Environment

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."

Scott Ki / Boise State Public Radio

Sheep grazing along trails is a rite of spring in the Boise foothills, so are the White Great Pyrenees dogs that protect them. 

Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission spokesman Steve Stuebner says it's important to keep pets leashed up to avoid a confrontation with the guard dogs.   "And then if you’re on a mountain bike and you come up to the sheep, it’s a good idea to dismount from your bike and get off your bike and walk through the sheep."

Group: Idaho Unprepared for Climate Change

Apr 19, 2012

An environmental group has rated each state’s strategy for dealing with climate change. Problems can range from droughts to rising sea levels.  Two of the Pacific Northwest states are well prepared. Idaho is not. 

Both Washington and Oregon have strategies to deal with water problems that could arise from climate change. The Natural Resource Defense Council says nine states – including Washington and Oregon – are “well prepared.”

Idaho, though, is on the bottom half of the list. Ben Chou is a water quality analyst with the Council. He says Idaho is “largely unprepared.”

Two-Headed Trout Leads to Scrutiny of Mine Pollution

Apr 19, 2012
J.R. Simplot/Idaho DEQ

Here’s an image you usually don’t see without the help of Photoshop: two-headed fish.  Pictures of deformed baby trout with two heads show up in a study of creeks in a remote part of southeast Idaho.  The study examined the effects of a contaminant called selenium.  It comes from a nearby mine owned by the Boise-based agribusiness giant, J.R. Simplot.  Critics say the two-headed trout have implications beyond a couple of Idaho creeks. 

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Neighbors of a proposed nuclear power plant in Payette County have filed a complaint against it in district court.  They say the plant is part of a stock scheme, and that Payette County has played a role in this complicated case. 

The suit accuses Alternate Energy Holdings of manipulating its stock price as part of a fraud scheme.  It says the company has never had any revenues, never shown a profit, and never built anything.  It also blames Payette County officials for joining in the scheme.

Tim Melbourne / CWU

A prototype earthquake early warning system worked as designed when an actual quake gently shook California last Friday. Researchers reported the results Tuesday at the annual meeting of American seismologists.

Last year, a private foundation in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey gave a multimillion dollar grant to create an automated earthquake warning system for the Pacific Coast states. The idea is to provide advance notice to prepare people for severe shaking. It could come via a cell phone alert or a pop-up on your computer or TV screen.

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