Eight years after Washington voters banned the practice, hunters have again been granted permission to pursue cougars using hounds. Friday's unanimous decision by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission applies only to Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties. The hills and forests of northeastern Washington have experienced the highest amount of livestock depredation and human run-ins with cougars.
More than 23,000 acres of private timberland above the St. Joe River, including an ancient cedar grove, will forever be open to public use and protected against private development, according to an agreement announced Wednesday between Potlatch Corp. and the Trust for Public Land. The $4.4 million conservation easement aims to protect the region's timber economy – Potlatch or any future owners will be allowed to cut trees – while also ensuring the forest will never be subdivided for vacation homes, RV parks or fancy fishing lodges.
EDMONTON, Alberta – Global climate change is spurring some timber companies to become tree huggers. Millions of dollars are pouring into projects to create "carbon belts" of new forests on farmland and prairie in Canada, Australia and South America.
EDMONTON, Alberta – Forests often seem to be greener on the other side of the fence. At least that's the view taken by many of the 1,500 foresters from the United States and Canada attending a once-in-a-decade joint gathering this week of the two nations' forestry professionals.
KELLOGG -- The quest to create something beautiful didn't motivate Marvin Lake to pick up the rusty rail spikes littering the gravel road near his weekend trailer along the St. Joe River. Lake, the son of a logger, knew what the sharp sticks of iron could do to the tires of log trucks. He and his wife, Janet, do a lot of walking on the abandoned Milwaukee Road line, and they eventually amassed small piles of the old rail spikes.
North Idaho's first heart program has surpassed national success rates in its inaugural year, but many patients from Idaho's five northernmost counties continue to travel to Spokane for open heart surgery or catheterization procedures. Short of hanging a "We're safe, really!" banner from the North Idaho Heart Center's new $9.6 million, three-story building at the Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d'Alene, an effort is under way to persuade patients to stay close to home for heart procedures.
PRIEST LAKE, Idaho – Mushroom expert Michael Beug led an expedition into the damp forest near Priest Lake Saturday morning, pointing out the visible fruits from a mysterious subterranean world. There were baseball-size specimens smelling of almonds, wet logs covered with slimy "witches' butter," peculiar mushrooms dripping with white liquid when cut, prized white matsutake mushrooms worth $100 per pound in Japan and clusters of buttons tasting of fried chicken.
The prospects for new wilderness in Idaho and Washington appear to be fading on the 40th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. A proposal to designate the Wild Sky Wilderness in the Cascade Range northeast of Seattle withered Wednesday in Congress.
BONNERS FERRY, Idaho – The beds are made and lunch is nearly fixed. The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho is ready for their fish to come home again. For the past three years, the tribe has been involved in an ambitious project to restore native kokanee salmon to the Kootenai River system.
The federal government unveiled a dramatically downsized critical habitat designation plan for bull trout Wednesday, saying the threatened fish receive enough protection in many areas of the Inland Northwest through existing state programs and voluntary conservation agreements. Two years ago, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists proposed designating about 18,000 miles of streams and nearly 500,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs in the region as critical habitat for the fish.
Accused child rapist Benjamin N. Wright, 25, made his initial appearance Monday afternoon in Kootenai County District Court. An unidentified woman in the small courtroom sobbed and gasped for air as Wright's face appeared on a closed-circuit television in the courtroom. Wright offered no statement and his face showed no emotion after Judge Penny Friedlander told him he faced a possible life sentence for the felony rape charge.
An unidentified species of milfoil is now infesting hundreds of acres in the southern end of Lake Coeur d'Alene, according to a scientist with the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. Although the plant resembles Eurasian milfoil – an invasive species that ruins fish habitat, tangles propellers and robs water of precious oxygen – a positive identification has not yet been established, said Robert Matt, director of the tribe's lake management program. Specimens have been sent to the University of Connecticut for genetic testing.
A $350,000 federal grant will help scientists from the University of Idaho explore modern logging's impact on the land. Research already is under way on a plot of private land in the Mica Creek watershed near St. Maries, said Tim Link, assistant professor of forest hydrology at the university's College of Natural Resources. The grant will allow the research to be expanded to include more of a focus on stream flow and ecology.
