North Idaho

Kootenai Health

The entire state of Idaho is now in a crisis standard of care due to a massive increase in COVID-19 cases.

The declaration came after a request from St. Luke’s Healthcare System in Boise. The hospital had surpassed its capacity and delayed most non-life-threatening procedures – including some cancer treatments, says Dr. Jim Souza, the chief physician at St. Luke’s.

Screenshot from CDA School District levy video

Eleven north Idaho school districts have supplemental levies on Tuesday’s [March 9] levy.

The largest measure is in the Coeur d’Alene School District, which is asking voters for $40 million for the next two years.

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Federal officials say the water supply this year in north Idaho is looking good, especially when compared to other areas of the state. 

The Clearwater Basin in north central Idaho had near normal amounts of snowfall last winter. The farther north you went, the better the snowpack.

S. Hammarlund, via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

The Idaho Department of Lands is teaming up with the U.S. Forest Service to do a timber harvest project at Priest Lake in a new collaborative effort. The project has both supporters and detractors. The project calls for logging about 2800 acres at Hanna Flats near Priest Lake.

For years, Phil Hough, the executive director of the group Friends of the Scotchman Peaks, based in Sandpoint, Idaho, has worked to convince the federal government to designate the remote area as wilderness. The peaks are a set of craggy mountains in an area that straddles the Idaho-Montana border north and east of Lake Pend Oreille.

Inland Journal, May 18, 2017

May 18, 2017

This week on the Inland Journal, we take a few minutes to review the cleanup of mining waste in north Idaho’s Silver Valley. We’ll talk with two of the men involved in it. That cleanup started more than 30 years ago and it may be that long before it’s finished. We’ll talk about this week’s reopening of the North Cascades Highway — later than usual — after a severe winter. And we’ll hear about the work done to assimilate refugees in the Spokane area and how the current political climate might affect that.

Cleanup Work Resumes in Idaho's Silver Valley

May 17, 2017
Idaho Public TV

Cleanup work is getting underway again in the areas contaminated by mining waste in north Idaho’s Silver Valley. Bad weather forced a delay in some of those projects this spring. The people leading the cleanup work held a briefing for reporters Tuesday in Coeur d’Alene.

Flooding Costs Accumulate in Idaho

Apr 6, 2017

Late winter, early spring rains and snow melt have caused large amounts of damage to infrastructure in Idaho. This week, Governor Butch Otter spelled it out for reporters.

“We right now have 32 counties under a disaster declaration in the state. We’ve got a running total of almost $30 million of infrastructure that we know on roads and bridges that’s going to have to be replaced," Otter said at a Monday press conference in Boise.

The National Weather Service has extended its flood warning for the St. Joe River at St. Maries, Idaho until Monday evening. As of the noon hour on Friday, the river was about a foot-and-a-quarter beyond flood stage and there is minor flooding in the area.

One man in St. Maries is helping weather authorities monitor the river’s water levels.

It became clear in the last election that a stark division existed between urban and rural areas. In places such as north Idaho, people with similar political stripes have begun seeking each other out.

When Adrien Koch retired last summer from her job with FEMA in the Bay Area, she and her husband resettled in the wooded mountains of north Idaho. They had visited only a few months before on a vacation but had quickly fallen in love. For Koch, Idaho reminded her of the California she knew in the 1970s.

Creative Fire Name Hard to Come By at 3:00a.m.

Aug 16, 2015
Blue Fire incident command photo
Dave Van Netter

Sometimes, sheer physical exhaustion and weariness overcome even the most creative minds. It happened to one forest official in Idaho responsible for naming a new blaze.

Cape Horn Firefighters Aiming for Tuesday Containment

Jul 10, 2015
Cape Horn Wildfire

Idaho’s Cape Horn fire is now 50 percent contained as of Friday night, a ten percent improvement from Thursday. Fire information officer Norm Rooker says the area not yet contained runs from the top of Three Sister’s Ridge down to the lake itself.

Cape Horn Wildfire

Fire officials report good progress being made on the Cape Horn fire burning close to the town of Bayview Idaho. The fire is now considered 35% contained, and officials have actually downgraded the estimated size of the fire from 2,000 to 1,380 acres.


Weather conditions were favorable overnight at the Cape Horn fire on the southern end of Lake Pend Oreille in Northern Idaho. The 2,000 acre blaze threatens the resort town of Bayview, Idaho, between Sandpoint and Hayden.

Cape Horn Fire Burns at Lake Pend Oreille

Jul 6, 2015

Whipped by wind gusting to 25 miles an hour, a wildfire near the Bayview area on the southern shores of Lake Pend Oreille quickly grew to at least 500 acres Sunday afternoon. By Monday afternoon it was reported at 2,000 acres by the fire's incident commanders, and zero-percent contained.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter issued a disaster declaration Monday for two north Idaho counties dealing with a fast-growing wildfire.

Hecla To Pay Fine Over Problems At Idaho Mine

Jun 1, 2015

The Hecla Mining Company of Coeur d' Alene has agreed to pay a large fine and to fix runoff leakage from its  Lucky Friday silver mine in the Silver Valley of Idaho.

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.

Thousands of acres of magnificent Idaho backcountry and rugged peaks are on the verge of federal protection with a compromise hammered out between two of the state's key lawmakers. Two identical bills to protect untrammeled scenic areas in the Boulder-White Clouds region of central Idaho are finally getting action in Congress after years of inaction and political frustration.

Another piece of a marathon North Idaho highway improvement project should be completed by next fall. For about 15 years now, Idaho transportation department planners have been trying to straighten and widen US 95 between Coeur d'Alene and Lewiston.

