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In brief: Caribou buffer zone in Selkirks expanded

The area in the Idaho Selkirk Mountains closed to snowmobiling to protect endangered woodland caribou has been expanded by a court ruling handed down on Monday.

A 2.6-mile swath along the Selkirk Crest in the Trapper Burn area was closed to motorized travel on Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Whaley, according to a closure order signed by Idaho Panhandle National Forests Supervisor Ranotta McNair.

The buffer zone includes 1.25 miles on each side of the crest above state lands north of Upper Priest Lake, the order said. The closure is intended to help protect a caribou corridor high in the mountains.

Updated winter motorized travel maps of the Trapper Peak Burn area on the Priest Lake and Bonners Ferry ranger districts will be available at Idaho Panhandle National Forests business offices and at starting today, officials said.

The rest of the Trapper Burn area will close to motorized travel on the normal schedule, April 1 to June 30.

– Rich Landers


Court rules against development foes

Spokane County commissioners correctly removed conditions their hearing examiner added to a 52-acre residential development at 29th Avenue and Havana Street, the Washington Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

A three-judge appellate panel agreed with commissioners and Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza that the conditions weren’t supported by formal findings or by evidence.

It was the second appeal lost by Citizens for Responsible Development, a neighborhood group opposed to the planned unit development by developer Lanzce G. Douglass.

Now the group must pay the county’s and Douglass’ attorney fees, the Court of Appeals ruled.

Citizens for Responsible Development first appealed a county Building and Planning Department decision that the project would have no significant environmental effects.

That appeal, to a hearing examiner, resulted in more conditions on the project.

Then Douglass appealed to county commissioners, who affirmed one condition, modified another and removed five of them. After that, the neighborhood group appealed to Superior Court and then to the Court of Appeals.

Requirements thrown out by county commissioners included additional wetland study, more storm water mitigation, protections for a “hypothetical” shallow aquifer wells, and two forms of added traffic analysis.

Douglass’ plan called for 161 single-family homes and 99 apartment units in two buildings.

– John Craig


Bill would restrict teens’ passengers

Just minutes after lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday afternoon to prohibit new teen drivers from carrying more than one teenage passenger, the last of five Idaho teenagers died from injuries sustained when their vehicle plunged into a Gem County pond.

The youths ranged in age from 12 to 15.

The car, driven by a 15-year-old, slid off icy state Highway 52 north of Emmett into a pond near Black Canyon Dam on Tuesday morning, according to the Associated Press.

Drivers may be licensed at 15 in Idaho, with some restrictions. The proposed legislation would limit teen drivers to carrying one other teen younger than 17 for six months after receiving a license, but it exempts family members.

– Parker Howell