In a twist to the usual argument of electricity production vs. the environment, Inland Northwest tribes are opposing a salmon-saving proposal that calls for spilling more water down the Columbia River. Although the Colville, Spokane and Kootenai tribes once depended on wild salmon, the tribes worry that saving the fish in the modern era of dams could result in problems, including ancestral grave desecration and the stirring of toxic mining sediments on the bottom of reservoirs.
SMELTERVILLE, Idaho – Don Rumpel's house in Idaho's Silver Valley is strung with 2,500 Christmas lights. But even when he has them on 24 hours a day, Rumpel says he barely notices a twitch in his monthly power bill. The lights don't have the usual wire filament. Their glow comes from the excited dance of millions of tiny electrons.
From forest management to fish-counting and federal mining law reform, Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig is at the heart of the latest and greatest political dustups of the West. The four-term senator was in Coeur d'Alene on Thursday to meet with timber industry leaders at a meeting of the Intermountain Forest Association. During a lunchtime speech, he offered his take on the issues.
A small group of Rathdrum residents is racing to save the town's mountainous backdrop. The group hopes to raise enough money by July to buy 280 acres of cutover timberland on the east face of Rathdrum Mountain, said John Sylte, a software company worker and longtime Rathdrum resident who is helping to organize the effort.
Body shop owner Scott Shawver walked through his packed impound yard Friday pointing out casualties from the region's skating rink-slick streets. Sideswiped Jeep Grand Cherokee. Damage estimate: $4,000.
A recent proposal by British Columbia to abandon recovery efforts for the most imperiled mountain caribou herds, including the last herd roaming Idaho's border with the province, has prompted widespread outrage in both Canada and the United States, said Pat Field, a management consultant with the province's Species at Risk Coordination Office. But Field said this "rage factor" could actually prompt politicians to take action. Unless tough decisions are made quickly, "We are going to be the generation of the lost," he said.
For area law enforcement, Monday might have been just a warm-up for today. Though less than an inch of snow fell across Eastern Washington and North Idaho, accidents were scattered around the region, particularly in the Spokane Valley.
In a makeshift cafeteria in the heart of the city, Rita Seaman fondly recalled Thanksgivings past: The turkeys. The pies. The throngs of family members who filled her home. "All my brothers are gone; all my sisters are gone," said Seaman, a 92-year-old widow. "But I'm going to be around for a lot more." Seaman was one of hundreds of elderly residents served by Spokane County's Meals on Wheels programs on Thanksgiving Day. The two agencies – one located downtown and the other in Spokane Valley – served 200,000 meals last year to seniors living at home.
After suffering a stroke and a broken hip, Nanette Bagley didn't think it would be such a good idea to drive, but she hasn't been out of her Post Falls apartment for weeks and she couldn't bear the thought of a Thanksgiving alone with her cat. Enter Janie DeLauri, one of a small army of volunteers who make sure no one in the area is denied a proper turkey dinner. DeLauri drove to Bagley's apartment Thursday morning and chauffeured her to Coeur d'Alene for the annual free community meal at the Lake City Senior Center.
POMEROY, Wash. – The wildfire was hot enough to make portions of the forest floor as sterile as the face of the moon, but in other areas, green grass already is bursting through the ash. Less than three months after the 52,000-acre School fire was extinguished, the forest's slow rebirth has begun. But a proposal to salvage some of the burned timber has prompted new heat.
TROY, Mont. – Take a couple dozen poets, some in fishnet stockings, a few others wearing faces jutting with metal piercings. Add an armload of bearded loggers and maybe a couple of disgruntled whisky drinkers. Throw them all together in a tiny bar in a tiny northwest Montana town on a rainy November night. Things can get downright interesting when poetry salon and saloon mix, as they've done here at the Club Bar for nearly 15 years.
Loggers still wear flannel, but many more also sport some gray. A study being conducted by the University of Idaho shows that nearly two-thirds of all loggers in the Inland Northwest are 40 years or older.
The Inland Northwest might be a comfortable distance from the recent Gulf Coast hurricane disaster, but some wildfire experts from the region got a bit nervous watching the televised scenes of chaos. The forests here have a long history of big burns. When the next one happens, evacuating the many new residents from rural subdivisions and protecting their high-dollar dwellings could be nearly impossible for firefighters, according to experts who met this week at the Inland Northwest Wildland Urban Interface conference in Worley, Idaho.
An estimated 144,000 gallons of raw sewage leaked into the region's drinking water aquifer late Wednesday after an underground sewer line ruptured in Hayden, Idaho The sewage poses no immediate threat to nearby drinking water wells, but as the plume spreads it could endanger at least one well about 500 feet downstream, said John Tindall, with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.
Threatened Canada lynx once stalked vast tracts of Inland Northwest boreal forest, but only one square mile of the threatened cat's habitat in far eastern Washington and North Idaho will be given special protection under a federal proposal announced Wednesday. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said lynx already receive protection on federal land, but conservationists say the relatively small amount of lynx habitat up for critical habitat designation has little to do with science and everything to do with politics.
It's a remote possibility, but federal authorities may close or restrict the duck-hunting season in response to bird flu. Experts say it's a long shot that British Columbia ducks infected with a form of the H5 avian flu virus are carrying the same strain that's wreaked havoc in Southeast Asia.
These rains are gently tap-tapping the last nails into the coffin of fire season 2005, which turned out to be one of the most placid on record for the region. Despite the record-low snowpack and lingering drought, very few acres burned in the Inland Northwest. Only 46 acres were charred out of the total 2.5 million-acre Idaho Panhandle National Forests. Since the late 1960s, an average of about 700 acres of federal forest in North Idaho burns every year, said Forest Service spokesman Dave O'Brien.
British Columbia is considering abandoning recovery efforts for some smaller herds of caribou, including five of the most imperiled herds that roam mountainous backcountry along Canada's border with Washington, Idaho and Montana, according to an early version of a government proposal. Caribou advocates expressed outrage and warned that if protections are pulled away from the herds in Canada, it would be akin to signing a death warrant for the estimated three mountain caribou remaining in Idaho.
Not only did a Kootenai County woman threaten a judge, but she also left a lengthy, rambling, insulting threat in the judge's telephone voice mail, according to a copy of a Coeur d'Alene police report. The woman called the judge a number of things including "sick and twisted," the report states. "Get the potatoes out of your head," she allegedly said.
Federal climate scientists seem to think we're heading into another mild winter. Although the analysts haven't been able to pin down a long-term snow forecast – it could go either way, the computer models say – the temperatures are expected to be slightly warmer than normal. The secret formula used by The Old Farmer's Almanac also predicts a warm winter.