Snake River

Associated Press

Environmental groups are asking a federal court to halt 11 infrastructure projects on four lower Snake River dams in Washington state that could ultimately be removed if a pending review determines the dams need to come out in order to help salmon.

The 45-page notice filed late Monday in Portland, Oregon, estimates the cost of the projects at $110 million.

Little Black Star / Flickr

Idaho’s Office of Emergency Management is warning of possible flooding around the state, thanks to recent winter storms.

The Idaho Emergency Operations Center is now at the level of Heightened Awareness. That means the threat level is moderate and could develop into a state-level emergency disaster.

Officials are watching the Lemhi River, Big Wood River and the Snake River at Weiser, all of which have ice jams and minor flooding. Ice jams occur when shallow areas of the river freeze faster than deeper spots and the ice gets stuck around bends and curves.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The migration of sockeye salmon from their birth in Idaho’s Redfish Lake to the Pacific Ocean ties Oregon, Washington and the Gem State together. But that trek is a brutal one that kills many fish each year, and advocates say their journey is made more difficult by four federally run dams on the Snake River in Washington.

Oregon State Police / Twitter

Law enforcement officials say an Idaho man was flung 50 feet into the Snake River and forced to swim to a nearby island after being struck by a vehicle on a bridge.

Oregon State Police say that 34-Steven Arrasmith, of Mesa, Idaho, was traveling Monday on Interstate 84 before stopping between the Idaho and Oregon border to offer assistance to a driver who had lost control on black ice and crashed into a bridge.

According to OSP, a third vehicle then lost control on the ice and struck Arrasmith's Jeep. Arrasmith was flung off the bridge when the Jeep lurched forward.

BriarCraft / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Power is working to improve water quality and habitat in parts of the Snake River upstream from dams in Hells Canyon.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that the utility company recently wrapped up a project to deepen a stretch of river and plant more than 18,000 trees near Walter's Ferry and other efforts in different parts of the river are expected.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

It’s 60 miles across, mostly hidden from view and vital to the economy of Idaho. Much of the time, the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer gets little attention, even from people who rely on it every day. Without it, farmland would disappear and cities from Twin Falls to Rexburg would dry up. As we begin our series on water in Idaho, we take a closer look at the state’s largest “body” of water, hidden underneath the Snake River Plain.

Amy Meredith / Flickr Creative Commons

In an unprecedented move, Montana officials last week closed a 200-mile stretch of one of the most popular fisheries in the West. The Yellowstone River has been contaminated with a parasite that’s killed thousands of whitefish, the same parasite that continues to impact some Idaho rivers. 

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.

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.

snake river, canyon
ChadH / Flickr Creative Commons

The Bureau of Land Management is considering what to do about reports of overcrowding on the South Fork of the Snake River.

The Post Register reports the Upper Snake Field Office of the BLM will be holding a series of focus group and gathering input in other ways during a 30-day public comment period.

Proposed solutions include limiting the number of people who float the river, limiting boat access, limiting outfitter use and requiring campsite reservations.

Jerry McFarland / Flickr

Federal authorities have released their final recovery plan for Snake River sockeye salmon, a species that teetered on the brink of extinction in the early 1990s.

Authorities say the plan released Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will create a self-sustaining population of sockeye over the next 50 to 100 years.

The run was listed as endangered in 1991, kicking off a hatchery program that at first had only a handful of returning fish to propagate the species.

Eastern Idaho authorities on Monday searched for the body of a 38-year-old Utah man who was one of four people in a fishing boat that overturned in the Snake River.

Sgt. Jeff Edwards of the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office says three of the four people made it to shore when the boat struck a partially submerged cottonwood tree at about 8 p.m. Sunday.

Edwards says Steve Ryan Woods of Ogden, Utah, was last seen as the boat overturned.

Search and rescue teams searched the river Sunday evening until it became too dark.

Dredging of the Lower Snake River started Monday after a delay of several weeks due to a court challenge.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Tow boat captains, wheat exporters, and the directors of the farthest inland ports in the Northwest are breathing easier today.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart Monday rejected an environmental and tribal challenge to dredging of the lower Snake River.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making a high-stakes bet that it will prevail in a pending lawsuit over Snake River dredging.

BostonTx / Flickr

Environmental groups and the Nez Perce Tribe have filed a lawsuit to prevent dredging of the lower Snake River that enables Lewiston, Idaho, to be the most inland seaport on the West Coast.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Seattle, challenges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' approval of a $6.7 million dredging project scheduled to begin next month.

The lawsuit was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of a coalition of environmental groups.

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.”

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

The largest-ever review of water rights claims wrapped up in Idaho this week. A project that started in 1987 ended Monday when a judge signed the final decree of the Snake River Basin Adjudication

Conflicts between Idaho Power, its customers and farmers in southern Idaho in the late 1970s prompted the state to tackle the massive review. The goal was simple: to clearly define water rights in the basin to help resolve future disputes during drought. 

Since the project, Idaho has defined more than 158,000 water rights.

J Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released its final plan and environmental impact statement for managing sediment accumulation in the lower Snake and Clearwater rivers in northern Idaho.

The plan calls for dredging the navigation channel of the lower Snake River at the confluence of the Clearwater River as early as between Dec. 15 and Feb. 28 this winter.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that the agency has been working on the plan since 2005. The final plan is more than 3,900 pages and cost $16 million to prepare.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is boosting the amount of water flowing in the Snake River in an effort to help native fish between Palisades Reservoir and Shoshone Falls.

Michael Beus with the Bureau of Reclamation in Heyburn, Idaho told The Times-News that the faster, deeper flow will give native cutthroat trout an advantage over invasive rainbow trout.

The bureau has been increasing flows every year since 2004.

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