Environment

A Water Plan For Fish, Families And Farmers

May 17, 2012
Courtney Flatt

Boise gets a visit tonight from a man who’s helped negotiate an ambitious plan to restore the Yakima River Basin in central Washington.  Michael Garrity will speak at an event that starts at 5:45 at Bardenay.  Courtney Flatt reports on the plan that’s finding a way to restore the basin, while making sure fish, farmers and communities have enough water.  

Turn on your faucet, and you’re pretty much guaranteed water will pour out. But managing the water that’s running down our mountainsides and into our streams is not that simple, especially in Washington’s Yakima Valley.

Aaron Kunz

A study released Monday by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences indicates that some mammals might be unable to keep up with environmental changes.

The study looked at nearly 500 species in North and South America. It determined that close to 10 percent will not be able change habitat in order to keep pace with climate change.

Governor John Kitzhaber

Gov. John Kitzhaber said Thursday that power customers could play a bigger role in the state's clean energy future. He spoke at the Northwest Smart Grid Summit in Portland.

The governor says a smarter power grid can help Oregon reach his 10-year goals for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Spring Weather Makes For Tricky River Management

May 9, 2012
Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

Warmer temperatures this week have kept river levels high in Idaho as mountain snow melts. It’s been a challenging year for those who manage the state’s river systems. That’s because the spring runoff happened a month earlier than last year. It's brought flooding along the Boise River and raises questions about water availability next year. Just ask Ron Abramovich. He's a hydrologist and water supply specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Boise. 

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Just in time for another anniversary of the catastrophic Mount St. Helens eruption, the U.S. Forest Service is reopening an architecturally-striking visitor center. The Coldwater Ridge facility has been closed for the last four seasons.  The center reopens next week with a new mission and purpose.

Northwest Universities Get Nuclear Grants

May 9, 2012
Courtesy of Donald Wall

The nuclear industry faces a generation gap. A lot of the people who run nuclear power plants are nearing retirement. Now the Obama Administration has awarded $6.3 million to Northwest universities to help train the next generation of nuclear leaders.

Donald Wall directs Washington State University’s Nuclear Radiation Center in Pullman. The reactor is surrounded by the university’s golf course.

“I like to joke that WSU features probably the only golf course in the world that has a nuclear hazard.”

Rhodes International

The owners of a Caldwell frozen bread and cinnamon roll plant will pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency more than $84,000 for hazardous chemical violations.  

The EPA announced Monday that Rhodes International stored large amounts of anhydrous ammonia at its Caldwell facility without proper reporting to public safety officials.  The chemical is a toxic gas that can cause serious injury or death. 

The average Idaho Power customer will pay at least $5.50 more a month starting this summer.   The state public utilities commission will likely go along with the company’s requests.    

Tim Merrick / US Geological Survey

 

The Boise River is under a flood warning for the next several days.   Dave Groenert  is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boise. He says that warning will remain at least for the next seven days as temperatures rise. “They (temperatures ) look to peak at the middle of next week Wednesday,” explains Groenert. “And then after that cool back to normal.”

New wind generation station in Eastern Washington

May 2, 2012
Dan_H / Flickr

You may be familiar with the sight of wind turbine generators in the Columbia Gorge, but soon, dozens of the tall structures will be built some 40 miles south of Spokane.

Washington DNR

National experts predict parts of the West, including southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon, are at a higher than normal risk for wildfires this season.

A map of the Western U.S. shows three tendrils of red. One looks like a statue from Easter Island whose foot and tail cover Southern California.  Its thin body extends across Nevada while its misshapen head reaches into the southern border of Oregon and Idaho. 

Washington DNR

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise has released its annual prediction for the summer wildfire season.  Parts of ten Western states – including Idaho - are at higher than usual risk of wildfires.  

Anna King / Northwest News Network

In the remote valleys of southeast Oregon both birds and cattle flourish. This is where mountain streams feed an oasis of lakes and marshes in the high desert. Cattle ranchers and wildlife advocates have been fighting over that valuable grassland for decades. Now, they’ve struck a delicate truce that keeps both birds and burgers in mind.

Washington DNR

Some hard-to-read global weather patterns are making this year’s fire season difficult to forecast. That’s according to experts at federal agencies that track wildfires. But as best they can tell, the Northwest is in for a milder season than other fire-prone parts of the country.

The leaders of the nation’s forest, land and emergency management agencies told reporters on a conference call Thursday they’ve started positioning engines, air tankers and helicopters at strategic locations.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

People all over the country plant trees Friday for Arbor Day. And for the past 18 years the Idaho Forest Products Commission has been giving out free saplings. It’s given away more than 350 thousand trees in that time. But the commission has no idea how many of those trees have been planted. Now the commission is trying to find out what’s become of its free trees.

Judge Redden Talks Salmon Case

Apr 25, 2012
Aaron Kunz / Earthfix

A federal judge who has ruled for more than a decade on how to save Columbia and Snake River salmon says four dams on the Lower Snake River should be torn down.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Three high school students from Boise did something an Idahoan hasn’t done in about thirty years.  They won what’s called the U.S. Presidential Environmental Youth Award.  Their successful project helped restore a part of the Boise River. 

Timberline High School juniors Carl Breidenbach, William D’Onofrio, and Nathan Wong teamed up on the restoration project in Southeast Boise.  Inspiration came from a popular summer activity.  "When we were floating the river with Nathan, we noticed that people were just trampling the beach. The vegetation had been decimated," says Breidenbach.

CRITFC / Northwest News Network

A coalition of tribal groups says sea lions are eating far more salmon along the Columbia River than previously thought. The claim comes in a legal fight over whether wildlife officials should be killing some of the hungry sea lions.

A federal judge has authorized wildlife officials in Oregon and Washington to kill as many as 30 California sea lions each year near the Bonneville Dam. Four have been killed so far this spring. A conservation group has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the killings.

American Kestrel Partnership / The Peregrine Fund

It’s nesting time for many birds in Idaho, including the American Kestrel.  In fact, you can watch a pair of kestrels sitting on their eggs right now, through a live webcam.  It’s part of a new project by the Peregrine Fund that launches today to get people involved in helping gather information n kestrels.  The goal is to help scientists understand why the American Kestrel is in steady decline across North America.

Columbia Generating Station Southeast Washington
NRC.gov

The utility Energy Northwest is launching a new TV ad campaign to improve the image of nuclear power. But  the ads touting nuclear energy as green might be a tough sell.

Energy Northwest operates the only commercial nuclear power plant in the region. It’s called the Columbia Generating Station in Richland.  The company’s new ad ends this way: "Nuclear energy. Reliable. Affordable. Environmentally responsible."

Pages