Creating the world's first cloned mule was hardly a simple process, but one of the University of Idaho scientists behind the effort, Dirk Vanderwall, is well-practiced in providing clear explanations for complicated questions. He wasn't much help, though, to the seventh-grader who asked: Do clones have souls?
Over the past few months, about 100 people across North Idaho have been meeting to do something about climate change and, they hope, help prevent a global catastrophe. The consequences of global warming won't be solved from Sandpoint or Coeur d'Alene, but members of the Climate Change Action Network say there's no way the problem will be dealt with unless every community in the United States pitches in.
Torrential rains in November left some mountain roads east of Sandpoint so heavily damaged that U.S. Forest Service crews are having trouble reaching the areas to assess the problem. Mountain bikes have been the vehicle of choice to access the washed-out roads, where some ruts are deep enough to swallow entire pickup trucks.
For the West, spring snowpack is often compared to money in the bank. If that's the case, the past few months have been quite the spending spree. The Inland Northwest winter started with a saturation of rain and snow. Portions of the Idaho Panhandle that had nearly 250 percent of an average year's precipitation at the beginning of winter are now below normal, prompting concerns of a dry, possibly smoky summer.
The Sunshine Mine plans to reopen late this year, but a legal storm cloud continues to hang over the famed North Idaho silver mine. The increasingly bitter dispute between the mine's parent company and former investor James Christianson now includes allegations ranging from a threat to blow up a home to racketeering to money diverted for Italian suits. Apart from the lawsuit, a federal grand jury is now believed to be looking into the matter.
E-mail messages between a top Kootenai County lawyer and the women he is accused of harassing should not be kept secret, according to Idaho 2nd District Judge John R. Stegner. But the hundreds of messages involving former Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rick Baughman will not be made public anytime soon. After a two-hour court hearing Wednesday in Coeur d'Alene, Stegner said he would wait to issue a formal ruling until the Idaho Supreme Court acts on a similar case.
A Pinehurst, Idaho, woman and her 40-year-old son pleaded guilty Thursday to attempting to hire a hit man to murder a girl that the son had allegedly raped. The son, William Caldwell, now faces two life sentences in prison. His mother, 57-year-old Myra Caldwell, could serve up to 15 years.
Housing assistance is coming soon for the real snowbirds of North Idaho. Ducks Unlimited, along with several other conservation groups and landowners, have cobbled together $8.5 million worth of federal grants and donated land to ensure waterfowl have enough places to land, nest and paddle in the increasingly developed Sandpoint area.
Green grass might bring golfing and gardening to mind, but ski resorts say it's still plenty white up high. Although Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park will close at noon Sunday, other Inland Northwest slopes plan to remain open until Easter, which is April 8.
BONNERS FERRY, Idaho – Iced tea, coffee and even bathwater stank like campfire smoke after a 2003 fire burned the creek valley that has supplied this town's drinking water for 80 years. The air was so dry and forests so thick that the fire was largely unstoppable, said Ranotta McNair, supervisor of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. The fire burned through the night and headed downhill toward town, stopped only by a dramatic change in the weather.
MULLAN, Idaho – In the 1970s, the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River was frothy with poisoned mine wastewater. Blood vessels of some Silver Valley children flowed with the highest lead levels ever recorded in the United States – high enough to cause dementia and mental retardation. The mountainsides were unfit for trees. Today, thanks in part to a $450 million federal cleanup, blood lead levels are safe again, trout swim in the South Fork again and the slopes are covered with forests.
Call it the perfect green storm, except without a storm. Notre Dame was in town. So were scores of green-wearing Oregon Ducks fans. The grass was green. Even the river flowed with emerald-hued snowmelt.
Coeur d'Alene Police are investigating death threats against a part-time North Idaho College English instructor who made disparaging remarks against Republicans, including a facetious suggestion that Republicans be put to death. The part-time instructor, Jessica Bryan, said she made the comments in an English composition class in an effort to spur debate and get students to think critically. One of her students, however, dropped out of the course, demanded a refund from the college, and in a guest column published Sunday in the Coeur d'Alene Press accused Bryan of spreading hate.
Alejandro Guitierrez's last memory on the night of Dec. 29 was leaving a downtown Coeur d'Alene bar. Minutes later, he was unconscious, lying on his back and being kicked in the head by steel-toed boots.
After being shot by a deputy Wednesday morning, a recent transplant from California hopped into his pickup – with a U-Haul car-towing trailer still hooked to the hitch – and led police on a chase that ended near Kellogg. Victor Leon Jr., 30, was arrested after the 40-minute chase and treated for a gunshot wound to his chest, according to a statement issued by Kootenai County Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger. Leon also was hit by two beanbag rounds before police took him into custody.
Grass and wheat farmers fumed Tuesday when they learned details of how past efforts by Idaho lawmakers to protect field burning backfired and ended up dooming the practice. The growers weren't any happier when they were told by the state's top agriculture and environment officials there was little chance of overturning the January ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling ended the practice of burning crop residue on fields outside Indian reservations in Idaho.
Twenty years ago, in the wake of the world's greatest chemical plant catastrophe in Bhopal, India, a law was passed by Congress requiring every community to develop, update and make public plans for action in cases of chemical or hazardous spills. In recent weeks, hundreds of journalists and volunteers from across the nation asked to see their community's Comprehensive Emergency Response Plans, as they are known. More than a third of these requests were denied, including in Kootenai County, where a county official said releasing the information would put the community at risk of terrorism.
Bonner County commissioners unanimously agreed Tuesday to purchase the U.S. Federal Building in Sandpoint. The Forest Service owns the entire three-story, 39,000-square-foot structure but occupies only the first floor, thanks to years of downsizing and administrative restructuring.
Security was on hand but wasn't needed Thursday at a public hearing to gather opinions about changing the protection status of Rocky Mountain wolves. Organizers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had taken precautions in case the meeting became unruly. As it turned out, dozens of speakers calmly approached the microphone and gave comments, with only minimal guffawing from audience members.
Although inspectors found petroleum-saturated soil and crushed 55-gallon storage barrels buried at a suspected waste dump north of Hayden recently, the groundwater deep below the site is still believed to be safe for drinking. "Based on the information we have right now, it appears unlikely there would be any impacts to groundwater," said Marc Kalbaugh, site remediation manager for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. "If DEQ believed there was an imminent threat, we certainly would make the public aware."
Wolves might have a dangerous reputation, but it's the people who love or hate them who seem to be causing anxiety for the federal officials organizing a public hearing today in Spokane Valley on the fate of wolves in the Interior West. "We have hired extra security," said Tom Buckley, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Soil samples from a suspected illegal waste dump above the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer north of Hayden show traces of petroleum and other unspecified pollutants, according test results revealed Tuesday by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. The agency launched an investigation at 1034 E. Chilco Road after being tipped off last month by two truck drivers who claimed to have hauled dozens of loads of sludge and oil-tainted dirt to the property, where it was then dumped.
Unlike most scientists, Coeur d'Alene climatologist Cliff Harris believes snowshoes will be more useful than sunscreen in coming decades. Yes, the climate is changing, Harris says. But he doesn't believe the planet is being transformed by manmade pollution. He also thinks an ice age is coming, not widespread warming.
Although a wolf attack left two dogs dead and another injured Sunday in the St. Joe River backcountry near Avery, Idaho, experts say such encounters are rare and should not deter people from visiting public lands. Jamie Parker said he was hunting cougars with his Plott hounds about a mile east of town when the attack took place. The dogs were trailing a scent far ahead of Barker when they stopped barking.