Environment

Kxlly Kxsh / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Power is one step closer to replacing an aging transmission line that runs from Hagerman to Hailey. Blaine County approved a permit for the project last week. Now, the Bureau of Land Management will review it – and will pay special attention to the greater sage grouse in the area.

Screenshot MTB Project / BLM/MTB Project/International Mountain Bike Association

The Bureau of Land Management wants to get more people riding mountain bikes on 20 trail systems around the West. The agency has a new set of bike maps to show off those trails, including two in Idaho.

Justin Barrett

Last week, the federal government decided not to place three species found in Idaho on the Endangered Species List. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said they did not warrant listing because of successes made in conservation.

Along with the southern Idaho ground squirrel, the Goose Creek milkvetch and the Great Basin population of the Columbia Spotted Frog, 14 other species around the country were also turned down for listing.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The smoke blanketing Boise from the Walker Fire near Idaho City eased up Wednesday but was still bad enough for the Boise School District to cancel outdoor activities like football games and tennis matches.

Someone flying into Boise Tuesday shared the pictures above with KBSX. Much of the valley floor is invisible under a gray/brown haze. 

Boise's Table Rock was a dim outline at about 9:00 Tuesday morning. It was a little clearer around the same time Wednesday morning from outside our studios.

Daniel Gonzalez

Boise residents know there are a lot of birds that live or pass through the city. Now the city's Parks and Recreation department has published a field guide that highlights species commonly found around town.

Idaho Department of Lands

A wildfire burning 40 miles northeast of Boise is moving away from structures, but continues to pour smoke into the Treasure Valley.

The 2,500-acre Walker Fire started Saturday on private property near Grimes Creek and Mack Creek. The fire is suspected to be human caused.

Burning eight miles southwest of Idaho City in Boise County, the fire has destroyed four structures, including three cabins.

The Idaho Department of Lands says some areas are still under evacuation:

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The U.S. Forest Service this week gave American CuMo Mining Corporation the go-ahead to explore for molybdenum, copper and silver between Idaho City and Garden Valley. If CuMo finds enough of the metals, it will seek permission to build a large open pit mine.

Environmental groups have been challenging the project for years. They say the exploration process alone endangers the headwaters of the Boise River, let alone the proposed mine.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Dozens of people in boats, kayaks, and canoes will join a flotilla Saturday on the Snake River to protest four dams that advocates say are killing fish and costing taxpayers money.

Greg Stahl is with Idaho Rivers United, one of the groups putting on the flotilla. He says most people don’t know much about the four dams on the river between Lewiston, Idaho and Pasco, Washington, in part because of their remote location.

screen grab fws.gov / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wednesday released a new recovery plan for the bull trout. The agency listed it as a threatened species in the late 1990s. Bull trout live in Idaho and four other western states. The new plan divides the fish’s territory into six sections. Mike Carrier, head of Fish and Wildlife’s Idaho office says in some sections, like in Oregon and Washington, bull trout are struggling.

sage grouse, in flight, birds
Bryant Olsen / Flickr Creative Commons

Congress has failed to advance a measure that would have blocked new land-use plans meant to protect a wide-ranging Western bird, the greater sage grouse.

The sage grouse provision backed by Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah had been approved in May by the House as part of a $612 billion defense policy bill.

Bishop's office said Wednesday the measure was left out of a House-Senate compromise on the defense bill.

roger wilkins / Flickr Creative Commons

Originally published on September 3, 2014.

If you’ve noticed an increase in the number of flies buzzing around you’re not imagining things. In fact, you could call this time of year “fly season” in southern Idaho.

Part of the reason you're noticing more flies is because there simply are more of them says Ian Robertson, a biology professor and insect ecologist at Boise State University.

Elizabeth Haslam / Flickr

Sunday night will offer a chance to see the last total lunar eclipse until 2018.

This eclipse is special, says Brian Jackson, an astronomer who teaches at Boise State. That’s because it will also be what’s known as a “Blood Moon.”

Rob Palmer Photography

Scientists studying the American Kestrel are asking for the public’s help to pay for new research into the bird’s decline. The hope is that people who admire America’s smallest falcon will try to save it.

Dan Dzurisin / Flickr Creative Commons

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced the much-anticipated decision on Twitter Tuesday morning, using the hashtag #WildlifeWin.

“Because of an unprecedented effort by dozens of partners  across 11 western states," says Sec. Jewell in a video, "the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the greater sage grouse does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act.”

Alan Krakauer / Flickr Creative Commons

Early Tuesday morning Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced on Twitter the decision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not to list the greater sage grouse as endangered. This follows years of hard work, cooperation and collaborative planning among stakeholders in what is being touted as the largest conservation effort in U.S. history. 

Stakeholders are already reacting to the decision. Below are comments from some of those individuals and groups.

sage grouse, wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Interior Department says the greater sage grouse does not need federal protections across its 11-state Western range after some limits were put on energy development and other activities.

Tuesday's announcement signals that the Obama administration believes it has struck a balance to save the widespread, ground-dwelling birds from extinction without crippling the West's economy.

Lacey Daley / Boise State Public Radio

On September 16, 2015 KBSX hosted four panelists and a room full of community members for a discussion on the possible Endangered Species Listing of the greater sage grouse. Experts shared their favorite facts about the bird, reasons for the population decline in the last century and the methods and strategies behind the collaborative efforts of state groups and agencies to protect the species. 

James Marvin Phelps / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials say a 150-square-mile area in southwestern Idaho will serve as a public lands sanctuary for non-reproducing wild horses from around the West that have nowhere else to go.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Monday announced the release of its approved Resource Management Plan for the Jarbidge Field Office.

Julie Rose

Alarm bells echoed across the West in 2010 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service warned that the greater sage grouse could be put on the Endangered Species List. The end of this month is the deadline for a final decision. In the interim, there has been an enormous amount of work done to protect the bird – enough to suggest a threat is sometimes big enough to get the job done.

Could this have been the intent all along? To make the threat big enough so that an actual listing might be avoided?

Grace Hood

The federal government will decide whether or not to list the greater sage grouse on the Endangered Species List later this month. Another sage grouse species, the Gunnison sage grouse, has been on that list since last November. The government followed a distinct and separate process for the Gunnison grouse, classifying it as “threatened”.

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