Environment

While Colorado and Utah are prepping for a severe wildfire season this year, Montana, Wyoming and northern Idaho have been counting their lucky stars because all three states had a huge snowpack this season.

“We have the best snowpacks in the country,” said meteorologist Michael Richmond.

When all that snow melts, it’ll keep the forest wet and protected from fire.

However that doesn’t mean the region is free and clear.  Richmond said it may get hotter and drier than usual this summer. A lot of heat and no rain can dry out a forest within a week or two.

  

This is about two very different visions of how we should use land in the American West.

On the Great Plains of Montana, conservationists and tribes want to rewind the clock and return wild bison to the shortgrass prairie. But cowboys and ranchers say if that happens, their way of life – their very culture – will disappear.

Keith Ridler / AP

A total of four barrels containing radioactive sludge at an eastern Idaho nuclear site were found to have ruptured, officials said Wednesday, after initially saying earlier this month that one barrel was leaking.

What we know about air pollution and health has roots in the mountain valleys of Utah. Winter smog episodes here are legendary.

The U.S. Interior Department wants to repeal an Obama-era rule that reduces the burning of methane gas on federal lands. The public comment period on that plan ended April 23, 2018 and it looks like almost everybody thought it was a bad idea.


John Westrock / Flickr

The American Lung Association is out with its annual State of the Air report, and the findings about Idaho are mixed.

It’s International Dark Sky Week, a time to look up and enjoy the night sky across the globe.  Our region is home to many dark sky parks and communities. We’re also home to lots of growth and that means growing light pollution.  

Keith Ridler / AP Images

In 1995, former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt signed an agreement with the Department of Energy, laying out deadlines to safely remove nuclear waste from the Idaho National Laboratory storage facility. The first of those deadlines is the end of this year.

Bureau of Land Management

The federal government has signed off on the final routes on public land for a 990-mile-long power line across Idaho and Wyoming.

If you’re sneezing a bit more this year, well you’re in good company. At least 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year. But that number is climbing, and it may be related to climate change.  

A new report from the American Thoracic Society shows how tightening federal air-pollution standards would pay off in better health and longer lives.

A recent aerial survey revealed there are only three wild caribou left in the contiguous United States. Biologists say the chances to save them are slim, but an international recovery team is still trying.

Before the 19th century, thousands of woodland caribou ranged from Washington to New England. But then those herds were decimated by overhunting, logging and broken-up habitat.

Now you can count the number of wild caribou left in the Lower 48 on one hand. They live in the Selkirk Mountains of northern Idaho.

Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

For the second year in a row, Idaho farmers will have ample water to keep their fields watered this season.

 


Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling for an investigation into the National Park Service, pointing to a report they say follows a "pattern" of censoring scientists who study climate change. So I checked in with the scientist who wrote the latest report and is now worried about her future.

MODIFIED FROM SEAGER ET AL. EARTH INTERACTIONS, 2018

The dry and arid climate of the Western U.S. is marching eastward, thanks to climate change.

That’s the conclusion of a set of studies from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Institute. 

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