River and Sky: A fish biologist’s perspective of counting salmon from the air

Idaho News
By Carli Baum; East Idaho News SALMON RIVER — On a chilly morning, I’m awake and alert as I can be. I’m strapped into a helicopter seat, flight helmet on, doors off, safety checks done, GPS in one hand, radio in the other and a data sheet secured to my thigh. The excitement grows as the rotor blades pick up momentum and start humming loudly. We lift off from the ground and begin our trip into the backcountry. As I look over the wilderness mountains, my heart is pounding, I feel like a fish out of water and think, “How did I end up here? I’m a fish biologist!” As fisheries biologists, we are used to walking along a streambed looking down to see what fish we can find. However,…
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Our Gem: The Confluence Project is making science fun

Idaho News
Coeur d’Alene Press The Our Gem Collaboratives’ mission is to preserve lake health and protect water quality by promoting community awareness of local resources through education, outreach and stewardship. There is a unique program for high school students that embodies the kind of educational outreach the Our Gem Collaborative strives to achieve. This program not only immerses students in local water resource issues but allows them to get outside and actually experience their local environment. The Confluence Project (TCP) is a year-long program that connects students to North Idaho’s lakes, streams, mountains and aquifer through a combination of on-site studies and classroom work. There weren’t programs like this in schools in the past. This program is unique to North Idaho. The curriculum was created by graduate students at the University…
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City Council OKs water system upgrade

Idaho News
By Elaine Williams; The Lewiston Tribune A reservoir and booster station that will improve fire protection in the area near Lewiston’s high school is moving forward. Lewiston’s City Council awarded a $4.1 million bid for the project to T Bailey Inc., of Anacortes, Wash., at its Monday meeting. The price includes a steel reservoir, potable water booster station, site development and the piping and other parts needed to connect it to the existing water system. Construction is expected to start this year and be finished next spring, said Dustin Johnson, Lewiston’s public works director. Once the upgrade is ready, a building moratorium for the neighborhood around the high school will be lifted, he said. The reservoir will be on city land north of the roundabout at Warner Avenue and 12th…
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Blackfoot to organize water advisory board

Idaho News
By Logan Ramsey; Post Register BLACKFOOT — The City of Blackfoot is working to form a water advisory board in order to involve citizens in preparing to conserve water as the snowpack and the natural flow of the Snake River decreases over time. The first meeting was on March 24. “We want citizen ownership of this,” said Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll. Princeton Lee, Blackfoot Water superintendent, said the goal of the board will be “to try to get the citizens to conserve water or help us change the way we use and perceive water. I feel like that’s something that the citizens of Blackfoot or users of the water system should help us craft.” This summer could be particularly hard on people who use irrigation with junior water rights as…
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Scientist presents major groundwater quality analysis for south central Idaho

Idaho News
By Rachel Cohen; Boise State Public Radio News A water quality sampling line is fed down a groundwater well in southern Idaho. Idaho Water Science Center USGS Water in south central Idaho has had nutrient issues for a long time. That’s according to Kenneth Skinner, a groundwater hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey. But Skinner said, while several state and federal agencies have collected data in the Magic Valley area since the 1990s, there hasn’t been a recent analysis of regional groundwater contamination trends. That’s what he set out to complete by analyzing samples of a particularly widespread pollutant, nitrogen, from over 500 groundwater wells. Some common sources of nitrogen are fertilizer and manure. His findings, shared at the Idaho Water Quality Workshop on Wednesday, show nitrate levels in the Magic…
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Idaho Water Quality Workshop

Please join Idaho DEQ and Boise State University for the 32nd annual Idaho Water Quality Workshop.  It is the longest-running and best-attended gathering of water quality professionals in the state.  Agenda topics will include stream restoration, nutrient and metal pollution, reservoirs and more. The conference will be held March 16-17, 2022, in Boise.  We will have a hybrid format, so you can choose whether to attend in person or virtually. Attendees and presenters hail from Idaho and neighboring states, and include agencies, consultants, tribes, cities, academics, and the public.  This mix provides outstanding opportunities for discussion and networking.  Unlike almost every other conference, attendance is free.  That includes drinks, snacks, and an afternoon social hour. If you would like to join us, please register on the website.
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Ketchum joins coalition to help preserve water sources

Idaho News
By Andrew Guckes; Idaho Mountain Express On Monday Ketchum became the final city in the Wood River Valley to approve a term sheet proposed by the Idaho Department of Water Resources that requires each party to put forth funds to combat water shortages and help preserve groundwater aquifers in the area. The deal includes Sun Valley Co. and the Sun Valley Water and Sewer District, in addition to the cities of Ketchum, Sun Valley, Hailey and Bellevue. For the next three years, each of those parties will contribute $10 per acre-foot of groundwater diversions to the newly formed Conservation, Infrastructure and Efficiency Fund, which will be managed by a specially formed committee. They have agreed to also pay $3.60 per acre-foot of groundwater diversions to cloud-seeding projects that directly benefit…
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With grant award, Orofino plans water system upgrade

Idaho News
By Kathy Hedberg; The Lewiston Tribune OROFINO — The city of Orofino will begin a long-range planning project to upgrade the city’s water distribution system following the recent award of a $110,000 grant from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. The grant is part of a $2 million fund from the American Rescue Plan Act directed to DEQ from Gov. Brad Little. “It’s old infrastructure on the water side,” said Orofino Mayor Sean Simmons. “These funds will be going to inflow and infiltration studies on our collection system. Orofino is fairly old … so we work on it a little bit each year and do what we can.” Simmons said part of the problem is that when it rains in the spring, there is so much additional water that goes…
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Drought, low snowpack may foretell Idaho’s future

Idaho News
Idaho Statesman Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, Boise, ID. Much of Southern Idaho, cut through in scythe like fashion by the Snake River Plain, relies on the frozen water stored in the state’s mountains to fill its rivers. When winter ends and summer’s broiling heat arrives, it is these snowy peaks that serve as the state’s reservoir, filling the Salmon, Snake, Big Lost, Boise and other tributaries with cold, clear water. But as the amount of snowfall declines, with scientists citing the effects of climate change as a key contributor, major problems arise for the state’s ecosystems, residents and agriculture industry. And that erosion is already underway. By the turn of the century, Idaho could see reductions of 35%-65% of its snowpack, according to a study published in Nature Reviews…
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The climate crisis in Idaho: Experts share environmental and health concerns

Idaho News, Research
By Hanalei Potempa; The Arbiter In Idaho, the negative impacts of the changing climate are becoming more apparent. Climate change is not just one problem. The issue represents how the earth’s climate system is acting differently than how it has been operating for a very long time. It is a complete systemic change resulting from problems happening all over the world, and it affects each place in a different way. “What climate change has done is it has thrown a really big wrench into our ability to predict what’s going to happen in the future given how things have looked in the past,” said Dr. Chris Torres, an environmental studies professor at Boise State. In Idaho, changing climate conditions have caused rising concerns for consistent water sources for residential and…
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