers, wholesalers and exporters late last week.

Zoo Boise

A puppy, picked up by campers in Ketchum last month, is a wild wolf.  The Idaho Department of Fish and Game confirmed that Tuesday after a DNA test came back positive. 

Out of town campers picked up what they thought was a lost puppy and took it to a vet.  The pup ended up at Zoo Boise, who has been caring for it.  He is gaining weight and his health is improving. 

Fish and Game searched for a wolf pack near where the pup was found, but couldn’t find one.  They speculate the pack was moving the puppy and may have been disturbed by traffic on the road. 

O'BrienDigital / Flickr

Two grass fires that burned south of Kuna Sunday were sparked by gunfire.  Both fires were contained by Sunday night and both burned on public land. 

Mallory Eils is a fire information officer for the Boise District Bureau of Land Management.  She says the Kave Fire and the Poen Fire were the result of gunshots.  “Someone was probably out doing some target practice and shooting something that resulted in a spark or maybe an exploding target is a common thing that people shoot at and because of the dry fuel conditions out there a wildfire resulted.” 

Bill Chadwick / Oregon State University

For the first time, we're getting to listen to the eruption of an undersea volcano off the Northwest coast. Correspondent Tom Banse got a hold of unusual recordings made at a place called Axial Seamount. It's about 300 miles out to sea from Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Researchers from Oregon State University deployed instruments on the seafloor in anticipation of an eruption at Axial Seamount last year. At first, an underwater microphone - called a hydrophone - captured the low-frequency rumblings of small earthquakes. The sped up audio sounds like a loud bump.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

There is a growing concern that hatcheries could cause our Northwest fish to lose their wild streak -- and ability to survive. A laboratory in Idaho hopes to change that.

In the southern Idaho desert, freshwater pours out of canyon walls from an underground aquifer and empties into the Snake River. The water is both fresh and a constant 60 degrees.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

As many as 80 residents of a west Boise neighborhood got sick over Memorial Day weekend. Turns out a nasty bacteria got into the drinking water. Boise’s United Water says it did everything in its power to fix the problem, but  some in the neighborhood say the company could have done more.

Idaho State University

Researchers at Idaho State University used fish to discover a possible environmental trigger for autism.  They exposed fish to commonly prescribed drugs at levels typically found in tap water.  After a while, those fish showed changes in a genetic process that mimics patterns found in some people with autism. 

Michael Thomas, Associate Professor of Biology at ISU, led the research team.  He says, "What you’re drinking is a cocktail that represents the net drug dosages of the community upstream from you."

Sea Lions Under the Gun

Jun 6, 2012

Since April, 20 sea lions have washed up dead in Oregon and Washington.  The majority of the animals were shot.

The dead sea lions have been found mainly near the mouth of the Columbia River, a hot spot for salmon.

Many believe the animals are being killed by fishermen who view them as competition for their catch.

Sean Stanley is with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement in Portland.

Japanese Dock Washes Ashore in Newport

Jun 6, 2012

The Japanese consulate has confirmed that the dock that washed ashore Tuesday at Agate Beach near Newport is debris from the March 2011 Tsunami in Japan. It was checked for radiation and results came back negative. 

The dock is 7 feet tall, 19 feet wide and 66 feet long. A plaque attached to the top has Japanese writing on it.

Chris Havel with Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation says a picture of the placard has been sent to the Japanese Consulate in Seattle for translation.

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.

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