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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: idaho

Idaho scene featured on new ‘forever’ postage stamp

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― The U.S. Postal Service has picked a photograph of an iconic Idaho scene to grace one of its new forever postage stamps. The aerial photograph shows three log rafts floating down an unidentified river on the way to a sawmill. The Idaho Statesman reports ( ) the image was taken by Tom Brakefield of Tennessee while flying in an ultra-light aircraft in 2005. The stamp is part of the new “Earthscapes” series, which explores some of the nation's most visually striking landscapes from the air. Others include Utah's Monument Valley, a network of highways that resemble a basket weave and icebergs bobbing in a lake. The new stamps will be available Oct. 1 in post offices nationwide.

Despite perception, Idaho ranks below middle of states for number of local governments

A new set of data out from the Census Bureau, the “2012 Census of Governments,” shows that it's not necessarily true that every bump on every log in Idaho is incorporated, or that because Idahoans hate government so much they have lots and lots of it, in the form of what seem to be a myriad of special local taxing districts. Actually, Idaho ranks slightly below the middle among the 50 states for the number of local government units it has - 1,161, ranking 28th. That's for 44 counties, 200 cities, 799 special districts and 118 independent school districts, according to the census data.

That does, however, mean Idaho ranks 12th in the nation for its number of special districts. And we of course rank much lower, 39th among the 50 states, for population. We rank 39th for the number of cities, the same as our ranking for population; and 34th for the number of counties.

So who ranked at the far ends in this comparison? Illinois had the most local governments of any state: 6,968, about 2,000 more than second-place Pennsylvania. Hawaii had the fewest local governments of any state at 21, easily eclipsing second-to-last-place Rhode Island, which had 134, and third-to-last Nevada at 190.

Idaho patients on Oregon medical marijuana face border ordeal

Forty percent of marijuana seizures in Idaho consist of Oregon medical marijuana, according to Idaho State Police records - legal in that state in the right circumstances, but not for anyone across the border in Idaho. On the stretch of I-84 where ISP Trooper Justin Klitch patrols, it's 53 percent, the AP reports. That's led to an odd phenomenon on the Idaho border, in which longtime Idahoans risk arrest to go home from picking up their pot in Oregon, and they often get caught. “It's like crossing the Berlin Wall,” an Idaho woman told AP reporter Nigel Duara. “It's like going into another country.” Click below for Duara's full report.

Idaho fetal-pain abortion law, passed last year, faces federal court challenge

The first challenge to the constitutionality of the so-called fetal pain anti-abortion laws enacted in several states has come from an unlikely place; so has the second, reports the Associated Press. Rick Hearn, the lawyer in the center of this fight, represents an Idaho woman challenging her state's abortion laws in an effort to avoid future prosecution. The same Rick Hearn, who also is a physician, is attempting to jump into the case as a plaintiff using his status as a doctor, even though he has never terminated a pregnancy, in an effort to make sure that if the case is successful, it applies broadly enough to get his client off the hook for good, reports AP reporter Rebecca Boone.

Idaho is among more than half a dozen states that have recently passed legislation banning abortion after 19 weeks of pregnancy based on disputed scientific testimony about ability of fetuses to feel pain at 20 weeks. Idaho's law passed last year; it's now being challenged in federal court. Click below for Boone's full report.

Idaho abortion case an uneasy one for both sides…

NPR reporter Jessica Robinson reports that the arrest of a Pocatello women for using RU-486 purchased on the Internet to self-administer an illegal abortion is proving to be an uneasy one for both sides in the abortion issue. Even as Jennie Linn McCormack prepares to take her case to federal court - and her attorney says he's willing to take it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court - neither pro-choice nor pro-life groups are making much of the case, for a variety of reasons. You can read Robinson's full report here.

Wolf arguments set for tomorrow in 9th Circuit

A panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will hear arguments tomorrow in California on an appeal seeking to stop the ongoing wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana; as of today, Idaho Fish & Game reports that 107 wolves have been taken in Idaho since Aug. 30 in this year's hunting season. Prior requests in federal court for an emergency injunction against the hunts were rejected; the Alliance for the Wild Rockies has appealed to the 9th Circuit. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Matthew Brown in Billings.

A ‘Boise, Idaho rainbow sunrise’…

When my daughter, now 21, was little, she used to call this a “Boise, Idaho rainbow sunrise,” and to this day, the phrase comes to mind when I see one. This morning's is gorgeous; it's chilly, just 34 degrees, but something to see.

