Wildland Urban Interface

Linn Kinter / Idaho Fish and Game

As we've reported, the Japanese yew is a commonly planted ornamental evergreen in Idaho -- with lethal ramifications for wildlife. Once an elk eats just a couple handfuls of the plant, the animal goes into cardiac arrest and dies within hours. Idaho Fish and Game estimates about 75 elk and pronghorn around the state died this winter from eating yew.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Toward the end of Table Rock Road in Boise, Bob DiGrazia points to a ridge a few hundred yards away.

“It was on January 5th I walked up here," he says. "And I could see birds and coyotes over here. Like coyotes on one carcass,  six to eight [of them].”

DiGrazia is a hunter and he often comes to this spot to just watch elk on the ridge grazing in the winter. That January day, he could see dead elk on the ground in distance. At first he thought poachers were to blame.

He called Idaho Fish and Game and a conservation officer came up right away.

Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

Ada County commissioners have dashed one man's hopes of having his own airstrip in the city's foothills.

The Idaho Statesman reports the commissioners voted 2-1 on Wednesday to overturn a Planning and Zoning decision that would have allowed Dean Hilde to build the 1,200-foot landing strip on about 150 acres as well as a 3,600-square-foot hangar and shop.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

A brush fire near a housing development in Eagle was attacked quickly by firefighters earlier this week. They were able to battle the spark in part because of fire preventive measures taken by the developers who built the Avimor neighborhood.

Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

Update, Thursday, 10:12 a.m.:  The Ada County Commissioners have tabled the issue after hearing three hours of public testimony. According to a press release, 16 people testified in favor of the airstrip and 15 testified against it Wednesday night.

Original post:

Dave Siddoway / Flickr Creative Commons

More than a dozen elk have died this winter in the Wood River Valley. Biologists think the animals have eaten ornamental yew, a non-native shrub some people have planted in their yards. The bright green plants can be shaped into those intricate topiaries you see in English or Japanese gardens.

U.S. Forest Service

State and federal land managers are preparing to burn up to 30,977 acres across southwest Idaho to reduce excessive trees and brush that could contribute to larger wildfires later this year.

The U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Idaho Department of Lands are coordinating to manage the intentional fires.

Bryant Olsen / Flickr Creative Commons

About 750 acres in northern Idaho that's habitat for grizzly bears and other wildlife has been preserved through a federal grant purchase.

The Spokesman-Review reports that a family last month sold the development rights to the land along the Kootenai River north of Bonners Ferry for $798,000.

The grant money through the federal Forest Legacy Program is intended to protect habitat for wildlife while also providing recreation for visitors and allowing logging to continue.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

Wildfires in the West are getting bigger, hotter and more costly. A new report from a national science advocacy group says climate change is one major reason wildfires are getting worse. And short-sighted development policies are a big reason they’re costing more.

In recent years, the number of homes and businesses built in wildfire-prone areas has skyrocketed. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, across 13 Western states there are more than 1.2 million homes -- with a combined value of about $190 billion -- that are at high or very high risk of wildfires.

wood roof, cedar shake
WSilver / Flickr Creative Commons

The Hailey City Council has voted to prohibit the use of cedar-shake shingles on rooftops in the wake of last summer's large wildfire.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports the council made the decision early last week.

The new rule exceeds the Wildland Urban Interface Code by prohibiting cedar-shake shingles entirely.

The 170-squre-mile Beaver Creek fire destroyed one home and threatened hundreds of others until it was contained in early September.

U.S. Forest Service

The 2012 wildfire season went down as one of the most active in Idaho’s history. It was an expensive year too, with more than $211 million spent to suppress fires that burned 1.75 million acres.

According to a new report by Jonathan Oppenheimer of the Idaho Conservation League, there are some valuable lessons imbedded in those stats.

Boise National Forest

People in the West are breathing some cleaner air these days, after a summer of dangerous and smoky wildfires.

As the wildfire season begins to wind down, Ken Frederick at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise looked into this question: how does this summer's fire season stack up against prior ones? Frederick decided to tackle the topic through a short and info-packed video.

Beaver Creek Fire, Wildfires
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

At least 13 percent of Idaho's wildland urban interface (WUI) is developed. That's according to data gathered by Montana-based think tank Headwaters Economics. As wildfire season continues in the West, Stateline pulled together an interesting article about the increasing number of homes being built on the edge of forests and how that can complicate wildfire management.

Brad Washa / Boise National Forest

A new report on wildfires and risk in Western states says Idaho has nearly 4,000 homes considered to be at very high risk of burning in a potential fire.  The report was compiled by California-based CoreLogic and looked at potential threats in 13 states.

CoreLogic created four risk levels and then estimated how many homes exist in each.  The numbers for Idaho are as follows:  Low: 20,192; Moderate: 11,894; High: 6,706; and Very High: 3,927.   

All together, nearly 740,000 Western homes are considered at high or very-high risk.