Tiny, fluttering signs of a weak winter's early crash are appearing: Moths are showing up for streetlight dances, mosquitoes are marshaling on metal screens, yellow jackets and bees are sampling the season's first flowers, and bloody splotches are already popping up on car windshields. "Yes, it's a very early year," said Richard S. Zack, associate professor of entomology at Washington State University. "If it stays this mild, this could be a bad year for many types of insects."
OLDTOWN, Idaho – The state of Idaho is poised to approve a cleanup plan for a contaminated poleyard here. Comments are being gathered and a public hearing is planned Wednesday night. A group of local residents who have been pushing for the cleanup for more than four years are furious.
Operations at BNSF Railway's refueling depot near Rathdrum, Idaho, will likely remain suspended for another week following a postponement of a court hearing Wednesday. Last week, a Kootenai County judge ordered the depot to suspend refueling operations until leaks at the facility are identified and fixed. A hearing on the fate of the emergency closure order was scheduled for Wednesday, but the railroad asked the court to delay the proceedings for a week.
Spilling a bit more water into the Spokane River to help trout is perfectly acceptable to Kristy Reed Johnson, who lives in a gated community along the river upstream from the Post Falls dam. More water in the river, however, might make it difficult for Johnson and other riverside homeowners to use their docks.
Freight trains were backed up for miles Thursday during the final hours of refueling operations at BNSF Railway's depot in Hauser, Idaho. Because of fuel leaks at the facility, the depot was under court order to cease all refueling by midafternoon. "There's trains stopped clear down as far as Argonne Road," roughly 10 miles from the depot, said Hauser resident Wes Michael.
A Kootenai County judge on Wednesday ordered BNSF Railway Co. to clear the tracks at its refueling depot in Hauser, Idaho, within 24 hours. The emergency closure order for the leak-plagued depot was signed about 3 p.m. by 1st District Judge Charles Hosack, who ruled that public health concerns outweighed a potential slowdown to interstate commerce.
Citing an "immediate and substantial danger to public health and the environment," the state of Idaho sought an emergency court order Tuesday to shut down BNSF Railway's refueling depot in Hauser, Idaho. The lawsuit was filed just two hours after railroad executives met with state leaders in Boise to insist the repeated fuel leaks at the depot did not pose a threat to the region's sole-source aquifer. The executives apologized for the latest leak, detected nine days ago, and asked the state to not meddle with ongoing refueling operations at the six-month-old depot.
The federal government may have cause to get involved in the dispute over closing the BNSF Railway Co. fuel depot if local and state officials aren't satisfied, Sen. Patty Murray said Monday. There are federal issues, such as an aquifer that spans two states, questions of interstate commerce and the federal Railroad Act, said Murray, who added her staff is monitoring the controversy over the refueling depot on the Rathdrum Prairie.
Polite requests have not been enough to temporarily stop refueling operations at the leaking BNSF Railway depot in Hauser, Idaho. Attorneys for the state of Idaho and Kootenai County spent Friday gathering legal ammunition to stop the railroad. Courtroom action could begin early next week.
HAUSER, Idaho – BNSF Railway Co. continues to operate its high-speed locomotive refueling depot despite mounting pressure to close the leak-plagued facility. A coalition of Idaho lawmakers joined Kootenai County commissioners Wednesday in demanding the railroad suspend all fueling operations at its six-month-old depot over the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum aquifer.
The world is getting warmer, but the problem isn't as severe as many scientists claim, said noted climatologist and author Patrick J. Michaels in a speech Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Inland Empire Reforestation Council in Coeur d'Alene. Michaels, a professor at the University of Virginia, is a contributing author and reviewer of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He's critical of the group's 2001 report that shows a sharp spike in global temperatures, which was used to promote programs, including the Kyoto protocol, aimed at curbing greenhouse gases. The panel includes dozens of the world's leading scientists, a majority of whom have endorsed the report.
Another fuel leak has been detected at the Hauser, Idaho, railroad refueling depot operated by Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Co. The company has shut down one of its three high-speed locomotive refueling stations, and Kootenai County commissioners now say they want the entire facility closed until further notice.
