Environment

J. N. Stuart / Flickr Creative Commons

Large numbers of migratory birds have reportedly dropped dead in New Mexico and Colorado.

There’s still confusion over the deaths, like how many died and what exactly killed them. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believes the bird deaths in Colorado and New Mexico were caused by an unusual cold front.


Nampa Fire Department

The Nampa Fire Department and the Boise Fire Department have deployed teams throughout the west this wildfire season. Nampa Fire, along with crews from Parma, Kuna and Sand Hollow, fought fires near San Francisco for 23 days. But their work didn’t end there.

 


Episode 3: Streamers

Sep 22, 2020
Ashley Ahearn

As the climate warms and invasive cheatgrass moves in, thousands of acres of sagebursh are burning across the West each year. And sage grouse are feeling the heat too, as the ecosystem shift destroys their habitat.

Caleb McAdoo is a biologist with Nevada Fish and Game. He's lived in sagebrush country his whole life — he loves this landscape — and now, he's watching it disappear before his eyes. What can we learn from wildfire?


screenshot / via AirNow

 

For folks in the fire science world, the smoke that has engulfed most of the western United States is not surprising. As climate change, years of poor forest management and home development practices come to a head, this could be the new normal in the West. But what no one could predict before 2020 was how a global pandemic would exacerbate the health effects of wildfire smoke.

 

Ashley Ahearn

Join Ashley on a frigid trek through the snow in search of sage grouse with a scientist who has been studying the bird for decades. Michael Schroeder takes us on a journey through the frozen sagebrush and back in time to learn some scientific and cultural lore surrounding this bird. Will we find any birds today? Why are they in so much trouble? Should anyone care?


Ashley Ahearn

A few years ago, Ashley Ahearn burned out on the urban rat race, quit her job at a top NPR member station in Seattle, and moved to 20 acres of big sky and sagebrush in rural Washington state to try to better understand this country, and do better journalism in the process. And, along the way, she got curious about a weird, troubled bird known as the Greater Sage-Grouse, that is native to the sagebrush ecosystem — and fits in a whole lot better there than she does. What the heck is a sage grouse and why does everyone get so worked up about this bird?


Cian Fenton/ Flickr Creative Commons

Last week, Idaho had mostly clear skies and acceptable air quality. But over the weekend, smoke from major West coast fires started to slink in.


Idaho Power / via Facebook

 


Ed Cannady / Idaho Salmon Partnership

 

North of Ketchum and south of Stanley is a large alpine lake full of cobalt blue water. The beauty of Pettit Lake is stunning, but under the water lies a long and deep struggle for the survival of Snake River sockeye salmon.

DEQ.IDAHO.GOV

 

The Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer is a critical drinking water source for southern and eastern Idaho. More than 300,000 Idahoans rely on the natural underground storage to provide clean, safe water every day. But due to a combination of farming and agricultural practices in the Magic Valley, the water source is in danger of contamination. 

Wildfire, fire fighter
U.S. Forest Service

Many western states are experiencing above average wildfire seasons, with nearly 4 million acres burned so far.

 


Slichter Ugrin Architecture

The lab going up in Boise, Idaho, will be part of a new, larger U.S. Geological Survey building. And it would test environmental DNA, or eDNA, from around the nation. That is, instead of trying to find an invasive animal, like a single mussel or fish in a lake, scientists could just sample water to test for DNA of certain species.


Courtesy of USDA

From grabbing a drink to going to the theatre, COVID-19 means city activities are risky. Now, many people are going to the great outdoors for recreation, which could mean a potential increase in wildfire risk.

 


Skies are hazy across the region thanks to the many wildfires burning in the West, and that smoke is more dangerous during the pandemic. 

Richard Grimes / USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has greenlighted the expansion of hunting and fishing access to more than 2.3 million acres and 147 wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries across the nation.


Mountain Rides Facebook

 


If all goes according to plan, folks in the Wood River Valley could be riding electric buses next summer. Mountain Rides Transportation Authority — Sun Valley’s public transportation organization — has plans to replace its entire diesel fuel fleet with electric beginning in 2021.

There's an effort afoot to better identify heat waves – like the one gripping much of the American West right now.

1963 North Cascades Study Team investigation / National Park Service

 

Back in 1966, a mining company had a plan to develop an open-pit mine in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington state. Endangering the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area, local and national conservationists got to work. 

No, it's not a sci-fi movie. A fire tornado touched down near the Nevada-California border Saturday, during the Loyalton Fire about 25 miles west of Reno, Nev.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

 

Between the pandemic, the economic fallout of COVID-19 and the revolution for racial justice, several global crises are coming to a head. Another notable crisis? Climate change. 

Rex Parker / Flickr Creative Commons

 

Forty years ago last month, the area that is the Frank Church Wilderness was designated by Congress, creating the largest wilderness area in the Lower 48. 

Predictive Services, NIFC

Although Idaho has yet to see any big fires this year, the risk of fire increases in August and wildland fire potential is above average. 


Congressman Mike Simpson's Office / via Idaho Statesman

 

Stanley, Idaho Mayor Steve Botti has his hands full. Besides coronavirus, wildfires, earthquake aftershocks and routine city business, Botti has been dealing with a controversial trail plan and the retaliation that has come from moving forward with constructing that trail. Mayor Botti joins Idaho Matters live to talk about what's been going on in his small town. 

Boise Bicycle Project / via Facebook

 

Each year, Boise Goathead Fest celebrates celebrates the capital city's bicycling culture with a big gathering of cyclists in a downtown park. The goathead is the common name for the puncture vine, a pesky invasive weed that embeds in bike tires and causes many flats throughout the year. They're found in the Boise foothills, but goatheads can also wreak havoc on the Greenbelt and roads around the Treasure Valley. 

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to uphold a federal judge’s 2018 decision to keep Yellowstone grizzly bears under Endangered Species Act protections. 

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