Salvage logging can continue on portions of the Blue Mountains burned in the 2005 School fire, but a federal appeals court ruled Monday that no large, living trees may be cut. Environmentalists sued last year to stop logging on about 9,000 acres of charred Umatilla National Forest. A federal court denied their petition, which was then appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court upheld most of the ruling, except for the portion on logging large trees.
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is investigating reports of an illegal waste dump near Chilco, Idaho, that might pose a threat to the region's drinking water. The agency was tipped off Tuesday when it received sworn statements from two truck drivers who claim they hauled dozens of dump-truck loads of suspected toxic materials to the site in February 2006. The drivers claim the material included 55-gallon drums of a dark, oily substance that was later buried at the site.
Noxious fumes in NorthTown mall sent at least 36 people to the hospital Sunday afternoon and prompted a massive evacuation. None of the injuries was believed to be life-threatening. According to a statement from Spokane police, many of the complaints involved eye, nose and throat irritation, as first reported on spokesmanreview.com.The shopping center is expected to reopen today.
Longtime newspaper publisher John Deen appreciated the importance of accuracy. He might have approved of the unflinchingly honest tributes at his wake Sunday in Spokane. Yes, Deen left a huge mark on human rights causes in Spokane, according to friends who attended the event at Dempsey's Brass Rail bar. He's considered the father of a city law that prohibits discrimination based on anything from age to sexual orientation. But Deen could also be cranky, calculating and relentless.
The aquifer supplying water to communities on the West Plains area west of Spokane is being pumped faster than it can replenish itself, raising the prospect of a water shortage. In some places, the groundwater level has dropped by as much as 100 feet in recent years, according to the Washington Department of Ecology.
Dozens of firefighters from across the West, including a grandmother from the Idaho Panhandle, are flying to Australia today to help fight a series of massive wildfires. Federal fire managers say they had no problems finding volunteers for the mission. Not only are firefighters eager to escape the cold, but they are also happy to repay a longtime friend – Australia has sent its firefighters to the American West during three of the past six fire seasons, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.
An estimated 20,000 gallons of sewage effluent has been spilled on Lake Coeur d'Alene's Arrow Point over the past week, according to a statement issued by the Arrow Point Community Association. The spill took place about 200 feet from the lakeshore. It's unknown if any of the sewage made it to the lake, said John Tindall, with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. The state is investigating and has taken a water sample, though the results are not yet back from the lab.
LeRoy Lee, hailed as a "giant" by conservationists for his work in exposing the overcutting of federal forests, died Wednesday morning at his home in Santa, Idaho. He was 50 and is believed to have died of a heart attack, friends said. Although Lee once testified before the Congress and uncovered what many in the conservation community say was one of the biggest environmental scandals in recent Inland Northwest history, he lived a simple, private life and focused most of his energy for the last decade on teaching science classes in the St. Maries School District.
With just a bit more warmth, streets and sidewalks across the area will turn to brown slush. Apart from melted snow, this city juice is loaded with everything from asbestos brake dust to motor oil to dog poop. Much of it will drain straight into the Spokane River.
For the first time in at least seven years – some believe 16 years – ice is capping large expanses of Hayden Lake. Larger lakes such as Pend Oreille and Coeur d'Alene remain mostly open water, though. With the cold snap coming to an end, longtime observers say it's doubtful either one will freeze over this season.
The state of Idaho has rejected a request by a lakeshore homeowner to extend a dock from Coeur d'Alene's Sanders Beach. Installing such a dock in a widely used swimming area would endanger the swimmers, according to the seven-page ruling signed Friday by Nick Krema, deputy Idaho attorney general.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth, who began his 41-year career with the agency in North Idaho's St. Joe River backcountry, announced his retirement Friday. Bosworth will be replaced by Gail Kimbell, another longtime agency employee with deep ties to the Inland Northwest. Kimbell is currently the Missoula-based regional forester in charge of North Idaho, Montana and the Dakotas. From 1985 to 1988, she worked in Washington as ranger of the Kettle Falls district of the Colville National Forest.
