Environment

This summer’s Carlton Complex wildfire was the largest in Washington history. Scores of firefighters battled the inferno in north Central Washington.

Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr Creative Commons

Federal land managers in Idaho project minimal environmental damage from allowing a predator hunting derby to take place in the north-eastern part of the state.

That’s the finding of an environmental assessment released Wednesday. It’s part of a controversy that started last winter when hunters competed to kill wolves and coyotes during a two-day event.

U.S. Forest Service

 A slow wildfire season in the U.S. means the Forest Service won’t have to dip into other parts of its budget to cover firefighting expenses. The federal government’s fiscal year ends Tuesday. It’s the first time in three years the agency’s firefighting allotment will cover actual costs.

The Forest Service exceeded its firefighting budget by $505 million last summer, and $440 million the year before.

A federal judge has denied requests from the state of Wyoming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, and pro-hunting groups to change a decision last week that reinstates federal protections for wolves in the state.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday denied requests to change her ruling.

Wyoming had requested fast action on its reconsideration request because the state had planned to allow hunters to begin killing wolves Wednesday in an area bordering Yellowstone National Park. The judge's ruling bars any hunting.

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

A group that overcame a court challenge last winter to hold a wolf- and coyote-shooting derby is seeking a permit from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to roughly double the area for a second event this winter.

Steve Alder of Idaho for Wildlife says the tentative dates for the derby in the east-central part of the state are Jan. 2-3.

The BLM plans to make public an environmental analysis Thursday and take public comments for 15 days. The agency says about 1,500 square miles are involved.

Environmental groups say they will contest the permit.

solar panel, energy
Flickr Creative Commons

An alternative energy company has applied for a 50-year state lease to build a $2 million, 50-acre solar project in central Idaho.

Ketchum-based Sagebrush Solar wants to install about 3,600 solar panels on six acres in Ohio Gulch north of Hailey.

The company says the project would produce about 1.1 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 160 homes.

Sagebrush Solar owner Billy Mann tells the Idaho Mountain Express that the company has completed 60 smaller solar projects in the Wood River Valley.

gray wolf, wolves
U.S. Fish & Wildlife

A federal judge has relisted gray wolves in Wyoming. USA Today reports Judge Amy Berman Jackson decided Tuesday wolves in Wyoming should go back on the Endangered Species List.

This isn't the first time Wyoming has had trouble with its wolf plan.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Three northern Idaho counties are creating strategies for containing an oil spill as more oil is moving through the inland Northwest on trains.

Trains carry crude oil from North Dakota across the Idaho Panhandle at least twice a day. They run along lakes and rivers, and sometimes cross right over the water.

That’s made local emergency response managers in Boundary, Bonner and Kootenai counties even more nervous about what would happen if a train derailed.

Neal Herbert / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr Creative Commons

A German citizen who crashed a drone into a lake in Yellowstone National Park this summer has been banned from the park for a year and was ordered to pay $1,600 in fines and restitution.

Andreas Meissner of Koenigswinter, Germany, was charged with four federal misdemeanors after a drone he was using to shoot video of a charity bicycle ride through the park crashed into Lake Yellowstone on July 18.

The Bonneville Power Administration will pay Idaho about $40 million over 10 years to protect wildlife habitat in southern Idaho.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced the agreement Tuesday that's part of the utility's requirement to mitigate impacts that hydropower projects in southern Idaho have on wildlife.

The money will be paid to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

About $22 million will be used for restoration, acquisition and stewardship of at least 13.5 square miles of land. Another $4 million will be used to administer the program over 10 years.

Dave Shumaker / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho is famous for its crystal clear rivers. But these days, the Snake River is not one of them.

The Snake is the state’s largest river and it makes southern Idaho’s agriculture economy possible. But that industry is also polluting the Snake

The U.S. Geological Survey uses words like ‘degraded’ and ‘impaired’ to describe parts of the river. Richard Manning calls the Snake “Idaho’s sewer system.”

rancher
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

For years there's been a battle raging between Idaho ranchers and the federal government over whether ranchers should be able to fight wildfires.

Ranchers say they've always just gone out there, with their trucks and tanks of water and try to put the fires out themselves. The feds have said, leave it to the pros and don't make yourself a liability.

At times it's almost come close to blows. But now a truce has been struck that could change the way fires are fought every summer.

High costs of wildfires

Wildfire Near Cascade Grows To 75 Acres

Sep 19, 2014
Photo Courtesy Boise National Forest

This story was updated at 12:05 p.m. Sept. 22.

A small wildfire burning southeast of Cascade has grown to 75 acres. The Bull Fire is burning in a remote area on the Boise National Forest.

Forest officials say 115 firefighters are now working on the blaze.

No structures are threatened by the fire, but the forest has closed a handful of trails in the area.

It’s not clear what started the fire, its cause is under investigation.

This story was originally posted at 11:15 a.m. Sept. 19.

National Weather Service

The air quality in the Treasure Valley has dropped from good to moderate, thanks to a change in winds that’s bringing in smoke from the south. The National Weather Service in Boise reports the sudden influx of smoke into Idaho is due to a change in the wind pattern.

Gary Beck / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Fish and Game Department is cracking down on an illegal hunting practice known as "jacklighting." Hunters pull over to the side of a road at night, get out of the car and shine a high powered spotlight on a hillside. Any dear or elk are frozen in place by the sudden glare. Then the hunters shoot.

Fish and Game says the practice is dangerous and unethical, so the department is taking further action to catch and prosecute perpetrators.

rickotto62 / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) finds that ground water levels have dropped in parts of the Wood River Valley.

USGS hydrologist Jim Bartolino’s team looked at changes in ground water and surface water between 2006 and 2012.

Bartolino says there are two distinct parts to the aquifer under the valley.

Courtesy of DFPA

Remotely monitored video cameras are replacing some human fire lookouts on mountaintops around the Northwest.

A private non-profit called the Douglas Forest Protective Association was the first in the region to switch to remote camera fire detection. The southwest Oregon-based association deployed its first system in 2007.

The firefighting consortium's Kyle Reed said it has now replaced all of its manned fire lookouts with video cameras.

Remotely monitored video cameras are replacing some human fire lookouts on mountaintops around the Northwest.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Do you ever wonder where your poop goes when you flush the toilet? If you live in Boise, it ends up somewhere a little out of the ordinary. It goes to a place called 20 Mile South Farm, so named because it's 20 miles south of Boise.

“Everybody who flushes the toilet contributes to this fertilizer right here,” Says Ben Nydegger, Boise's biosolids program manager.

Biosolids is the industry term for the stuff he’s standing next to. It’s a dark-brown pile about three-feet-tall and roughly twice the area of an Olympic swimming pool.

Joe Parks / Flickr Creative Commons

The number of returning chinook salmon on the Columbia River has taken a dramatic upswing. Over the weekend, 107,000 chinook salmon climbed the fish ladder at Bonneville dam.

A spokeswoman with the Columbia Inter Tribal Fish Commission, Sara Thompson, says those numbers set a new record.

Pages