Pandhandle Health District.

The hot temperatures this summer have promoted algae growth at some area lakes, and Idaho officials are warning people to try to avoid contact with contaminated lake water, which can be a health threat.

The algae appears as discolored water, streaks or globs of scum, or thick green matts along the shore.

National Weather Service

Eastern and central Washington should prepare for an intense, but short, heat wave this weekend.

National Weather Service meteorologist Rebekah Cheatham says temperatures on Friday and Saturday will be close to as hot as they were during the record-breaking heat wave at the end of June.

Fernan Lake Under Health Advisory After Algal Bloom

Jul 28, 2021
Courtesy of Panhandle Health District

The Pandhandle Health District has detected toxins that are dangerous to human health in Fernan Lake.

According to a press release, toxins have been found across the entire body of water due to algal blooms. The dramatic increase in algae looks like thick green mats or scum in the water.

Health officials are urging people who recreate, or fish on the lake to be cautious and avoid exposure to the water. Toxins can’t be removed by boiling or filtration, and can contaminate fish caught in the lake.

Conrad Gowell

This summer’s heat wave led to some unhealthy hot water for salmon. But, fish managers said it hasn’t been as devastating for salmon runs as the warm water temperatures were in 2015.

Spokane has received about half of the precipitation it normally receives by this time in the summer.

Since January 1, the city has seen only 4.88" of precipitation. The 30-year average is 9.58" for the same time frame. Even so, this year comes in as the fourth driest on record for that time period.

Algal Bloom Puts Hayden Lake Under Health Restrictions

Jul 27, 2021
Panhandle Health District

Panhandle Health officials are urging people to be cautious when swimming, or fishing in the northern portion of Hayden Lake due to a harmful algal bloom.

Algal blooms can produce dangerous bacteria in high concentrations.  They can look like an algal mat or murky, or scummy water.

Health officials are asking people who use Hayden Lake for drinking water to be careful, because boiling, or filtering it may not remove the toxins.

They are also urging people who are exposed algae to wash with clean water.  

Flikr Commons

Spring means there are a number of new baby animals in the great outdoors.

But experts warn that it's not a good idea to try to care for any animals you assume have been abandoned.

Courtesy of Silver Valley Community Resource Center

Earth Day will be formally celebrated on Thursday, April 22.

Three Inland Northwest environmental groups that share a common focus are combining their efforts to sponsor an early celebration.

Three young environmental activists are visiting Sandpoint, this Saturday, to talk about a pair of lawsuits challenging government to do more to combat climate change.

The trio is involved in two lawsuits filed by young people, ranging from age 9 to 21, that say the government has failed in a duty to protect young people from the ravages of climate change.

One suit is making its way through federal court in Oregon, another has been filed here in Washington State.

A federal civil trial in Seattle against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway is on hold pending a tentative settlement in a case brought by seven environmental groups that has been in litigation since 2013.

Plaintiffs argued coal dust and pieces of coal the company ships from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin across the Northwest have been polluting Washington’s waterways for years in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

Nature will begin to restore fire-blackened acreage next spring, but it will likely use a nasty vegetative troll to do it - cheatgrass.

EPA Told to Quit Stalling on Pesticide Issue

Aug 11, 2015

This has been a bad week for the US Environmental Protection Agency. On the same day the agency had to admit that it fouled a Colorado river with millions of gallons of toxic mine waste, federal judges in Seattle told the EPA to quit stalling and dithering about a controversial pesticide.

New Wetlands May Grow From Old Logs

Jun 10, 2015

It may sound odd to think of restoring a vital wetlands on Lake Pend Oreille by throwing old logs, tree limbs and dirt into it. But that's what government agencies and volunteers are doing in the rapidly disappearing Clark Fork River delta.

Environmentalist Julian Powers died on Tuesday in Spokane. Verne paid tribute to him this morning on the Morning Classical program. Read more about Julian Powers here.  

An unusual experiment begins this summer on Idaho's Hayden Lake - testing of man-made floating wetlands that may save the lake from slowly choking to death. The Hayden Area Regional Sewer Board and the Kootenai Environmental Alliance have teamed up to make the artificial wetlands.

They call it "biomimickry technology."

The idea is launch the floating pads, made from recycled plastic and planted with native wetland vegetation, and let them eat up nutrients - primarily phosphorus - which are slowly strangling Hayden Lake.

Campgrounds Quarantined Because of Sick Trees

May 19, 2015

A couple of popular public campgrounds - one in Idaho and one in Washington - are out of commission for the entire year for an unusual reason --- sick trees above both campsites.

Several environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Transportation over new rules for oil train traffic that they say do not go far enough to protect against catastrophic accidents.

