Climate disasters prompt call for funds and place Simpson in grazing debate

Idaho GOP Rep. Mike Simpson has pooled his resources with other western and southern congressmen aimed at bring disaster relief to troubled farmers and ranchers.

He and 40 other lawmakers from across the isle wrote a letter to his friend, Wisconsin Democrat David Obey, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, asking for extension of two disaster compensation programs for ranchers and farmers. They are responding to widespread drought nationwide and extensive wildfires across western rangelands like the 652,000-acre Murphy Complex fire in Idaho and Nevada in July.

He could be calling the initiative the global warming compensation program. The drought and the wildfires fit the model of the predictions of the 2,500 researchers working with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Salmon passage, river temperatures still key obstacles to new Hells Canyon licenses

Idaho Power Co. is in the stretch run of getting a new long-term license for its three Hells Canyon dams, which provide about a third of the electricity its customers in Idaho and Oregon use.

Since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released its final environmental impact statement on its staff’s relicensing proposal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid weighed in urging a reconsideration of requiring the utility to provide salmon passage at the dams.

Now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants the FERC staff and of course, Idaho Power, to show why they don’t think they can afford to meet the federal standards for water temperatures below the dams.

1192114537 Salmon passage, river temperatures still key obstacles to new Hells Canyon licenses Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Yellowstone moose use roads to outsmart grizzly bears

The idea that roads are bad for wildlife has been supported scientifically and said so many times that it has been taken as gospel by most westerners.

Grizzly bears and elk in particular, benefit from roadless areas mostly because a lack of roads means a lack of hunters. Standards limiting the miles of roads per square mile are one of the most important management tools wildlife officials have to increase populations of both animals in the Northern Rockies.

But what’s good for the grizzly is not necessarily good for the moose.

A new study, published in Biology Letters by Joel Berger of the Wildlife Conservation Society, in Teton Valley, Idaho, says moose in Yellowstone hang around roads to protect their calves. In other words, the moose have learned to use the bear’s own aversion to roads as a survival technique.

Cormorants move in on terns to corner the market on salmon in the Columbia

Salmon have a new predator to avoid on the way from Idaho to the Pacific.

Just at the point that the Army Corps of Engineers and others have gotten Caspian terns under control, a new bird has flown into the picture and presents an even larger threat to struggling salmon.

The bird is the double-crested cormorant , which has moved into an island near the mouth of the Columbia northwest of Astoria Ore. Cormorant numbers have grown from less than 100 pairs in 1989 to about 14,000, which Michael Milstein of the Oregonian says is the largest population of the big, black water birds in the world.

Idaho farmers could benefit from ethanol loan guarantee but competition fierce

Eastern Idaho hamlet Shelley hopes to get one of the first plants that produce ethanol out of wheat and last week the Department of Energy moved one step closer to helping them.

The federal agency that runs the Idaho National Laboratory approved regulations for handing out loan guarantees of up to 100 percent of the cost of building new factories that produce ethanol from cellulose, plant fiber instead of grains. This process uses less energy and chemicals than ethanol plants like the one under construction in Burley.

Cellulose ethanol theoretically reduces the production of greenhouse gases and doesn’t drive up the price of food and livestock feed like corn ethanol does. But there is no free lunch. Cellulose ethanol costs more to produce, at least right now.

Carole King and supporters finally get House hearing on ambitious wilderness bill

Carole King and her patient, hard-working band of wilderness advocates finally have a hearing for the most ambitious wilderness bill since the Alaska Lands Act.

The U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands will hold a hearing October 18 on the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act. The bill, sponsored by New York Democrat Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Connecticut Republican Christopher Shays would designate as wilderness nearly 7 million acres in Montana, 9.5 million acres in Idaho, 5 million acres in Wyoming, 750,000 acres in eastern Oregon, and 500,000 acres in eastern Washington.

1191599238 Carole King and supporters finally get House hearing on ambitious wilderness bill Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Grizzly mother adopts cubs after wolf chase

A popular way for environmental groups to raise money is to ask donors to “adopt a bear,” or whatever animal they are aimed at protecting.

A grizzly bear sow in Yellowstone had her own ideas this summer, actually adopting two cubs from one of her neighbors. Chuck Schwartz, the top research for the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, which keeps track of Yellowstone’s bears, revealed this strange but not unheard of behavior this week.

Two radio-collared sows with cubs were living in the lush high meadows Dunraven Pass in August when a pack of wolves split the cubs off from their mothers. One sow had been seen with three cubs and the second with two prior to the encounter with the wolves.

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