A recent court decision focused on an isolated North Idaho river drainage is having ripple effects across the West. Environmentalist groups are buzzing with excitement about the so-called Iron Honey decision, saying the Aug. 13 ruling sets a new gold standard for protecting public lands. Barry Rosenberg, director of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance, one of the four groups that filed the lawsuit, called it "the most far-reaching and comprehensive decision we have ever seen. Most of the conservationists in the country are aware of this ruling. It has the potential to change things everywhere in the Northwest."
Bonner County commissioners agreed this week to form a taxing district to pay for a countywide ambulance system. The county's previous ambulance provider, Big Sky Paramedics, cited a lack of financial support and rising health care costs when it began cutting services earlier this summer.
When Andrea Brunk was 8, she was diagnosed with leukemia. About halfway through her 18-month course of treatment, she discovered a closet in an out-of-the-way corner at the hospital where toys were kept. The toys were used as temporary distractions. But they were given with the understanding that when the young patient went home, the toys went back to the closet. Andrea had other ideas. She persuaded a hospital employee to let her keep a toy.
A slice of small-town charm and mountain lake scenery will be offered with each of the 535 units of a recently approved housing development in the tiny town of Dover, Idaho. There will be no gates at the Dover Bay project, said developer Ralph Sletegar. In other high-end housing projects, security measures are used in an attempt to re-create the sense of a safe and friendly neighborhood.
WALLACE – The latest generation of all-terrain vehicles makes touring the backcountry almost as easy as driving a golf cart down a fairway. That helps explain why riding ATVs has become one of the nation's fastest-growing pastimes, with double-digit growth expected to continue, according to industry analysts.
WALLACE – The latest generation of all-terrain vehicles makes touring the backcountry almost as easy as driving a golf cart down a fairway. That helps explain why riding the vehicles has become one of the nation's fastest growing pastimes, with double-digit growth expected to continue, according to industry analysts. In the Inland Northwest, many of the new ATV enthusiasts have discovered a riders' paradise in Shoshone County, Idaho, which is crisscrossed by hundreds of miles of old logging and mining roads.
Responding to the growing popularity of shooting sports, the state of Idaho has plans to remodel and expand the Farragut State Park shooting range. The development will occur in phases as grant money becomes available, but state officials say the final result will be one of the premier shooting facilities in the region. A recently completed master plan calls for everything from a trap and skeet shooting area to "action" pistol shooting and a three-dimensional archery course.
The lure of living in a forest was powerful for Jane and Bob Takai. But after the couple bought a large tract of land near Newman Lake 20-some years ago, they quickly became aware that pretty scenery doesn't come easily. Their woods were full of all sorts of unseen perils: root rot, noxious weeds, hungry beetles and thick stands of trees itching for a burn.
RATHDRUM, Idaho – The first locomotive will roll into a new high-speed fueling station on Rathdrum Prairie at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. Within 45 minutes, the train will have taken on more than 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel and should be picking up speed on the mainline tracks, heading for a West Coast port or a Great Plains crossing. The $42 million facility – essentially a massive gas station – will shave up to eight hours off a traditional train pit stop, said officials with the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co.
A color once common throughout the wilds of the Inland Northwest is fading from the scenery: The U.S. Forest Service is no longer painting its trucks pea green. The agency began purchasing only white vehicles about four years ago, but changing the massive fleet has been a slow process. Of the 400-some vehicles used by the Idaho Panhandle National Forests and 200 in the Colville National Forest, about half remain green, officials said, but more are being removed from service each year.
I might have looked idiotic with my Captain America helmet, frogman fins and farmer John wetsuit, but fashion was the least of my concerns as I stood on the banks of the Clark Fork River near Missoula on a recent afternoon. For some strange reason, I had allowed a friend to convince me that it would be good fun to swim the class II and III whitewater of Alberton Gorge using little more than a chunk of foam. Neither one of us talked much about contingencies or consequences before jumping in. "You freaked?" my friend finally asked, staring at the rapids. I didn't answer, but we had one important thing in our favor: Mike Johnston, owner of Montana River Guides and one of the most knowledgeable guides in the country.