Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Meet FUEGO: Wildfire Fighting Technology of the Future

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 9:30 AM

An artist’s concept of the FUEGO satellite, which would snap digital photos of the western United States every few seconds in search of hot spots that could be newly ignited fires.
  • R. E. Lafever, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • An artist’s concept of the FUEGO satellite, which would snap digital photos of the western United States every few seconds in search of hot spots that could be newly ignited fires.

In the shadow of another devastating wildfire season, fire managers are keeping a close eye on a new piece of technology that could be their newest weapon in blaze-busting: a fire-spotting satellite.

The journal Remote Sensing has published an article from a team of University of California at Berkeley scientists that say they've designed such a satellite, with state-of-the-art sensors which would snap pictures of the ground every few seconds in search of hot spots that could be newly ignited wildfires. The researchers said firefighting resources could then be directed to the hotspots of preventing the fires from growing out of control.

The scientists even have a name for their design: FUEGO— which stands for Fire Urgency Estimator in Geosynchronous Orbit. They're hoping to secure public or private funds to build the first model, which could several hundred million dollars.

“If we had information on the location of fires when they were smaller, then we could take appropriate actions quicker and more easily, including preparing for evacuation,” said Scott Stephens, a UC Berkeley associate professor of environmental science, policy and management. “Wildfires would be smaller in scale if you could detect them before they got too big, like less than an acre.”

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Mountain Express: Erosion Mitigation Plan for Fire-Scorched Beaver Creek Still Awaits Approval

Posted By on Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 1:00 PM

With the end of the partial federal government shutdown sending hundreds of thousands of employees back to work, officials with the U.S. Forest Service in Idaho are still uncertain about a major rehabilitation effort in the wake of this summer's massive Beaver Creek wildfire.

This morning's Idaho Mountain Express reports that USFS crews have been clearing debris from culverts and under bridges on Warm Springs and Baker Creek roads, but a plan for erosion mitigation is still awaiting approval at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the USFS.

The Mountain Express reports that Idaho officials are hoping to begin awarding contracts to do aerial mulching and seeding to reforest the scorched Idaho landscape in preparation for spring rains, but they may soon run out of time.

"If we aren't able to implement it this winter, we'll have to shoot for early spring," Ketchum District Ranger Kurt Nelson told the Mountain Express. "It will take some time to figure out where things stand."

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

YouTube Elk That Chased Motorcycle Killed By Montana FWP

Posted By on Wed, Oct 16, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Giggly television news anchors have delighted in a viral YouTube video, showing an elk trying to chase down a motorcycle on Montana Highway 200. The 115-second clip topped 100,000 hits by Oct. 15.

Heather Leigh and boyfriend Glen Smith were motorcycling through Montana's Blackfoot Valley Sept. 29 when a spike bull elk began following them and continued chasing them on the highway.

But what most people don't know is that the elk has been killed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for being "a bit too forward" according to this morning's Missoulian.

“It was a judgment call on our part,” FWP warden Capt. Joe Jaquith told The Missoulian. “We were looking at the traffic hazard the animal was creating and its aggressive behavior toward the public. We felt that it was just too big of a risk to wait another week or 10 days for the hunting season and the safest thing to do would be to dispatch it.”

FWP officials said the decision to kill the elk was made before the agency was aware of the video. The warden said the same elk was "acting very aggressive" on the property of a landowner.

Jaquith told The Missoulian that relocating the elk would have been "very problematic."

"The only way we can do that is to drug the animal," he said. " And then we have concerns about, you know, a week or two later if it gets harvested during the hunting season after we pumped it full of narcotics. So this is a time of year when that’s probably not a consideration.”

The elk was field dressed and the meat taken to be processed for a local food bank.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Edible Roadkill Rules Being Finalized in Montana Today

Posted By on Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Soon enough, Montanans who accidentally kill big game on the state's roadways will be able to put the carnage on their dinner table by printing out permits at home.

So, yes, there will be an app for that.

This morning's Missoulian reports that the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission is meeting today to put the finishing touches on new regulations that will allow Montanans "to print permits to salvage for food any animals they hit and kill within 24 hours of the fender-bender." The original plan was to have Montanans present the carcass to a law enforcement officer in person within a day of the crash, but now drivers will simply click an app to print a permit.

Earlier this year, the Montana Legislature approved a bill that allows Montanans to salvage deer, elk, moose and antelope roadkill. The state FWP commission is refining the rules, including provisions that salvaged meat must be eaten, not used for bait; and the whole carcass must be taken from the crash site.

The FWP Commission is meeting in Miles City, Mont., today, where it is expected to finalize the rules.

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Montana Roadkill Rule Could Pass In November

Posted By on Fri, Oct 4, 2013 at 10:38 AM

A new law which will allow Montanans to dine on roadkill is on hold for another month. While the law passed through the Montana Legislature and went into effect Oct. 1, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission still has to finalize rules on recovering dead deer, elk, moose or antelope from the road.

This morning's Missoulian reports that after Montana FWP agrees on regulations, they'll send it to the Montana Secretary of State for approval and the law may be in place sometime in November.

The new law allows anyone who wants to claim a vehicle-killed carcass of one of the four approved animal species need only log on to a state website to fill out the permit within 24 hours of hauling the carcass home. A permit is needed for each animal salvaged.

The Missoulian reports that there’s no shortage of animals in states like Montana, which State Farm insurance rates as the No. 2 state for deer-vehicle collisions—West Virginia ranks No. 1. The insurance company estimated 1.2 million deer-vehicle collisions in the United States last year.