Idaho wolf hunting season opens tomorrow

Idaho's second-ever wolf hunting season opens tomorrow, running from Aug. 31 through Dec. 31 in the Island Park and Beaverhead wolf management zones, Aug. 30-June 30 in the Lolo and Selway zones, and Aug. 30-March 31 in the remaining nine zones. Click below for Idaho Fish & Game's full news release.

Bid to block Idaho, Montana wolf hunts rejected

The Associated Press reports that a federal appeals court in Helena, Mont. today rejected a request by environmental groups to halt wolf hunts that are scheduled to begin next week in Idaho and Montana. Click below for the full AP report.

Federal judge in Montana upholds congressional wolf-delisting rider

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge has reluctantly ruled to uphold a congressional budget provision that removed federal protections for the Northern Rockies gray wolf outside of Wyoming. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy says that binding precedent by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals requires him to rule against a constitutional challenge of the rider passed by Congress earlier this year. Molloy wrote in his order Wednesday that without that precedent, he would have ruled unconstitutional the provision that strips wolves of their endangered status in Montana, Idaho and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah. Molloy says he believes the way Congress passed the provision undermines and disrespects the fundamental idea of the rule of law. Before Congress' action in April, Molloy had twice blocked attempts to lift protections for the predators.

Idaho sets wolf hunting, trapping seasons

Idaho's Fish & Game Commission, meeting today in Salmon, has set the state's wolf hunting season for 2011-12. As planned, the season will lack limits in several zones, to encourage more taking of wolves. Commissioners today made a few tweaks to the original proposal from their staff, upping the limits in two zones that have them, extending the trapping season and extending the hunting season in the Lolo zone, and lowering the nonresident wolf tag price to $31.75 statewide retroactively - nonresident hunters who already bought tags would be eligible for a refund. Fish & Game is posting all the details at its website here.

New Commissioner Kenny Anderson, from the Upper Snake Region, participating in his first commission meeting, asked to increase the limits by five each in the Beaverhead and Island Park zones. “I want more for my area, a better hunt and to take out more wolves,” he said.

Wolf issue back in court in Montana

Even as Idaho's Fish & Game Commission prepares to set this year's wolf-hunting season at its meeting this Thursday in Salmon, the wolf issue is back in court in Montana. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy held a two-hour hearing in Missoula today, the AP reports, on a bid by wildlife advocates to challenge Congress' move to strip endangered status from the gray wolf across five states in the Northern Rockies; Molloy now must decide whether Congress violated the separation of powers under the U.S. Constitution. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Matthew Brown in Montana.

Last night’s whopper of a storm was fifth-biggest lightning show in a decade

It's amazingly calm and mild in Boise this morning, with only a few puddles testifying to last night's wild weather - massive amounts of lightning, hard, soaking rains, and whipping wind gusts. We lost power at 10 p.m., which meant TV and computer were silenced in favor of watching the incredible lightning show by candlelight for the next hour and a half. The Boise Police reported two lightning-caused fires totaling 12 acres. “At about 11 p.m., as firefighters had the fires both under control, fire crews had to retreat to their vehicles for their own safety as another very active storm cell brought numerous lightning strikes to the area,” reports BPD spokeswoman Lynn Hightower. “Fortunately the storm also brought moderate to heavy rainfall. Crews were clearing from both fires by midnight.”

The Idaho Statesman reported that a Garden City man was struck by lightning while standing in the front doorway of his home, touching a metal screen door frame; he was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Valerie Mills, a meteorologist and senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Boise, said there were about 50 lightning strikes recorded in Ada County, the fifth-most in the last 10 years. “So yeah, it was a big night,” she said. The violent storm was kicked off by Boise's first really hot day of the year, which wasn't a record but hit 95 degrees. “We had warming below, and cooling aloft,” Mills said. “We also had moisture. That added instability, and the moisture that we had was just the ingredient that was needed to trigger those thunderstorms.” It wasn't the typical Idaho rainstorm - a few drops, a lot of wind, and it's over. Instead, the whopper of a storm was enough to clear out worsening air quality, water everyone's lawns and put on a big light show. “It was quite a day for Ada County, in fact other areas around too, in southeastern Oregon and Southwest Idaho,” Mills said.

