Environment

Land
9:59 am
Mon December 2, 2013

North Idaho Officials Oppose Wilderness Plan

The Kootenai National Forest.
Credit U.S. Forest Service, Northern Region / Flickr Creative Commons

Bonner County commissioners in northern Idaho are urging the U.S. Forest Service not to designate any more lands as potential federally protected wilderness in the Kootenai and Panhandle national forests.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports in a story on Sunday that commissioners say there are other ways for pristine areas to be preserved.

Commissioner Mike Nielsen says Scotchman Peak needs to be protected but that wilderness protection would isolate adjacent areas where trails are groomed for snowmobile riders.

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Science
1:21 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

What Idaho’s Sky Would Look Like If Earth Had Saturn's Rings

Noted science and science fiction artist Ron Miller did several works imagining Earth with Saturn-like rings which went viral a few years ago. At 38 degrees latitude Washington DC would see a bit more of the rings than Boise would at 43 degrees.
Credit Ron Miller

Look south and imagine the bottom-tenth of the sky blocked by a striped arch like a colossal wall on the horizon. That’s what it would look like from Idaho if Earth had rings like the planet Saturn.

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Science
11:34 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Comet ISON Expected To Light Up Idaho's Skies

Comet ISON passed through Virgo earlier this month
Credit Aaron Kingery / NASA

If you wake up early and the skies are clear this week, a comet named ISON should be visible through binoculars over the southeastern horizon.

Astronomy websites have hyped the passage of this comet as the best in more than a decade. But a lot depends on a close encounter with the sun next week.

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Wildlife
9:15 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Some Idaho Elk Hunters Want More Wolves Killed

Credit Blocke / Flickr Creative Commons

About a third of Idaho hunters making written comments on the Idaho Fish and Game Commission's draft elk management plan say they want more wolves killed to increase the elk population.

The Times-News reports that the commission on Thursday at its quarterly meeting received the first report on the 442 comments.

About 150 of hunters making comments say they want increased measures to control wolf populations.

Only 19 people making comments wanted no wolf control measures.

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Gateway West
2:02 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Why The Feds Approval Of A Massive Power Line Excludes Part Of Idaho Route

Jim Fincher is the District Manager for the Boise BLM District Office
Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The Bureau of Land Management Tuesday approved most of a 990-mile-long power line that's being built on public land. But a section of the line, about 295 miles in Idaho, were deferred. That means the BLM will hold off on the OK for that area until stakeholders along the line’s route can come to a consensus.

The Gateway West project will run from Wyoming across southern Idaho. It's an effort between Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power.

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Gateway West
5:12 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Feds Green Light Route For 1,000 Mile Gateway West Transmission Line

Credit Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management signed off Tuesday on the route for a 990 mile long power line. But it's left two sections of the Gateway West Project, which will stretch from Wyoming across Southern Idaho, undecided.

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Insects
9:40 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Spread Of Invasive Stink Bugs Alarms Farmers, Scientists

Invasive stink bug on an olive branch in the Willamette Valley.
Credit Vaughn Walton / Oregon State University

A malodorous invasive bug has gone from a worry to a certifiable nuisance for some Northwest farmers and gardeners. The name of this insect is a mouthful: the brown marmorated stink bug.

Researchers say the population really seems to have taken off this year. With the approach of winter, these stink bugs are leaving the fields and may just crawl into your home.

"A little bit like sweaty socks"

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Research
12:55 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

BSU Researchers Find Road Noise Keeps Birds Away From Boise’s Foothills

Migratory songbirds, like this red-naped sapsucker, were caught and studied along the Phantom Road in the Boise Foothills.
Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Last December, we told you about Idaho researchers studying the impact of road noise on animals in Boise’s Foothills. Project Director Jesse Barber, Associate Professor at Boise State University, built a “phantom road” in the forest. Now, study results are in.

Researchers found that road noise did have an effect on birds. 

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Weather
11:10 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Watch: This Is What Winter's Arrival Looks Like At Idaho's Redfish Lake

Credit Redfish Lake Camera Screengrab

The National Weather Service office in Boise grabbed a slick time-lapse video of Redfish Lake, Idaho over the weekend. The three-day lapse captured by the Sawtooth Interpretive and Historical Association web-cam shows fog dancing across the lake and a glimpse of winter.

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Wildlife
6:00 am
Mon November 4, 2013

How A Southern Idaho Ground Squirrel Study Could Help Protect The Environment

The squirrels play a big part in the environment. They’re food for all types of predators, from hawks to snakes to badgers. They help regulate the soil as they dig their burrows. And they act as a warning system for the rest of the environment.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Southern Idaho ground squirrels are found only in the Gem State and are a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. In May, we told you about a project to give some of these squirrels a new home near Horseshoe Bend to study ways to boost their numbers. Now, scientists know a bit more about this squirrel.

