Agencies release sage grouse plan
A draft environmental impact statement on sage grouse management in Idaho and southwestern Montana, issued by the BLM and U.S. Forest Service on Nov. 1, contains two preferred alternatives—one based on a report issued by a BLM and Forest Service team in December 2011 and the other based on the “Idaho Governor’s Alternative.”
Both alternatives seek to achieve a balance between habitat conservation and continued human activities. The Idaho Governor’s Alternative focuses primarily on habitat threats from wildfire, invasive species and infrastructure development and only secondarily on grazing management.
Two alternatives based on recommendations by conservation groups were not selected as preferred. One of those would eliminate livestock grazing in sage grouse habitat.
The final EIS will amend up to 21 BLM land-use plans and eight Forest Service plans.
In January, the federal agencies will hold six public meetings on the draft EIS in Idaho and one in Montana. The closest meeting to the Wood River Valley will be held in Twin Falls on Jan. 14.
Wolf hunt is still well below limits
Hunters have killed 17 wolves in the two wolf hunting zones surrounding the Wood River Valley since the season opened on Aug. 30.
According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 13 wolves have been killed in the Southern Mountains Zone, which surrounds the valley and extends primarily to the east and north, and four wolves have been killed in the Sawtooth Zone, which stretches north of the Wood River Valley on its west side.
There is a seasonal quota of 40 wolves in the Southern Mountains zone and 60 in the Sawtooth Zone. The hunting season on wolves will end March 31.
Last year, a total of eight wolves were killed in the Southern Mountains Zone and 43 in the Sawtooth Zone.
So far this season, hunters have killed 102 wolves throughout the state. A wolf trapping season will open Nov. 15 in nine of the state’s 13 wolf management zones, though not in the Southern Mountains or Sawtooth zones.
Health District wants public input
South Central Public Health District is encouraging participation in an online public health survey. The survey was developed by SCPHD staff and the SCPHD Board of Health.
“This survey will provide insight into what the public feels are the most important and pressing healthcare needs in our community and will help us improve programs and strategies to meet those needs,” said Rene LeBlanc, SCPHD district director.
Anyone interested in taking the short, anonymous survey should visit www.phd5.idaho.gov. The survey is available online in both English and Spanish, and paper copies are available at all SCPHD offices (Bellevue, Burley, Gooding, Jerome, and Twin Falls) for those people without access to a computer.
Judge rejects some rules for protests
BOISE—A federal judge rejected some rules governing protests on state property surrounding the Capitol in Boise, concluding a seven-day limit on rallies as well as possible restriction-waivers for some groups but not others failed to pass free-speech muster.
The “Occupy Boise” protests that prompted this two-year-old litigation vacated the old Ada County Courthouse’s grounds last spring.
Late Friday, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s latest decision further clarified how activists can — and can’t — use the Capitol Mall properties.
Though Winmill’s 39-page ruling makes it clear he believes Idaho lawmakers went too far in some areas, he also upheld other limits.
CDC recommends getting flu shot
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that everyone 6 months of age and older get an annual influenza vaccination.
“It’s important to understand that the flu is not just a bad cold; it’s a serious and often life-threatening illness,” said Jan Flynn, director of the American Lung Association in Idaho. “Vaccination is safe and effective, and is the best way to help prevent influenza.”
Influenza is a serious, contagious respiratory illness, the CDC states. Each year in the U.S., on average, influenza and its related complications result in approximately 226,000 hospitalizations.