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Lawsuit Filed Over North Idaho Habitat of Woodland Caribou

Posted By on Wed, Oct 2, 2013 at 10:05 AM

The most recent survey, conducted between Jan. 12 and April 2, 2012, found only 27 woodland caribou were discovered in the southern Selkirks.
  • Steve Forrest
  • The most recent survey, conducted between Jan. 12 and April 2, 2012, found only 27 woodland caribou were discovered in the southern Selkirks.

In December 2012, Boise Weekly told you about the scant numbers of woodland caribou, often referred to as North America's reindeer, and their home along the U.S.-Canada border in Idaho, Washington and the Canadian province of Alberta.

According to a 2010 aerial census conducted by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, only 43 of the animals were found in the southern Selkirks, a habitat including hundreds of square miles of rugged backcountry. A 2011 census counted only 36 caribou and the most recent survey, conducted in 2012, found only 27 animals. Four were found in the U.S.

On Oct. 1, environmental advocates filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Boise, arguing that federal budget cuts put the wildlife at greater risk.

"The reduction in protected habitat is a death sentence for mountain caribou," Noah Greenwald, spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity told the Associated Press. "They will not survive in the United States if we don't protect their habitat."

The lawsuit accuses federal officials of bending to political pressure when they slashed protected caribou habitat from 375,000 acres to approximately 30,000 acres.

"Reducing the amount of protected areas by more than 90 percent is clearly a step in the work direction that goes against the best available science," Jason Rylander, attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, told the AP

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

AP: New sockeye hatchery to open near American Falls Reservoir this Friday

Posted By on Wed, Sep 4, 2013 at 4:31 PM

A $13.5 million fish hatchery near the American Falls Reservoir in Eastern Idaho is scheduled to open Friday, Sept. 6, according to the Twin Falls Times-News. Idaho fish biologists hope it will help restore the population of endangered sockeye salmon.

The Springfield Hatchery comes after two decades of efforts by state, tribal and federal fisheries experts to prevent the extinction of the fish. Friday’s opening will include a formal dedication of the facility.

Biologists project the hatchery will be capable of producing 1 million juvenile sockeye every year. The fish will then be released into the lakes of the Sawtooth Valley in Central Idaho.

The first batch of sockeye smolts is slated for release by 2015. Biologists hope to see 10,000 sockeye return to Idaho rivers and spawning areas by 2019. This means more fish can be allotted to fishermen. If 10,000 fish return, anglers could possibly be allowed to catch up to 5,000 “surplus” fish in the Sawtooth lakes and rivers.

Fish biologists intend to take their time with the recovery, to prevent weakened genetics from inbreeding.

In the late 1800s, so many thousands of fish returned to Redfish Lake every year that a cannery was proposed—a stark difference from the sole sockeye salmon to return in 1992, dubbed Lonesome Larry. Dams built along the river system have caused those numbers to plummet over the past 40 years.

To date this year 185 fish have returned with about a month of migration left.

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

IDFG: Operator Error May Have Triggered Fishkill During Salmon Transport

Posted By on Sun, Sep 1, 2013 at 10:00 AM

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game said Aug. 30 that as many as 160 adult Chinook salmon were killed earlier in the week during a habitat transfer that may have been botched. IDFG said the fish were being moved from the Sawtooth Hatchery near Stanley to the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River, approximately 40 miles away.

IDFG said one of its employees noticed that many of the fish were stressed during the journey, apparently from a lack of oxygen. The department said the employee may have erred in the operation of the transport truck's life-support system.

Department officials said they would review procedures to prevent a repeat incident.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Black Bear Visits Downtown Boise Near VA Facilities

Posted By on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 12:42 PM


Employees, patients and visitors to the Veterans Affairs campus in North Boise have been buzzing today after a black bear was spotted near the Veterans Affairs facilities. The male bear has since been trapped and is being transported to the hills above Lowman, where the animal will be released.

Earlier reports thought that there might have been more than one bear, but Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials confirmed that only one bear was spotted.

"This is probably the start of something that is going to be difficult for all of us for awhile," said Evan O'Neill from IDFG. "With our dry weather conditions on top of the wildfires burning a lot of the backcountry, well, bears are still going to be hungry. That doesn't change. I'm afraid we're going to have more bears in town in the weeks to come until they go to hibernation."

O'Neill reminds residents to keep bear attractants, including outdoor trash, to a minimum.

"There are probably going to be more bears coming down, looking for something to eat," he said. "The last thing folks need is some kind of an issue with a black bear."

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Biologists: In the Wake of Wildfires, Wood River Residents Can Expect to See More Bears, Insects

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Wildlife officials are cautiously optimistic that many of the region's big-game animals will survive the massive wildfires that have blanketed the Wood River Valley.

"I don't suspect that big-game-wise we've lost a lot of critters," Randy Smith, wildlife biologist with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game told the Idaho Mountain Express, adding that many of the big-game animals ought to outrun the Beaver Creek Fire. "We'll see where the fire has pushed them."

Smith added that some elk and deer had been previously fitted with radio transmitters, and once the wildfire has subsided, IDFG officials will fly over the area to monitor the migration.

Smith told the Mountain Express that the nearby Elk Complex Fire probably caused more havoc to wildlife, killing several dozen deer and elk, and at least one bear.

He added that that damage from the Beaver Creek Fire, burning up usual fall foods for bears, could result in more black bears showing up in residential areas this fall and winter.

And residents should expect so see a lot more bugs.

"You'll see a huge increase in the insect population," Regional Wildlife Biologist Ross Winton told the Mountain Express, saying wasps and beetles lay their eggs in recently burned stumps.

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