Water, water, everywhere…

There's even some snow mixed in this morning here in the Boise foothills, in this spring that still doesn't seem to have sprung. Here, the rain on my window yesterday afternoon turned the green Boise spring landscape into an impressionist painting. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, year-to-date precipitation is well above average in every basin in Idaho, from 119 percent in the Boise basin to 139 percent in the Bruneau. Plus, the “snow-water equivalent,” the measure that shows the depth of water in the snowpack if it were melted, is running even higher - from a statewide low of 113 percent of normal in the Big Lost River basin to a whopping 326 percent of normal in the Weiser River basin; that shows the risk of flooding…

Two lawsuits challenge wolf de-listing

The AP reports that two lawsuits have been filed today in U.S. District Court challenging the congressional legislation that de-listed wolves as unconstitutional. Here's the item from AP in Billings:  BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Environmental groups are challenging as unconstitutional Congressional legislation that took gray wolves off the endangered species list. Two lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday, as control over more than 1,300 wolves was turned over to state authorities in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Utah. A federal budget bill rider in April mandated the lifting of wolf protections. Western lawmakers said they wanted to go around a federal judge who blocked prior efforts to hunt the animals. But environmentalists say that violated the separation of powers required under the Constitution. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits are the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians. Hunts for hundreds of wolves are planned this fall in Montana and Idaho.

Wolves now officially de-listed

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has announced it's reinstating its 2009 decision to remove the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains from the endangered species list - a decision that affects Idaho, Montana, and parts of Oregon, Washington and Utah, but excludes Wyoming, “although the Service is working closely with that state to develop a wolf management plan that would allow wolves in Wyoming to be removed from the list in the future,” according to a FWS news release.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, “Like other iconic species such as the whooping crane, the brown pelican, and the bald eagle, the recovery of the gray wolf is another success story of the Endangered Species Act.” But it was recently passed congressional legislation that took the wolves back off the endangered list, reversing a federal court decision. A final rule published by the agency today reinstates the terms of its 2009 delisting, as directed by the legislation.

“We are implementing the recent legislation that directs the delisting of the gray wolf in most of the Northern Rocky Mountains,” said Interior Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes. “As with other delisted species, we will be applying the Endangered Species Act’s post-delisting monitoring requirements to ensure that wolf populations remain robust, while under state wildlife management.” That includes wolf hunts proposed in both Idaho and Montana. You can read the full FWS news release here, and click below for a full report from the Associated Press.

Now that Obama’s signed bill, wolves could be off endangered list in 60 days

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal wildlife officials say they will take more than 1,300 gray wolves in the Northern Rockies off the endangered species list within 60 days. An attachment to the budget bill signed into law Friday by President Barack Obama strips protections from wolves in five Western states. It marks the first time Congress has taken a species off the endangered list. Idaho and Montana plan public wolf hunts this fall. Hunts last year were canceled after a judge ruled the predators remained at risk. Protections remain in place for wolves in Wyoming because of its shoot-on-sight law for the predators. There are no immediate plans to hunt the small wolf populations in Oregon and Washington. No packs have been established in Utah.

Roll Call: ‘Idaho’s Minnick says he’s done for good’

The Capitol Hill newspaper “Roll Call” reports today that Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick says he’s “gone for good” from elective politics. “I think I’m done with elective politics,” he told the newspaper.  “I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I think it’s time for somebody else.” The article examines the dismal elective record of Democrats in Idaho in the past three decades, and the Idaho party’s future prospects, perhaps with conservative, well-funded Democratic candidates like Minnick. “I might’ve fit the profile of a winner, but it was a bad year,” Minnick told Roll Call before one of his last votes in Congress. “It was a big wave, and I was on a low island.” You can read the full article here.

Otter on wolves: Negotiations still on

Here is a statement from Jon Hanian, press secretary for Gov. Butch Otter, on the wolf de-listing negotiations between Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior:

“The Governor was encouraged to hear that Secretary Salazar continues to  share our belief that wolves are recovered and should be delisted in the northern Rocky Mountains. However the Governor expressed concerns over the latest legislative language proposed by the Secretary of the Interior on Monday. The State of Idaho received and responded to an inquiry from the US Fish and Wildlife Service Tuesday morning. And at this point in time, the Governor is waiting to hear back from the Secretary.”

No comment yet from Otter on wolf de-listing impasse

There’s no comment yet from Idaho Gov. Butch Otter on the report from Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer about wolf de-listing talks going bad; Otter is in Las Vegas for a Western Governors Association meeting, and that’s where he participated in yesterday’s 6 p.m. conference call between Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the governors of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Otter’s press secretary, Jon Hanian, said the conference call was a follow-up and another one took place on Dec. 2 involving the same parties; that was a follow-up to their in-person meeting in Denver on Nov. 29, to which the governors were summoned by the interior secretary.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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