Environment

A new study shows that global wind speeds have increased in the last decade, and that may allow wind turbines in the Mountain West to generate more clean energy.

TROY MABEN / AP Images

Idaho Fish and Game officials say despite national trends showing a decline in hunting, the Gem State's numbers are steady. But most people will never participate in the sport, and some see it as morally wrong. We learn more about hunting and the culture surrounding it, which is a significant source of revenue for the department's conservation efforts. 

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

An analysis of dams around the United States shows that nearly 1,700 are reaching dangerous levels of disrepair, including dozens in the Mountain West.

 

Flickr Creative Commons, John Westrock

If a wildfire was threatening your home, would you evacuate? What if the threat was only about the smoke, would your answer change?

 


For much of the last decade, air pollution was decreasing. But it’s now on the rise, particularly in the West.

That’s according to a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. It found that between 2016 and 2018, the levels of fine particulate matter increased 11.5% in the West. California's been impacted the most.

Washington State University Press

Niels Sparre Nokkentved spent decades as an environmental reporter, mostly in Idaho. Now in retirement, he's turning his attention away from daily stories in a fast-paced news cycle to longer form writing. His newest book asks readers to consider the longterm consequences of ecological decisions we make today. He joins Idaho Matters to discuss "To Think Like A Mountain."

Elaine Thompson / AP Images

Wildfires have taken place across the West for centuries. But as climate change and explosive growth create dangerous conditions for folks who live in Idaho, how does wildfire smoke factor in? Turns out, smoke has a more widespread effect. But according to a new study people in the Treasure Valley do not percieve this danger in the same way. Idaho Matters talks with two Boise State University researchers looking at the gap between public perception and the hazards of smoke. 

Reducing the number of wild horses and burros on Western public lands could take 15 years and cost $5 billion, the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management told reporters during a news conference this week. 

Franklin Reyes / AP Images

Small scale solar production has become a popular way to decrease carbon emissions, but may people also view it as an investment. When solar panels are installed, there is an opportunity to sell any excess power back to the power company. But Idaho Power would like to change the way folks receive credits. Idaho Matters talks to a solar advocate about why these changes could set back Idaho homeowners who have already installed the panels.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A new report from Congress’s watchdog says employees overseeing public lands are facing hundreds of threats and assaults.

 

This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting

The Promise And Peril Of Environmental Philanthropy | A Privately-Funded Park For The People | Save The Cowboy, Stop The American Prairie Reserve | A Hunter’s Paradise | The Buffalo Is A Symbol of God

The northern Great Plains aren’t much to look at. It’s the drab, boring part of a cross-country interstate drive between Seattle and Chicago. 

No trees in sight. No water. But Sean Gerrity, founder of American Prairie Reserve, has always seen something more out here. 

The U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho will maintain a 2015 policy aimed at protecting millions of acres in the western United States along with the keystone species Greater Sage Grouse. The move temporarily puts a stop to an attempt by the Trump Administration to amend the policy.

A new study suggests huge fire blankets can help protect homes during wildfires.

ROSS D. FRANKLIN / AP IMAGES

Ken Salazar served as Secretary of the Interior for President Barack Obama. He’s speaking in Idaho next week on the role the U.S. plays in global climate change negotiations and is critical of the current administration’s attention to climate change.

 

Ross D. Franklin / AP Images

Former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will be in Idaho next week for the annual Sherman J. Bellwood Lecture at the University of Idaho. Salazar led the nation’s efforts develop and implement the framework for America’s energy independence under the Obama Administration. He joins Idaho Matters to discuss his lecture Oct. 22 in Boise focusing on climate change and the future of energy.

DAVID MCNEW / GETTY IMAGES

Emissions from Boise metro area traffic have gone up almost 146% over the last two decades, according to a New York Times analysis published Wednesday from Boston University’s data. Pollution from transportation grew faster than the area's population, resulting in a 12% pollution increase per capita from 1990-2017.

Travis S. / Flickr

More than two hundred species in Idaho are threatened and edging closer to the endangered species list. One bill on Capitol Hill is aiming to change that.


Larry Lamsa via Flickr

A new report from the National Audubon Society paints a grim picture for the future of North America’s birds. The group says nearly two-thirds of bird species could go extinct due to climate change.


David Zalubowski / AP Images


In September, a new study in the Journal Science documented a 29% decrease of bird populations since 1970. The number was shocking, but not surprising for people who follow these trends. Wildlife advocates say one of the best ways to stop this movement is with an act of Congress.

 

FLICK/NPS CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSE

Idaho’s fairly quiet fire year is reflected in its bank account, with this year’s wildfire bill coming in far less than average.


Lily Colson / IDAHO POWER

This segment originally aired August 7, 2019.

Ten-year-old Lily Colson likes penguins and polar bears and she wanted to protect them from the effects of climate change. This Boise 4th grader somehow went from protecting penguins to coming up with a new way to use solar power ... without having to build more infrastructure. She calls the idea “Solar Lines.”

Wildland firefighters use fire retardant — the red stuff that air tankers drop — to suppress existing blazes. But Stanford researchers have developed a gel-like fluid they say makes fire retardant last longer and could prevent wildfires from igniting in the first place if applied to ignition-prone areas.

Montana Fish Wildlife And Parks / AP Images

The caribou are now officially an endangered species and they have all been removed from the continental U.S. The last caribou was recently airlifted from the Selkirk Mountain Range to British Columbia where a restoration project is underway.  Idaho Matters explains the restoration project and the likelihood of seeing the animals in the country again.

A radical environmental movement that originated in the UK is now going international, with several chapters in the Mountain West. 

CAXTON PRESS

This segment originally aired May 21, 2019.

Working the Wilderness: Early Leaders for Wild Land relates the stories of five U.S. Forest Service workers who literally wrote the book on working and living in the wilderness. Idaho Matters talks with author John McCarthy about these early pioneers of wilderness protection.

Pages