Environment

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.

A new study includes an interactive map that shows how your home will be affected by climate change in the next 50 years. No surprise —Idaho and the Mountain West will get hotter.

 

Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

Governor Brad Little signed legislation Wednesday that provides a major step forward in ending a years-long dispute over water.

A recent report from NOAA’s National Centers for Environment Information shows there were 14 severe weather events across the country last year costing a total of $89.4 billion. Five of those affected the Mountain West region.

During the partial shutdown, the National Park Service said it was using visitor entrance fees for basic operational costs. That's now changed following a congressional hearing last week by Democratic lawmakers criticizing the use of visitor fees for daily operations. Traditionally, these fees are used for more long-term or major maintenance projects.

Senators from across the country and on both sides of the aisle have introduced a bill to tackle a problematic illness of deer, elk and moose.

It's called chronic wasting disease. Like so-called "mad cow," it’s a prion disease, meaning that it is not caused by viruses or bacteria, but instead by aberrant proteins in the nervous system.

In Need Of Water, An Idaho Town Turns To Its Neighbors

Feb 8, 2019
Boise River, Flooding
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

When CS Beef Packers — a partnership between agribusiness giant J.R. Simplot Company and Caviness Beef Packers, a Texas-based company — opened a 700-job, state-of-the-art cattle-processing facility near Kuna, Idaho, in 2017, officials boasted of boosting the local economy.

Natural Resources Conservation Service

The Natural Resources Conservation Service measures mountain snowpack. Last week, we reported on below-normal levels in the Boise Basin. That was right before the agency's hydrologists went up to Mores Creek Summit near Idaho City to gather data, and right before snow storms came to the region.

 


Oregon Couple Committed To Preserving The Golden Eagles

Feb 7, 2019
Joe Atkinson

Cordi and Joe Atkinson have been caring for birds of prey for nearly four decades. From hunting with falcons to rehabilitating injured eagles, the Atkinsons have become the faces of predatory bird preservation. The Atkinsons join Idaho Matters to discuss their work and the role the birds play in the Idaho ecosystem.

CREDIT MELINDA LOWE / MONARCH BUTTERFLIES OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FACEBOOK PAGE.

Researchers have been concerned about dwindling bee populations for decades, now scientists are worried about massive reductions in monarch butterfly populations. We find out why Idaho's official state insect is in trouble and how scientists are working to preserve the butterfly.

Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

A public meeting on the CuMo Mine, a potential mining project near the Boise River headwaters, was supposed to happen in January. But because of the federal government shutdown, the Forest Service cancelled it.

 


Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

Imagine a swarm of big, black birds flying overhead at dusk. No, it’s not a scene from a Hitchcock film. This is Nampa, Idaho — a small community that’s become the winter home for tens of thousands of crows. They are noisy and messy, and Nampa residents are pushing back.

 

Jim Urquhart / AP Photo

Groups including the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club say the 65 grizzlies that died in 2018 didn’t need to. They sent a letter to state officials urging them to act. 

 


A collection of outdoor trade groups announced they’re forming a collaboration to step up action on climate change.

Chris Steinkamp is the director of one of the trade groups, Snowsports Industries America, which represents snow sports suppliers. He says until recently, brands were hesitant to get involved on such a politically polarized issue -- until, that is, climate change started visibly edging into the reality of their businesses.

Zoo Boise / via Facebook

When you search "zoo poo" on the internet, one of the first things that comes up is a link to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. You quickly learn that the facility sells composted animal waste to people in the Pacific Northwest, and at least one person says it makes amazing garden fertilzer.

A group of Western lawmakers have reintroduced legislation that would give states control of oil and gas projects on federal lands.

The surface temperature at a major reservoir in Colorado has risen 5 degrees over a 35 year period. That's according to a new study from researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Mountain Humane Animal Shelter / via Facebook

The Mountain Humane Animal Shelter was the first no-kill shelter in the state. They can add another superlative to their credentials: Their new facility will be run mostly with solar energy.

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