Environment

CREDIT MICK THOMPSON / FLICKR

Trumpeter swan cygnets are dying at a startling rate, threatening the swan populations of the West. We talk with Camas Refuge Manager Brian Wehausen and wildlife biologist Andrea Kristof about what is causing these declines.

Updated 12:24 p.m. MT 3/14/19

Chris Lehnertz has resigned from her position running Grand Canyon National Park weeks after an internal investigation cleared her of unfounded harassment complaints.

Matt Guilhem / Boise State Public Radio

Mountain snowfall in February means Idaho is poised to have plenty of water this spring.

Reservoirs on the Upper Snake River are at 87 percent of capacity. There’s so much water that the Bureau of Reclamation is already making releases from the Palisades Reservoir for flood control.

Farmers in the Magic Valley can expect a banner year in terms of irrigation. With lots of liquid stored in reservoirs and yet-to-melt snow, those in the agriculture sector are heading into spring with higher than normal levels of stored water.

wild horses, nevada, wildlife
James Marvin Phelps / Flickr Creative Commons

The Bureau of Land Management is offering people $1,000 if they’ll adopt a wild horse. 

Forecasters in Colorado are warning of “very destructive” avalanches as heavy snowfall and strong winds are expected Wednesday.

Avalanches have already buried cars, killed skiers and left chunks of forest scattered across highways and even dangling from power lines in what’s considered a historic avalanche season. But Colorado isn’t alone.

Bureau of Land Management

President Trump’s proposed budget includes significant cuts to the Department of Interior, including the National Park Service. 

owyheeinitiative.org

The Owyhee Initiative is a compact agreed upon by several "national, regional, and local stakeholders" that would preserve the environmental and economic future of Owyhee County. The Owyhee Initiative Implementation Act was introduced by Senator Crapo in 2009 and signed into law by President Obama. Idaho Matters looks at the impact of this act as it nears its 10th anniversary with Lou Lunte, deputy director for the Nature Conservancy in Idaho and ranchers Brenda Richards and Chris Black.

Catherine Chanel / Flickr

As temperatures begin to creep up, residents of the Wood River Valley face a particular risk of flooding. Spring runoff has inundated neighborhoods in the region the last two years.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

It’s been almost a year since Boise began sending hard-to-recycle plastics to a facility in Salt Lake. The plastics that can go in the orange bags are numbered 4, 5, 6 and 7. Once they’re collected from homes around Boise, they’re trucked to Utah and converted to diesel fuel.

 

Sun Valley Institute

The Sun Valley Institute and Warm Springs Consulting are partnering to present a Resiliance Workshop in Hailey to discuss ways to grow Idaho sustainably and to prepare for a future that includes the effects of climate change. We discuss the issues with Amber Beig of Warm Springs Consulting and former Blaine County commissioner Larry Schoen.

Acting Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt said Wednesday that his agency wants to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List. 

CREATIVE COMMONS ZERO - CC0

A bacterial infection that infects Canada geese called "new duck disease" has turned up in the Mountain West.

IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME / Idaho Statesman

Freelance journalist Rocky Barker has been tracking the dwindling numbers of the Selkirk caribou and he joins Idaho Matters to illustrate the effects of encroachment and climate change on the iconic steer of the Northwest.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

More water will start flowing through the Boise River this week as officials work to keep the risk of flooding as low as possible.

Matt Corsi / Courtesy Idaho Fish and Game

Starting March 1, the Idaho Fish and Game is offering a bounty for anglers who hook walleye, also known as yellow pikes. The invasive fish is persistent in lakes across the Mountain West.

 

Matt Guilhem / Boise State Public Radio

After a mild January, February brought record snowfall to central Idaho.

Tiny Stanley, Idaho, deep in the heart of the Sawtooth Mountains, was cut off from the world this week. All roads leading to the town of fewer than 100 residents were blocked by avalanches or snow drifts Wednesday, February 27.

Kari Greer / Boise National Forest

Legislation to mandate the use of cutting edge technology in fighting wildfires passed the House Wednesday and is now headed to the president’s desk.

 

Amanda Peacher / Mountain West News Bureau

Cattle ranchers got a break this week. Their grazing fees on public lands just dropped to the lowest amount allowed under federal law. The average savings per rancher will be just $32 a year, but the decision is still controversial.


Researchers studying wild black bears have found that eating human food could have a deep impact on the animals’ bodies.

Ecologists tracked 30 wild black bears around Durango, Colorado over a few summers and winters. They also tested their hair and blood.

They found that bears that foraged more on human food hibernated for shorter periods of time.

National Parks and public lands in the West are having trouble with cactus poachers. But some park rangers are fighting back by micro-chipping their cacti.

THE NATURE CONSERVANCY

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a 54-year-old congressional act that helps federal, state and local governments to purchase land for preservation and public use. Questions were raised as it was allowed to expire this past October, but last week, it was permanently renewed and we look at how the LWCF helps conserve Idaho lands.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Twin Falls has a recycling problem. According to the Twin Falls Times-News, the City Council has decided not to raise a cap on the cost of recycling – which means some recycled materials will get sent to the dump.

 

CREDIT USDA NRCS

The Gem State is seeing some staggering snowfall this season. Idaho Matters checks in with NRCS water supply specialist Ron Abramovich about what this snowpack means for the state's water supply.

AP Images

Caribou used to be found in the wilds of old growth forests in the Idaho panhandle. The population would often cross state lines into Washington. Now, there are zero caribou roaming free in the lower 48.

 

Julie Falk / Flickr

January was unusually mild, but February has served as a reminder that the calendar still says it’s winter. The spate of cold and snow is providing a two-fold benefit.

Pages