In most election years, the Bonner County assessor's race might carry the same political heat as the dog catcher or coroner's race. Not this year. Not with property valuations reaching stratospheric levels and not after the massive tug-of-war over how those values were determined. The race is at the epicenter of a huge property tax fight being waged in Bonner County.
YELLOW DOG CREEK, Idaho – Logging trucks once rumbled up this narrow creek valley 30 miles northeast of Coeur d'Alene. Today, there's not even a trace of road left. The biggest creatures now roaming the banks of Yellow Dog Creek are the pair of moose that have recently taken up residence in the quiet valley.
They have all the time in the world to fish, carve walking sticks or practice golf putts. Instead, 88-year-old Jules Gindraux and his 69-year-old cohort, Jim Rowe, have been spending their time taking on a railroad. The two North Idaho retirees recently collaborated to produce a report focusing on risks posed by earthquakes to the BNSF Railway Co. refueling depot on the Rathdrum Prairie.
The Idaho Fish and Game Department is proposing to boost the Chinook salmon harvest limits on Lake Coeur d'Alene next year in an effort to help the ailing kokanee population. The agency hopes that by reducing the number of Chinook, the smaller kokanee fish will be given a better chance at recovery, according to a statement issued by agency spokesman Phil Cooper.
Kootenai County commissioners shot down a proposal Thursday by a developer who wants to build a town of affordably priced homes across from the Silverwood Theme Park. At the same hearing, however, county leaders backed a plan for another huge development – one with several golf courses and presumably much higher-priced homes – on the opposite end of the county, near Harrison.
Editor's note: This story contains language some readers might find offensive. Members of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe call it the "S word" and are pushing for 13 squaw references to be erased for good from maps of the Inland Northwest.
The fate of a proposed luxury golf community on the southeastern shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene will be decided today by Kootenai County commissioners. If commissioners approve a zoning change for the land above Powderhorn Bay, upward of 1,300 new homes could be built. Much of the land is zoned for agricultural and timber uses, but the developer wants the land classified as rural, which would allow more houses to be built.
Law officers are finding more damage from a string of drive-by shootings Monday night. Police originally believed six shots had hit houses, businesses and cars, but at least five more bullet holes were discovered Wednesday, according to information from the Post Falls Police Department and the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office. There were no reports of injuries caused by the shootings, which are believed to have taken place between 8 and 9 p.m. Monday between Idaho Street and state Highway 41, and Seltice and Mullan roads. Additional damage was found along Greensferry Road between Wyoming and 16th avenues.
A dam nearly as big as Grand Coulee could be built in coming years to store water on Hawk Creek – a tributary of Lake Roosevelt – as part of a plan to bring more water to increasingly parched portions of Washington. The Hawk Creek storage dam in Lincoln County is one of four being considered by state and federal officials. Other sites include Foster Creek in Douglas County and Sand Hollow and Crab Creek, both in Grant County.
Major changes could soon be coming to trails in the national forest near Coeur d'Alene. After months of public meetings and an exhaustive internal analysis of 300 proposals, the U.S. Forest Service provided a first glimpse Thursday night of its vision for an expanded backcountry recreation network. Those who like it quiet could soon get an extra 43 miles of trails under the proposed travel management plan, including several new nonmotorized routes south of the Fourth of July Pass, as well as along the east side of Lake Coeur d'Alene and in the Chilco Mountain area.
About 1,000 acres of mountaintop forest west of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, will be set ablaze Thursday in hopes of slowing the widespread collapse of a high-alpine tree species. Because the whitebark pine trees grow only in the highest, rockiest reaches of the Inland Northwest, only hikers and serious backcountry adventurers tend to encounter them. Fat-laden seeds found in the evergreens' cones have been a critical food source for grizzly bears and some birds.
Tuesday's sneak preview of autumn rain sapped strength from wildfires across the region and raised hopes that many closed hunting and hiking trails could be open again by the weekend. Although the rain showers were spotty – the gauge at Spokane International Airport had less than a tenth of an inch by late Tuesday afternoon – the slow-moving storm dumped more than an inch of rain on portions of the bone-dry forest in North Idaho.