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Wildlife
10:08 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Idaho Releases Plan To Keep Sage Grouse Off The Endangered Species List

The greater sage grouse weights between 2 and 5 pounds and has an average lifespan of 1.5 years. They live at high elevations and can't survive without sagebrush.
Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

After a two year wait, Idaho has released its proposed plan to manage the greater sage grouse. The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service have been working on the plan with help from Idaho’s Fish and Game Department and the governor’s office.

If the plan is approved the sage grouse will stay off the endangered species list. Jessica Gardetto with the BLM says if the bird is listed land use becomes complicated.

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Wildlife
9:46 am
Fri November 1, 2013

U.S. Senate Deems Saturday As "National Bison Day"

Large herds of bison roam freely in Yellowstone National Park.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Saturday has been designated "National Bison Day" under a U.S. Senate resolution sponsored by western lawmakers.

The measure is intended to promote the cultural and economic contributions of bison in the United States. It was introduced by Wyoming Republican Sen. Michael Enzi and passed by unanimous consent.

Bison advocates in Congress also this week introduced a broader proposal to elevate the Plains bison to a status similar to that of the iconic bald eagle. A similar measure stalled last Congress.

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Water
11:27 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Idaho Farmers Will Squeak By If Average Snow Falls This Winter

Multi use farm near the Snake River in eastern Idaho
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Much of Idaho has been in a severe drought and  scientists have now calculated how much rain and snow some Idaho water users will need in order to get by next summer.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has looked at surface water needs for the Snake River Basin.

Water supply specialist Ron Abramovich says if the state’s agricultural heartland from Idaho Falls to Twin Falls gets average precipitation, "They should be able to just squeak by with an adequate irrigation supply next year.”

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Agriculture
9:41 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Southern Idaho Town Hopes To Fix Smelly Whey Pond

Residents of the small southern Idaho town of Hollister are hopeful that a new filtration system planned for a local Greek yogurt plant will solve what they say is a smelly problem.

The Times-News reports Chobani is installing a reverse-osmosis filtration system to reduce the volume of acid whey leaving the company's Twin Falls plant. The acid whey is typically hauled to a farm near Hollister and spread on the land as a soil amendment. The whey is also used as feed for livestock.

Weather
4:44 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Not Your Imagination: Fall Colors Have Been Especially Good This Year

The shadow of the St. Johns bridge is cast across North Portland.
Tess Freeman Oregon Public Broadcasting

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 5:22 pm

It's not your imagination: Fall colors have been spectacular in the Northwest this year. But if you want to catch a glimpse, you'd better hurry.

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Environment
5:27 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Putting The Spa in Spawn: Tribe Creates Refuge For Exhausted Fish

Joe Blodgett (right), with the Yakama Nation's steelhead rehabilitation center, lifts a fish out a tub where they're fed highly nutritious pellets.
Anna King Northwest News Network

The Yakama Nation’s steelhead reconditioning program is like a retreat spa for fish. And it's changing the circle of life for the species.

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Environment
9:45 am
Wed October 23, 2013

15 Years Of Wrangling Over Yellowstone Snowmobiles Ends

A bison crosses a road ahead of a herd of snowmobilers in Yellowstone National Park in 2003. New federal rules announced Tuesday will further restrict the noise and exhaust such vehicles are allowed to emit inside the park.
Craig Moore AP

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 7:08 pm

The U.S. government Tuesday announced new rules for snowmobiles in Yellowstone that should make the country's oldest national park cleaner and quieter.

The rules were 15 years in the making because of intense wrangling between snowmobile operators and environmentalists. But both groups support the plan and give credit to snowmobile makers for designing cleaner machines.

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Environment
3:03 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Park Service Releases Yellowstone Winter Use Plan

Sledders ride through Yellowstone National Park.
Credit Haglundc / Flickr Creative Commons

The National Park Service has released a new policy that will regulate winter access to Yellowstone National Park by people riding on snowmobiles and snow coaches.

The policy released Tuesday takes effect starting in the winter of 2014-2015. The new policy gets away from the current one of strict limits on daily numbers of snowmobiles in Yellowstone.

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Environment
8:59 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Interactive Boise River Web-Cam Losing Funding, Could Go Dark

Screen shot of the web-cam controls.
Credit id.water.usgs.gov

I spent 15 minutes entranced watching the Boise River sparkle and the fall leaves rustle on the computer screen in my windowless studio.  U.S. Geological Survey hydraulic engineer Molly Wood talked about the features of the USGS Boise River web camera while I played with the controls. I zoomed in on trees upstream and flipped it around to see the cars on the Glenwood Bridge.

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Wildlife
11:21 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Grizzly Bear In Eastern Idaho Captured And Relocated

Credit Bryant Olsen / Flickr Creative Commons

A grizzly bear frequenting an eastern Idaho apple orchard has been captured and relocated by state wildlife managers.

Homeowner Ronald Benchley tells The Standard Journal he called Idaho Fish and Game after a surveillance camera photographed the bear at night in the orchard near his home northeast of Ashton.

Idaho Fish and Game workers set up a culvert trap Sunday and returned Monday to find the 300-pound female grizzly bear inside.

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