Howling has been heard. Massive, fist-sized paw prints are regularly spotted in the snowy backcountry of northeastern Washington. The signs are clear, according to federal and state scientists: Wolves are returning to Washington. Although there's no evidence a full-fledged pack has set up housekeeping in the state, experts say it's just a matter of time.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has tightened its management protocol for Libby Dam in northwest Montana. The change comes six months after widespread flooding downstream from the dam near Bonners Ferry, Idaho. The corps said the flooding might have been avoided had the dam been operated in strict accordance with a program known as variable discharge.
The waters of the Spokane River are some of the most toxic in Washington. Some of the trouble spills out of old mine sites in the river's headwaters in Idaho's Silver Valley. But scientists haven't yet found the source of all the heavy concentrations of flame retardants and long-banned industrial compounds that show up in Spokane River fish.
For the past four years, a mix of loggers, environmentalists and business leaders have been getting together in northeastern Washington to find an agreeable way of managing the Colville National Forest. Before then, the 1.1 million-acre forest was in a virtual lockdown, thanks to lawsuits filed by environmentalists, who felt the public land was being managed sloppily and that their concerns weren't being heard. Although minor squabbles persist, there hasn't been a lawsuit filed since the coalition started meeting. If anything, members of the group now agree the U.S. Forest Service should be doing more to manage the land, not less.
Aging Marines are planning to make another push to rename Coeur d'Alene Airport after the storied World War II fighter ace and North Idaho native Gregory "Pappy" Boyington. Despite widespread support for the change among veterans, Kootenai County officials ignored a request last summer to add the aviator's name to the county-owned airport, which serves mostly private pilots and a summertime fleet of firefighting aircraft. The inaction infuriated many veterans and has attracted some national attention, including from the Distinguished Flying Cross Society and news pundit Oliver North.
Nature's versions of fighter jets are staging dramatic air shows these days above the waters of Lake Coeur d'Alene. The bald eagles fly through every year about this time to feast on dying kokanee salmon.
Although the federal government has admitted it could have done more to prevent June flooding of the dam-controlled Kootenai River near Bonners Ferry, a county request for emergency relief funds has been denied. County officials also say they are being rebuffed in their quest to lower the official flood stage level to help prevent future damage.
MOSCOW, Idaho – They're green, eel-like and incredibly difficult to raise in captivity, but Kootenai River burbot are now successfully spawning in plastic tanks at the University of Idaho. The tasty, freshwater codfish once sustained the Kootenai Tribe through the coldest months of winter, but fewer than 40 wild burbot are believed to be in the river today. In a desperate move to keep the fish from vanishing – and until the politically sticky questions can be addressed about why the fish are in trouble in the first place – the tribe is placing its hopes on setting up a hatchery.
The increasingly loud roar coming from the national forest of far northern Idaho isn't from a chain saw. It's the sound of complaining from community leaders and Forest Service officials frustrated over what they say are the tactics of environmental groups that have succeeded in delaying or completely derailing a string of timber sales. Although they lost a court scrimmage Monday, groups including the Spokane-based Lands Council have managed to stall two major projects in recent months – projects they claim would irreparably harm a national forest that's just starting to recover after decades of heavy logging.
Smoke appears to be descending again over the annual meeting between Idaho grass growers and the government officials charged with regulating smoke from field burning. A clean air group that was denied access to last year's year-end meeting – and sued the state – has again been told the meeting is private. This year's meeting is also being held on the Nez Perce Reservation, where state open meeting laws don't reign supreme, said Karen Lindholdt, a Spokane attorney representing the clean air group, Safe Air For Everyone.
A registered sex offender who recently moved to Coeur d'Alene from Minnesota was charged Tuesday with felony lewd conduct with a minor and felonious administration of drugs. Scott J. Bailey, 34, is accused of using an anesthetic to drug the young girl. Bailey told investigators he obtained the chemical halothane while working in an ophthalmologist's office several years ago.
Heavy snow sent about 200 vehicles sliding off roads across the Inland Northwest on Sunday. The storms might have passed, but the slick driving conditions could remain for days. Temperatures were plunging rapidly after the storm passed Sunday night – record subzero temperatures could be here by early Wednesday – prompting concerns that the rain and snow could freeze rock hard.