Laurie Jackson

Rural residents of Washington are preparing for a dry, hot summer, and bracing for what could be a bad fire year. Steve Jackson reports on efforts to safeguard property. Last weekend, the Department of Natural Resources teamed up with local fire districts and homeowners to kick off  “Wildfire Awareness Week.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee used Earth Day to chastise state lawmakers for their environmental record.

Some Native Americans says the new fish consumption rules being proposed in Washington are a step in the right direction, but may not go far enough. The state Department of Ecology has proposed changes to the fish consumption rates in the state.

Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission

Conservationists are challenging the approval of a Mount Spokane ski area expansion. The Lands Council and other groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Thurston County Superior Court, not against the mountain, but against the state Parks and Recreation Commission.

Free Trees For Inland NW Residents

Mar 19, 2015
City of Spokane

The number of trees in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene will mushroom this spring with give-aways by both cities. As part of its Spokane Forest Initiative, the City of Spokane will hand out 2,000 free trees - one batch on April 17th and 18th at three area nurseries - and the next batch in October.

State Legislators Focus on Weeds and Bees

Mar 16, 2015
USGS: Elizabeth A. Sellers / USGS

Washington State lawmakers want to know if they can create a win-win deal in the battle against noxious weeds - that is to give honeybees - and the crops that depend on them - a helping hand while whacking aggressive weeds.

Washington bee keepers, faced with sudden and puzzling losses of entire colonies of the little pollinators, have asked state officials to to modify their unrestricted warfare against noxious weeds. That's because some varieties of voracious weeds are also pollen and nectar-rich, prime foraging plants for bees.

Spokane Regional Health District

A federal judge has sided with environmental groups and the Spokane Tribe in a case concerning pollution in the Spokane River. The case involves chemicals called PCB’s that have been linked to cancer and liver dysfunction for years. While the products were banned in manufacturing since the 1970’s, they still remain in the environment.

The Center for Environmental Law and Policy says the state and Federal EPA has failed to develop a policy for cleaning up PCB’s from the river. Monday, a federal court agreed with that assessment.

Gray Wolf stock photo
USFWS: Tracy Brooks / USFWS Flickr

Conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the U-S Department of Agriculture Tuesday over killing wolves in Washington state. The state is home to 13 packs, which threaten livestock in some communities.

Wolf Lawsuit Prompted by Alpha Female Kill in 2014

Mar 3, 2015
Flickr user USFWS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq/sets/72157644568160740/

The lawsuit against the USDA’s Wildlife Services program stemmed from a wolf kill last year. The Western Environmental Law Center sued the federal program yesterday. Gray wolves are endangered statewide according to Washington’s listing, but only endangered in western Washington by federal standards. That leaves jurisdiction of the eastern third of the state up to state officials.

Last Rush for the Wild West - Facebook

A film that takes a critical look at tar sands and oil shale mining will screen at Gonzaga University Thursday. The film “Last Rush for the Wild West” take a look at a project that the director says is the most critical environmental problem facing the US today. It is a proposed strip mine that would cover a million acres near the headwaters of the Colorado River in Utah.

Director Jennifer Ekstrom, who was formerly the Pend O'reille water-keeper, says the mining process will pose a direct threat to millions of people downstream.

Senate Committee Strips Coal-Fired Plant Bill

Feb 20, 2015
Avista Utilities: http://www.avistautilities.com/inside/resources/Pages/default.aspx

A state senate committee took unique action Thursday on a bill supported by Avista and two other utility companies in Washington. The Senate’s Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee stripped the bill of all its language and voted to pass the bill’s title. It suggests the committee supported the idea but wanted an overhaul on the language.

Bruce Howard is Avista’s Director of Environmental Affairs.

Howard: “It would allow Washington utilities to acquire additional ownership interest in coal plants, to really facilitate early closure.”

Sierra Club Asks Avista to Move ‘Beyond Coal’

Feb 18, 2015
Jace Bylenga, Sierra Club

The Sierra Club delivered boxes of petitions on Wednesday to Avista Utilities in Spokane. The environmental group is asking Avista to replace coal power with sustainable energy.

Golf Course
Palouse Ridge: http://www.palouseridge.com/photo-gallery/course-views

Washington State University has been declared the victor in a long-running fight over using - or conserving - water in a rapidly shrinking aquifer underneath Pullman and Moscow. Six justices of the Washington State Supreme Court held that WSU is legally pumping millions of gallons of water from the Grand Ronde aquifer, with some of the water going to keep the university's new golf course green.

Three justices dissented, however, arguing that WSU relinquished some of its water rights several years ago, and that the old principle of "use it or lose it" must apply in the case.