Environment

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A good year of snow and cold weather in the mountains has given water managers throughout the state some much-needed good news. Right now, the threat of drought seems distant. 

 

Lauren Parker and John Abatzoglou / University of Idaho

You can’t grow oranges in Idaho because the winters are too cold. To get slightly more technical it’s the wrong cold-hardiness zone for citrus. Scientists have known for some time that those zones will shift with climate change. Now a new study from University of Idaho researchers predicts bigger shifts than previously thought and that could mean big changes in what crops are grown in which parts of the country.

Bureau of Land Management

The Gateway West Power Line is one step closer to becoming a reality. Friday the Bureau of Land Management released a research document called a draft supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, for the last two segments of the transmission line.

Boise River
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The morning of February 4, 2015, Boiseans woke up to a river with almost no water in it. After making some calls, KBSX reporter Frankie Barnhill learned the Barber Dam was to blame. An overnight power outage tripped the 100-year-old hydroplant offline, causing the river to back up behind it for hours. Barnhill contacted the company that leases the Barber Dam from Ada County, asking for an explanation of what happened – and what was being done to fix it. Enel Green Power is an international firm with energy holdings in a number of American cities.

Courtesy of Ann Kennedy / USDA

Public lands managers have released an outline for creating a decades-long strategy to combat wildfire-prone invasive weeds considered a main threat to Great Basin sagebrush ecosystems.

The report released Monday by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies says piecemeal efforts must be replaced by landscape-wide strategies stretching across Western states.

Officials say without it there will be declines in sage grouse and other species possibly leading to regulatory actions limiting economic growth.

Tom Royal / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho officials have released a 10-year draft management plan aimed at reducing the American white pelican population in the state by about half to protect native trout and sport fishing.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game released the 46-page plan Friday and is taking comments through April 2.

Officials say the white pelican population in Idaho in the last 25 years grew from a few hundred to a five-year average of more than 5,600 breeding pelicans. The draft plan calls for reducing that to 2,800.

Charles Peterson / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal wildlife officials plan to take the grizzly bear off the Endangered Species List in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. If the proposal goes through, Idaho will take over management of the bear within the state’s borders. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe says the decision to take the iconic predator off the list comes after decades of collaboration. 

Zoo Boise

Zoo Boise says that one of its two tigers was euthanized this week. Tundra was 18 years old and had been in ill health.

Tundra and his brother Taiga came to Zoo Boise in 1999 from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

The head of Zoo Boise says all of its staff members are sad about Tundra’s passing.

“An entire generation of children in the Treasure Valley grew up seeing him and marveling at his beauty and majesty,” said Steve Burns, Director of Zoo Boise. “He was part of our family and we will miss him.”

Brad Smith / Flickr

Honeybees are dying off at an alarming rate. For several years, scientists have been looking at a number of factors that may be influencing their survival. Now, a University of Idaho scientist has found a working model that may explain why honeybee colonies collapse.

UI professor Brian Dennis built a mathematical model that shows the size of the beehive may be the critical factor in colony collapse disorder. That’s when too many bees in a hive die or disappear and the hive falls apart.

USDA NRCS

Water supply specialist Ron Abramovich has learned never to assume how Idaho’s water forecast will turn out. He works for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and says that variability played out this year with El Nino, especially in the northern part of the state. 

“But lucky for us, the jetstream was split," says Ambramovich. "So we still had moisture coming through the Pacific Northwest into Idaho, and then the desert Southwest also got it, so it really helped Idaho’s snowpack tremendously this winter.” 

Drew Morris

A group that’s critical of a bill making its way through the Idaho legislature rallied on the steps of the Idaho statehouse Monday. Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability organized the gathering in response to a Senate committee vote in favor of a bill to speed up oil and gas production. The bill would shorten the time for appeals to new energy applications.

Idaho Transportation Department

The people who live in Elk City are still trapped in their tiny Idaho County town, after a massive mud and tree slide wiped out the only road, Idaho Highway 14. Since Thursday, only mail and medicine has made it into town, via snowmobile. But the Idaho Transportation Department says help is coming.

The slide took out both sides of the highway and ITD hasn’t said how long it will take to clear the mountain of mud and debris ten miles west of Elk City. So Tuesday they plan to open an old Forest Service road to get people and supplies in and out.

L.J. Krumenacker

New research shows that horse-sized, T-Rex-like dinosaurs roamed southern Idaho 100 million years ago. This discovery shows Idaho was home to more types of dinosaurs than previously thought.

Paleontologist L.J. Krumenacker has been digging up dinosaurs in Idaho for more than a decade. But in the past, scientists have mostly found small burrowing dinosaurs.

Working with a team of Montana State University paleontologists, Krumenacker found the teeth and small bones of three types of theropods, the family of animals that includes Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Dan Dzurisin / Flickr Creative Commons

Seven places identified as possible long-term replacement sites for the Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey are smack-dab in the middle of sage grouse country. Loud airport noise, roads, buildings and towers are all things that could disturb the bird, which is famously particular about its habitat.

Provided by Lex Shapiro

Last week, the Idaho House passed a bill that would prohibit cities from banning the use of plastic grocery bags. If it becomes law, the bill would prevent the formation of local movements — like one Lex Shapiro was a part of in Hailey five years ago — to make the bags illegal.

The 21-year-old college student grew up in the Wood River Valley, where she learned a deep appreciation for the outdoors. 

Jim Peaco | Yellowstone National Park / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal wildlife services and Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials have joined forces to kill wolves in the Clearwater Region for the third year in a row.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that elk herds have been struggling in the remote country for nearly two decades.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A newly published study looks closely at one of the most beloved rivers in Idaho. The Big Wood River runs through the heart of Blaine County. The waterway is used for recreation and it helps fuel the county’s agricultural producers.

Jeffrey Johnson

There’s a volcano in Guatemala that erupts on a regular basis, so regular that some scientists call it the “Old Faithful” of volcanoes. That makes it very popular with people who study volcanoes, like Boise State Professor Jeffrey Johnson.

Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, Johnson recently led 60 researchers from Mexico, France, Italy and the United Kingdom to conduct different studies on the volcano. He returned last month and says the work being done in Guatemala could someday help scientists better predict how other volcanoes will behave.

Amelia Templeton / OPB

Oregon conservation groups say volunteers are lining up to help reverse damage done to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during the ongoing occupation.  

At the end of January, the Oregon Natural Desert Association put out a call for volunteers interested in doing environmental restoration at the refuge after the occupation is over. In just a week, more than 600 people from all over the Northwest have signed up.  

Ard van der Leeuw / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is feeding elk in four areas of south-central Idaho in hopes of keeping them off roadways and away from hay stacks and cattle operations.

The Times-News reports that residents in the Wood River Valley are asked not to feed elk or stop them from moving on to the Fish and Game feeding areas.

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