Environment

Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

Wood River Valley residents continued to battle floodwaters over the weekend. Officials distributed sandbags as worried residents moved to fortify their homes throughout Blaine County. 

The Big Wood River continued to rush along at flood-level stages. The river hit a peak level on Friday night, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began reinforcing the Broadford levee in Bellevue. On Saturday, Governor Butch Otter arrived in Hailey to meet with local officials.

Each day, librarian Randy Kemp has seen Warm Springs Creek rise and rise by his Ketchum home.

Boise River, Flooding
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Boise River levels will be on the rise again next week. Officials  with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation hope that by increasing it from 8,900 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 9,500 now, they can reduce the risk of more severe flooding later this spring.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

For the first time since 2011, the Pacific Northwest isn't showing any signs of drought.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows that Oregon, Washington and Idaho are free from drought worries.

Kathie Dello, deputy director of Oregon's climate office, says the Northwest saw lots of precipitation during the water year that began in October.

She says snow and rain came earlier and stayed later. Typically drier months such as October, February, March and April were wetter than usual across the region.

The Peregrine Fund/Bosch WebCam

The Peregrine Fund announced this week that four American Kestrel eggs have hatched in the well-watched nest in Boise. It is the sixth year the birds have raised a family live on a webcam.

The female laid the first egg on March 27 and four other eggs slowly followed. Usually eggs are laid every other day but the Peregrine Fund says a storm slowed the process down this year. After some fits and starts, four of the five eggs hatched over the weekend.

Idaho Fish and Game

After an emergency declaration was issued for Blaine County Monday by Lt. Gov. Brad Little, the Army Corps of Engineers say they're sending a small group to the region to help with flooding.

The Corps is sending a three person crew to assess flood risks to public infrastructure and help Blaine County emergency management staff. Members of the Army Corps team are experts in both hydraulic and civil engineering. Another task the group will assist with is coming up with contingency plans should a worst case scenario unfold.

Cathleen Allison / AP Photo

A new study of sage grouse in Eastern Washington found a surprisingly large benefit from a federal program that subsidizes farmers to plant year-round grasses and native shrubs instead of crops.

The study concluded that is probably the reason that sage grouse still live in portions of Washington's Columbia River Basin.

"Without these lands, our models predict that we would lose about two thirds of the species' habitat, and that the sage grouse would go extinct in two of three sub-populations," said Andrew Shirk of the University of Washington's Climate Impacts Group.

U.S. Department of Energy via AP

A portion of an underground tunnel containing rail cars full of radioactive waste collapsed Tuesday at a sprawling storage facility in a remote area of Washington state, forcing an evacuation of some workers at the site that made plutonium for nuclear weapons for decades after World War II.

Officials detected no release of radiation at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and no workers were injured, said Randy Bradbury, a spokesman for the Washington state Department of Ecology.

Dave Thomas / Flickr

The warm temperatures late last week are being blamed for rising flood waters in parts of Blaine and Elmore Counties.

NIFC

The National Interagency Fire Center issued its Fire Potential Outlook this week. With the harsh winter depositing plenty of snow in the mountains, the risk of fire for the next few months in the upper elevations should be reduced.

Across Idaho, NIFC is predicting a slow start to the fire season – especially in the mountains, according to Bryan Henry. The manager at NIFC’s Predictive Serives says reserves of mountain snow from the winter are melting slowly.

Miguel Vieira / Flickr Creative Commons

Around 6,000 acres of dead trees in the Sawtooth Valley and Stanley Basin will be thinned to prevent wildfires. The move is part of a plan introduced last week at a meeting of the Sawtooth Valley Wildland Fire Collaborative.

The Collaborative was founded five years ago in the wake of the devastating Halstead Fire that scorched 179,000 acres. One of the key partners is the nonprofit Sawtooth Society, whose mission is to protect more than half a million acres of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

Julie Falk / Flickr Creative Commons

It’s been a frustrating spring for southwest Idaho farmers. Abnormal weather has been causing problems and delaying planting for many of those who grow sugar beets, onions and other crops.

Canyon County Extension agent Jerry Neufeld says the constant spring rain has really slowed the process down. Farmers who normally have all their spring planting done by now are seeing their workload start to backup.

Nicholas D. / Flickr

Zoo Boise is giving a quarter of a million dollars to the city to help protect the foothills. It's all part of the zoo’s conservation mission.

Zoo Boise raises conservation funds to help wildlife in need all around the world. So Director Steve Burns says giving some of that money to preserve the Boise Foothills makes perfect sense.

“This is our backyard,” says Burns.

Burns says people love the foothills, but it’s also a home for a wide variety of wildlife.

Boise Police Department / Twitter

Much of the Greenbelt is closed and underwater, due to flooding on the Boise River. But eventually, the water will recede, leaving much of the 25 miles of pathway damaged or destroyed. But Boise has a plan once the river slows down.

In many places, the Greenbelt has been totally washed out by the river, which is well above flood stage. And City of Boise Spokesman Mike Journee says there’s more damage below the surface of the path.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Boise officials have expressed concerns with federal maps that propose adding hundreds of acres to a flood plain in the city, which could increase the cost and difficulty of buying or developing nearby property.

The city disagrees with the Federal Emergency Management Agency over maps predicting the contours of a 100-year flood between Lucky Peak Dam and the Snake River. A 100-year flood is an event FEMA predicts has a 1 percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in a single year, The Idaho Statesman reported.

Tim Bartholomaus / University of Idaho

An Idaho scientist is part of a team looking at Greenland’s ice sheet. It’s the Earth’s second-largest ice sheet and it’s melting, contributing to a rise in sea levels around the globe. The team’s goal was to figure out which glaciers to watch to predict how the sea level will respond in the future.

When University of Idaho geography professor Tim Bartholomaus started studying glaciers in Greenland for NASA, he thought they would be boring.

“That they’d all be the same, they just sit there, maybe they move a little bit, they melt, how interesting could this be?” he asked.

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