Osprey Arrive to Their Coeur d'Alene Nests

Apr 19, 2015
Bird Camera
City of Coeur d'Alene

As expected, ospreys have arrived in Coeur d'Alene to take over nesting platforms perched high above McEuen Park. But as of Sunday, only one of three platforms 70 feet above the park was spoken for. An osprey pair has called dibs on the south nest.

Idaho Mom Remembered One Week After Shooting

Jan 6, 2015

People gathered at a church in Coeur d’Alene Tuesday morning to remember the mom who was killed in an accident in Hayden last week. Veronica Rutledge worked at the Idaho National Laboratory, lived in Blackfoot with her husband and son, and had family elsewhere in Idaho and Montana.

Air Pollution Dogs Idaho Mining District

Jan 6, 2015

The State of Idaho - and people who live in the mine-rich Silver Valley east of Coeur d'Alene - are still struggling to fix pollution problems, even after decades of clean-up work. The EPA has designated air quality in the West Silver Valley as polluted from fine particles.

Toddler Accidentally Shoots, Kills Mother in Idaho

Dec 30, 2014
Flickr - IceBone

(This information was compiled from initial Associated Press reports and the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office PIO.)

New as of December 31, 2014:

Kootenai County Sheriff Press Release:

Hayden, ID - *Update to earlier release regarding the accidental shooting incident that occurred on December 30, 2014 at the Hayden Walmart store. Detectives attended the autopsy this morning for shooting victim, Veronica J. Rutledge and new details are being released.

Mrs. Rutledge had been shopping in the Hayden Walmart with her two-year old son and three other relatives under the age of eleven. While her son was seated in the shopping cart and Mrs. Rutledge was within a few feet of the cart, her son accessed Mrs. Rutledge’s concealed 9mm Smith & Wesson M&P ShieldTM semi-automatic handgun from her purse. The purse was specifically designed for concealed carry of a firearm and was new to her. The two-year old removed the firearm from the purse and fired one bullet from the pistol. The bullet struck Mrs. Rutledge in the head, killing her instantly. The Walmart store manager, who was nearby when the gun was fired, stepped in and removed the firearm from the child. The manager and store employees reacted quickly and efficiently to secure the scene and escort the patrons from the store as first responders were arriving. Detectives have recovered the store’s video and are in the process of examining it. They are also examining the weapon to include the safety mechanism and ballistics and conducting follow up interviews with witnesses. Further information is not available at this time. The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the public for the outpouring of support for the familyand friends of Mrs. Rutledge as well as the first responders. To Veronica’s family, we offer oursincerest condolences.Ben Wolfinger, SheriffBy: Lieutenant Stu Miller

December 30th:

Today (Tuesday) in Hayden, Idaho a boy accidentally shot and killed his mother in a Wal-Mart store. The tragic story unfolded late in the morning. The Kootenai County Sheriff’s office says the two-year-old boy reached into his mom's purse and her concealed gun fired.

Sheriff's spokesman Stu Miller told reporters the woman was shopping with several children. Earlier the office said it was unclear how they were related, but later in the day confirmed the boy was the woman's son.

Authorities say the 29 year old woman had a concealed weapons permit. Her identity has not been released.

Miller says the shooting was accidental. The Hayden Wal-Mart staff evacuated shoppers and closed after the shooting.

Click to see Wal-Mart location:

Lake Clean-Up Work Pays Dividends

Nov 25, 2014

Long running efforts to clean up toxic waste in Idaho's Silver Valley mining district are paying off. A new report from the US Geological Survey concluded that concentrations of three heavy metals - cadmium, lead and zinc - have been cut back significantly since controversial clean-up work by the EPA began in the 1990s.

A USGS hydrologist, Greg Clark, studied 18 water quality monitors set up from Mullan, in the heart of the mining district, to Post Falls. He found that the three heavy metals have been cut back by 65 percent in the Coeur d'Alene River between 1992 and 2013.

oil train
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

North Idaho officials have been coordinating efforts with BNSF railway to work on an emergency response plan in the event of a derailment and possible chemical or petroleum spill. Representatives from Boundary County, Bonners Ferry, the Kootenai tribe and local police and fire agencies met with BNSF officials last week to update the railroads Geographical Response plan.

Town Officials Mull the Cost of Quiet Trains

Nov 18, 2014
oil train
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

A tale of sound and fury is playing out in Sandpoint Idaho - the sound coming from the blare of train horns - the fury, from irate residents whose nerves are frayed and jangled. Two major rail lines run cheek by jowl through Sandpoint because of the funneling effect imposed by topography. And the number of trains rumbling through town is increasing - meaning the ear-shattering sound of train horns is increasing as well - night and day.

A Freedom Tree Grows Again in Coeur d'Alene

Nov 10, 2014

Veterans Day ceremonies  in Coeur d'Alene will include dedication of a new Freedom Tree in the city's re-modeled McEuen Park. The city's original Freedom Tree, a graceful 65-foot Norway spruce, was felled last year because it was smack in the way of new construction for the McEuen Park makeover.

Large Post Falls Employer to Shutter Plant

Nov 6, 2014

A major employer in Post Falls is shutting down its operation there, taking with it about 260 jobs. The Kimball office furniture plant will be phased out starting next year as the company consolidates operations at its Jasper, Indiana home plant.

A company spokesman said the decision was based on economics, since 80 percent of the company's market is east of the Rockies. He said Post Falls employees were told of the planned closure on Wednesday. They'll be offered a severance package and some assistance with job re-training or placement.

The Environmental Protection Agency is testing out a new technique for keeping heavily-used river banks from eroding into the water.