BLM Rejects M3 Land Exchange

In a letter dated March 4th, the district managers for both the Coeur d’Alene and Boise districts of the BLM rejected the proposed land exchange that would have transferred some 9000 acres of North Idaho BLM property to M3, in exchange for some 11,000 acres of M3 lands in the Boise foothills.  M3, an Arizona-based development company with an interest in a large development proposal more »

Megaloads Monitored, and Mini-Megaloads

For readers following the Highway 12 megaload issue, we thought we’d pass along a summary we received recently from the neighbors on the ground. The first two of ConocoPhillips megaloads traveling from Lewiston to Billings have made it through Idaho and are now traveling through Montana. (According to the most recent report, one load has reached Lolo, and one is “stuck” on the side of more »

January Flooding May Have Caused the Worst Coeur d’Alene Basin Contamination in Years

Late last week, we were forwarded an email from Greg Clark with the U.S. Geological Survey, whose team did some water monitoring during the flood event January 18th of this year. The monitoring in Harrison, where the Coeur d’Alene River flows into Coeur d’Alene Lake, shows that the conveyor belt of contamination from the upper basin to the lower basin was particularly bad during the more »

Can They Do That? The Proposed Continuing Resolution in Congress and the Wolf Loophole

The messy wolf issue is now getting messier, thanks to Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) in the House and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) in the Senate. In the “continuing resolution” needed to avoid a shutdown of the U.S. government, the two Congressmen have inserted language that would essentially de-list wolves from being covered under the Endangered Species Act in Idaho and Montana. Recall that a federal more »

Otter, Labrador Pick a Fed Fight With BLM

The battle over an obscure policy directive by Interior Secretary Salazar over BLM lands blew up this week, with Governor Otter testifying before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, and Rep. Raul Labrador introducing his very first piece of legislation. The “wild lands” policy, announced in December, would simply have BLM consider wilderness values if and when it writes management plans for the properties more »

Snow, Ice and Salty Water

There’s a LOT of snow up on the passes this week. And what that also means, though, is that there’s a lot of salt being put on the roads on the passes. In a unique study, Idaho DEQ has taken a careful look at what happens to the road salt in the watersheds around 4th of July pass. And that’s the subject of yet another more »

What We’re Reading

Oscars edition: The buzz started to be more audible with the Academy Award nominated movie Gasland, but there’s been a lot of outstanding new reporting about “fracking” — the process of hydraulic fracturing to capture natural gas. The process comes with a whole new range of environmental issues without much regulatory oversight. See the extensive reporting from ProPublica and the New York Times.  And our more »

Questions for Raul Labrador

Many of you got the franked mailing from Raul Labrador announcing tonight’s first public town meeting in Coeur d’Alene since being elected to Congress last fall. The meeting comes just as the U.S. House of Representatives, under new GOP leadership, passed a contentious version of a continuing resolution to keep funding the government. We’re looking forward to the meeting, because we think there’s some explanation more »

Birds Can’t Read

Migrating birds can’t read the signs in the lower Coeur d’Alene basin.  They don’t know that much of the basin is contaminated with heavy metals, and they don’t know that simply landing to rest and to feed could be lethal.  Every year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collects at least 150 dead tundra swans in the Coeur d’Alene River corridor. Short of cleaning up more »

What We’re Reading – Need A Vacation Edition

I’m heading out of town for some mid-winter sunshine (I hope) and the blogging will be light, if at all, this week. Meanwhile, ponder some of this stuff coming out of Washington DC. The House GOP has some truly devastating cuts for environmental protection planned. Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson chairs the subcommittee that will inflict the damage. Newt Gingrich wants to get rid of the more »