Firefighters are pinning their hopes on Thursday. That's when cool, rainy weather is expected to deliver a knockout punch to several tenacious wildfires that have been burning across the Inland Northwest for nearly a month.
BAYVIEW, Idaho – Few traces remain of the Farragut Naval Training Station. A thick pine forest now grows where, nearly a lifetime ago, hundreds of thousands of young men learned to march, shoot and swim as they prepared for war. Most of the barracks and buildings are gone, but a few of the old sailors remain. They're meeting this weekend for one last time.
BONNERS FERRY, Idaho – In 1968, Jean Plato and her husband bought farmland along the banks of the Kootenai River. Although the river was notorious for its springtime floods, the soil was rich and a massive new dam was being built upstream in Montana. "We thought we'd never be threatened," Plato said.
A fast-moving wildfire forced the evacuation of at least 10 houses Tuesday afternoon eight miles north of Moscow, Idaho. The homes are located in the area of 1330 Cheney Road, near Viola, a small community along U.S. Highway 95 between Potlatch and Moscow, according to Detective Jennifer McFarland, with the Latah County Sheriff's Department.
A remote North Idaho creek valley that's home to some of the most unique gemstones in the world has recently been reopened for public scavenging. The U.S. Forest Service had temporarily closed the Emerald Creek Garnet area to make changes aimed at improving public safety and keeping the water clear for trout.
Dry winds are expected to whip through the Inland Northwest today and tonight. Strong gusts are nothing new for the Inland Northwest, but the incoming weather system and the current scarcity of firefighting resources is prompting comparisons with the conditions that led to massive fires in 1910.
Kootenai County Commission Chairman Gus Johnson moved into the vacant office of the county's building and planning department director Wednesday. County officials have been trying to fill the position for two months, since longtime director Rand Wichman quit to start a private consulting business.
The federal government plans to swap its historic downtown Coeur d'Alene courthouse for a larger, four-story building to be built in an office park near U.S. Highway 95 and Hanley Avenue. A lack of space, parking and security were cited as top reasons for the move. The existing courthouse, a 21,160-square-foot brick landmark, will likely be refitted for commercial office space, though no firm plans have been developed, said Bill Lesh, spokesman for the U.S. General Services Administration.
A plan by the U.S. Forest Service to log 9,400 acres of timber burned last year in southeast Washington is being challenged in federal court by Northwest environmental groups, who claim the work is based on shoddy science and will further damage the charred land. The groups also contend the Forest Service project targets hundreds of healthy, old-growth trees in roadless areas. The fire ignited last August when a tree fell on a power line. Within days, 52,000 acres and 109 houses and structures were burned in the Blue Mountain foothills near Pomeroy, Wash.
Environmentalists worked with business leaders to come up with a plan to clean up the Spokane River. Schoolchildren volunteered thousands of hours to help out at the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. Tribes, farmers and state leaders recently found common ground on managing water in the Columbia River. Such stories were highlighted Wednesday in Spokane during a visit by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, who was in the region to kick off a 24-city national tour the Bush Administration hopes will gather ideas on how to foster more cooperation in conservation.
Some of Idaho's sharpest minds and most powerful business leaders met Tuesday in Post Falls to sketch out a $50 million plan to make the state famous for something other than its potatoes. Computer chips, nanotechnology and biomedical devices are just some of the businesses that could help strengthen Idaho's economy, as well as provide a reason for the state's smartest young people to find work at home, according to members of the Governor's Science and Technology Advisory Council.
Strips of bright orange and blue twine are commonly spotted woven among the branches and bark that make up osprey nests. Biologists say these lengths of rope entangle talons, suffocate chicks and transform nests from safe havens to traps. This is just what happened recently to an osprey family near Cheney.
Searchers continue to scour a vast wilderness area in Western Montana for signs of a Post Falls hiker missing since July 19. Bob Noble, 41, was last seen in the Little Rock Creek area of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness near Hamilton, Mont. His family called authorities after the experienced hiker didn't return home when expected.