Despite almost unanimous support, a program that has pumped more than $1 billion into rural schools and highways may be running out of time. Last week, the Bush administration's top forestry official declined to endorse reauthorization of the so-called Craig-Wyden program – named after its sponsors, Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. – which was instituted five years ago to rescue rural areas from the economic doldrums following the collapse of the federal timber harvest.
Cleanup of creosote-soaked soil in St. Maries could cost between $4 million and $67 million, according to an estimate from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Officials in the city of 2,600 worry it could be stuck with a portion of the bill because the company accused of causing the contamination, Cook Cedar, has long been out of business, said Mayor Robert Allen. St. Maries has already spent more than $300,000 on legal fees and preliminary cleanup work since an oily sheen was found floating on the St. Joe River in front of the site in 1998.
BAYVIEW, Idaho – The distant sound of gunfire has echoed over this Pend Oreille lakeshore community since World War II, when young sailors practiced shooting skills at nearby Farragut Naval Training Center. A planned expansion at the shooting range – now a public facility run by the state – has prompted sharp protests from neighbors. The occasional pop-pop-popping from weekend plinkers could start sounding like a battlefield under the state's plan, said Sheryl Puckett, a Bayview resident who has helped circulate petitions against the expansion.
The vocabulary of war is often used to describe relations between the U.S. Forest Service and environmental groups that skirmish with the agency in court. But both sides have been waving white flags in recent months.
An Idaho Transportation Department plan to begin unclogging some of the sediment from the Mica Creek watershed has been approved by the state's Department of Environmental Quality. Transportation Department spokeswoman Barbara Babic said work will begin later this year to stabilize the lower 900 feet of Mica Creek, as well as to restore nearby wetlands. The department will spend $25,190 on the project, which is expected to take place in late summer to minimize harm on aquatic life.
A mature bald eagle was found shot dead and hanging from a tree Monday in a farmer's field near Sprague, Wash., said Tom Buckley, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The eagle is now in an evidence locker in Spokane, and special agents from the Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the crime, which is a federal offense.
Skiers might be crying, but the warm weather has golfers pinching themselves in disbelief. At least six golf courses across the region opened in recent days. Dave Lowe, owner of Highlands Golf Club, in Post Falls, said he's never had such an early season in his 26 years of experience.
Railroad executives heaped assurances and apologies on Kootenai County commissioners Friday morning during a special meeting focused on the recent wastewater and diesel spill over the Rathdrum-Spokane Valley aquifer. "We feel terrible about it. I feel personally terrible about it," said Mark Stehly, Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co.'s assistant vice president for environment and research development. "The full resources of the company are at our disposal to make it right. … We will make it right."
CATALDO, Idaho – Like many other rivers across the region, the Coeur d'Alene broke a daily flow record Wednesday and was roiling with about seven times its usual amount of water for the middle of January. The threat of flooding seems to have passed, but concern is now shifting to the dry terrain left behind by the near-record-breaking warm weather. Snowpack was low before the warm-up – about 60 to 70 percent of normal in much of the Inland Northwest, said Rick Patten, a hydrologist with the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.
A day after the bodies of two Gonzaga University students were recovered from a deadly avalanche near Mullan, Idaho, a regional avalanche warning center had clear advice for those considering a winter adventure in the region's rain-sodden backcountry. "Stay home!" was the message posted on the Web site for the U.S. Forest Service's Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center.
The recent death of a Coeur d'Alene toddler has been ruled a homicide and a $200,000 arrest warrant was issued Tuesday afternoon for the victim's fugitive father, Barry L. McAdoo, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office. McAdoo, 30, was last seen Friday shortly before the toddler's mother, Angela Cowles, called 911 to report her son's injuries. The woman initially said her son, 15-month-old Brandon McAdoo, had fallen on ice. But she later said the boy's father may have hurt Brandon while trying to retrieve a piece of plastic-coated paper from the boy's mouth.
MULLAN, Idaho – Two Gonzaga University students were killed in a massive avalanche Sunday afternoon while snowboarding and skiing on a steep backcountry slope near the Montana-Idaho border. A third member of the group survived the slide and spent the remaining daylight hours fruitlessly trying to locate his buried friends before hiking out and calling authorities from a home at the base of the slope.