Environment

Jimmy Emerson / Flickr Creative Commons

Water banking is something you’ve probably heard of in stories about California’s drought. The idea is that if you’re a farmer with a water right and have more water than you need for that year, you can sell it to another farmer in the system who needs more.

“Idaho’s actually somewhat on the forefront of water banking," says Neeley Miller of the Idaho Department of Water Resources, "and I think what the board would like to do is enhance those mechanisms.”

Five conservation groups on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Idaho seeking to stop a federal agency from killing wolves in the state until a new environmental analysis is prepared.

Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project and four other groups in the 27-page federal lawsuit say the 2011 analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services is outdated.

 

Erin McClure / Boise State Public Radio

In 2014, an analysis in Ada County determined that nearly half of the trash being thrown out by residential households was organic waste, such as food scraps, yard debris, and compostable paper. Now, in an effort to reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill, the City of Boise has announced plans for a public composting program.

Boise city staff presented the first details of the composting program proposal at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting. City spokesman Mike Journee says it’s been dubbed ‘Curb It 2’ and will be an extension of Curb It, the city’s recycling system.

Federal authorities have fined an Idaho food processing company $273,000 following the release of a dangerous gas.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Tuesday announced the fine against Dickinson Frozen Foods.

Authorities say the large release of anhydrous ammonia in December 2015 at its eastern Idaho plant in Sugar City where it processes potatoes didn't cause any injuries but other major ammonia releases at the facility have.

Travis S. / Flickr

Federal officials have released a plan to close about 30 square miles of grazing allotments to domestic sheep and goats in west-central Idaho to protect bighorn sheep from diseases.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's release of the final supplemental environmental impact statement closing three allotments starts a protest period that runs through June 19.

Two of the allotments are east of Riggins near the Salmon River and one is to the south along the Little Salmon River.

Bogus Basin Recreation Area

Idaho water managers say they will step up funding for a cloud seeding program that's already been credited with increasing the state's mountain snowpack.

The Capital Press reports that the Idaho Power Co. program releases silver iodine into the atmosphere, which helps ice form in the clouds and increases precipitation.

The cloud seeding began in 2003. Idaho Power estimates that the extra snowpack creates an average of 800,000 acre-feet of water, roughly the volume of the American Falls Reservoir. It generates enough hydro-power to supply 17,000 homes.

Steelhead
Matt Corsi / Idaho Fish and Game

The first attempt to delist one of the 13 species of Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead protected under the Endangered Species Act has been denied by federal authorities.

The decision made public Thursday by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries cites concerns Snake River fall chinook wouldn't remain viable without continued protections.

An Alaska commercial fishing advocacy group called Chinook Futures Coalition requested the delisting in January 2015.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

For the first time, U.S. officials have sent firefighters to help battle a giant blaze in Canada that has destroyed parts of Fort McMurray in Alberta.

The National Interagency Fire Center says 100 firefighters flew out of in Boise, Idaho, on Wednesday morning and another 100 left from Missoula, Montana.

Officials say the firefighters are from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell announced $10 million to go toward making landscapes more resilient against wildfires across the country. It’s a continuation of a directive she made last year in Boise. She made the announcement Tuesday at the National Interagency Fire Center.

 

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

A coalition in southern Idaho hopes to turn Craters of the Moon National Monument into Idaho's first national park.

Butte County commissioner Rose Bernal told KIVI-TV that getting the monument national park status could provide a much-needed boost to the struggling local economy and draw tourists already headed to Yellowstone. But opponents fear a switch could lead to land use limitations.

Yellowstone National Park extends slightly into Idaho and Montana, but it's mostly in Wyoming.

Dr. Clinton Shock

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Tuesday will visit the sagebrush burned in last year’s massive Soda Fire in southwest Idaho and eastern Oregon. The Bureau of Land Management is working to recover the area, but a group of private scientists are concerned about the way the recovery is being handled. Specifically, that the agency is hurrying through the recovery without following its own concepts for adaptive management. The BLM though, says the project is being handled correctly.

WaterArchives / Flickr Creative Commons

The Army Corps of Engineers Wednesday told the Idaho Department of Water Resources it could not recommend raising the height of Arrowrock Dam on the Boise River. The announcement was a disappointment to the state and the Corps.

The water resources board thought raising the height of the hundred-year-old dam would be the best way to reduce flood risk and increase water storage in the Treasure Valley. So it commissioned the Army Corps to study it. After a seven-year study costing nearly $3 million, the Corps agreed.

New York Canal
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho water regulators have ordered 160 eastern Idaho groundwater users to cut back their consumption.

The Post Register reports that the Idaho Department of Water Resources on Wednesday announced a curtailment order that will go into effect June 3 and will shift water rights over many upstream users to the Surface Water Coalition, a group of Magic Valley irrigators with senior water rights.

Idaho Department of Agriculture

Idaho officials intercepted a boat Tuesday on U.S. Highway 93 that was carrying a potentially harmful invasive species.

The boat was moored in Lake Mead, Nevada, which is infested with quagga and zebra mussels. When it entered Idaho, the owners were required to stop at one of the state’s 16 inspection stations to ensure none of the invasive species were brought into the state.

But Lloyd Knight, with Idaho’s Department of Agriculture, said that’s not what happened.

Rocky Barker / Idaho Statesman

Federal officials are taking public comments on a plan to build about 400 miles of fire breaks in southwest Idaho and southeast Oregon following last year's massive wildfire in the area.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management says some of the fire breaks that follow road corridors have already been built on an emergency basis.

The agency is considering the environmental effects of creating more fuel breaks using mechanical and chemical treatments, plantings and targeted grazing.

Richard Cassan / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal judge has halted a salvage logging project in northern Idaho at the request of two environmental groups that say it violates the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale on Thursday ruled the U.S. Forest Service cannot go ahead with the project near the Selway and Middle Fork Clearwater rivers that aims to harvest 34 million board feet of timber scorched by a 2014 wildfire.

The lightning-caused Johnson Bar Fire burned more than 20 square miles, mostly on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.

Bryant Olsen / Flickr Creative Commons

U.S. Customs and Border Protection wants to reopen a northern Idaho road in designated grizzly bear habitat near the Canadian border the federal agency says is needed for national security.

A 6-mile section of Bog Creek Road in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests would be opened for official use to provide an east-west route in the Selkirk Mountains.

The road cuts through the Selkirk Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone and was closed in the 1980s to protect grizzlies. Officials say it has deteriorated and needs significant repairs.

wild horses, nevada, wildlife
James Marvin Phelps / Flickr Creative Commons

The head of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management says it's time to admit his agency has a $1 billion problem.

BLM Director Neil Kornze says the administration can't afford to wage an increasingly uphill battle to protect the ecological health of federal rangeland across the West while at the same time properly managing tens of thousands of wild horses and caring for tens of thousands more rounded up in government corals.

Bryant Olsen / Flickr Creative Commons

Over a period of several days in mid-March, 335 geese were found dead at Mud Lake and Market Lake Wildlife Areas in eastern Idaho. If this story sounds familiar – that’s because it is.

snakeriveralliance.org

The clean energy advocacy group the Snake River Alliance today launched a campaign called Solarize the Valley. For the next 10 weeks the group will be trying to get as many people as possible in Ada and Canyon Counties to install solar panels on their homes and businesses.

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