Monthly Archives: August 2016

WSU to unveil plan addressing deficit in athletics

Washington State University will present a plan to its Board of Regents in September to address a gap of about $13 million in the Department of Athletics budget. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley reports. (:59 )

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WSU Athletics has reported a large deficit two years in a row– about $13.7 million in 2014 and $13.2 million in 2015.

WSU President Kirk Schulz says talks have been ongoing to address that budget gap:

Kirk Schulz: ‘I’m going to be sharing a plan with the Board of Regents at the September meeting, it’ll be out in public session, about how we intend to close that gap over a multi-year period, and what steps that we’re going to take.”

That’s Schulz talking with reporters on August 22nd. He says talks have been ongoing over the summer, and he wrote in a letter to the university community in May that WSU has to balance revenues and expenses while continuing to compete for Pac-12 championships.

WSU Athletics has faced several challenges, including taking in less Pac-12 Network television revenue than hoped.

The Board of Regents is scheduled to meet September 15-16 in Pullman.

I’m Glenn Mosley.


WSU Board of Regents



UI Researchers Pinpoint Climate Factors in Beetle Outbreaks in Whitebark Pines

Starting about 2000, outbreaks of mountain pine beetles caused, in the words of the National Park Service, “considerable mortality” in the whitebark pine trees of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

The beetles killed whitebark pine trees across millions of acres in and around Yellowstone National Park.

University of Idaho researchers and their partners say in a new study that temperature increases caused by climate change were a major factor behind the outbreaks of mountain pine beetles.

The study, led by Polly Buotte, a postdoctoral researcher in the UI College of Science’s Department of Geography, is the first to pinpoint the multiple climate factors behind these outbreaks.

“By the middle of this century, most years will be as suitable for beetle outbreaks as in the 2000s. It’s where we’re headed,” Buotte said in a press release.


(Mostly healthy whitebark pines. Photo courtesy Polly Buotte)


(A whitebark pine killed by Mountain Pine Beetles. Photo courtesy Polly Buotte)


(Buotte said, “This is a pitch tube, where a WBP tried to eject a beetle with pitch flow. This tree died and the small holes with no pitch are the emergence holes from the adult beetles that were laid as eggs in this tree.” Photo courtesy Polly Buotte)

The goal of the study is to help forest managers protect whitebark pines in the future, as temperatures climb due to climate change.

According to the researchers:

  • The strongest influence was warmer winter minimum temperatures. Buotte said that in previous decades, researchers thought whitebark pines grew at high enough elevations for beetles to freeze and die every winter. But with the absence of very low winter temperatures after 1992, more beetles survived. This effect was a result of climate change that occurred in recent decades.
  • Another influence was higher average fall temperatures. Warmer falls synchronize beetle populations, so they all hatch and emerge to infest other trees at the same time. These temperatures were not tied to climate change in recent decades.
  • Finally, lower summer precipitation levels and warming led to drought-stressed trees that were more susceptible to beetle infestation.
  • The researchers also created a model showing the potential for beetle attacks in coming decades and found that projected future climate change will continue to lead to conditions favorable to outbreaks.

“This adds pretty strong evidence for the need to include climate as a consideration for managing whitebark pine,” Jeffrey Hicke, a UI associate professor of geography, said in the press release.

The National Park Service says the Whitebark Pine is important because “it retains snow and reduces erosion, acts as a nurse plant for other subalpine species, and produces seeds that are an important food for grizzly bears and other wildlife.”

Buotte and Hicke said that planning for potential beetle outbreaks is vital to the success of efforts to preserve the whitebark pine in the Greater Yellowstone Area.

UI associate professor of geography John Abatzoglou also contributed to this research, which you can see at the link below.

The study, which was supported by the Northwest Climate Science Center, included researchers from the USDA Forest Service and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.


The study:

National Park Service information on the Whitebark Pine:

Northwest Climate Science Center:

Posted August 29, 2016.




$12 Billion Maintenance Backlog for National Park Service

The National Park Service turned 100 on August 25th. One challenge in the years ahead is the $12 billion maintenance backlog. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley reports. (1:06)

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The national system of parks, monuments, and historic sites has been called “America’s Best Idea,” but like any other institution marking a centennial, the National Park Service faces challenges in the years ahead.

Scott Eckberg, Idaho Unit manager for the Nez Perce National Historical Park, says a $12 billion maintenance backlog is one:

Scott Eckberg: “A lot of that is not fancy stuff, it’s stuff that you don’t cut ribbons for, like sewage systems, and roads, and plumbing that’s outdated, and buildings that are falling down.”

Eckberg says philanthropic gifts have helped the Park Service over the years, but are never enough to meet the real long-term needs of maintaining a park system as diverse as this one is– the Park Service manages 409 park units covering 84 million acres.

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office says total funding for the National Park Service did not keep pace with inflation for fiscal years 2005 through 2014, even as fees and donations increased.

I’m Glenn Mosley.


GAO Report:

Copyright 2016 Idaho Public Radio

Posted August 26, 2016


Pullman- Moscow Airport Realignment: “Continued Growth”

The realignment project at the Pullman- Moscow Airport is important to help the region’s economy remain globally competitive. That’s one conclusion from an economic study presented at the University of Idaho Tuesday. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley reports. (1:09)

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Even the most casual observer can’t miss the movement of trucks and dirt at the Pullman- Moscow Airport these days.

University of Idaho Clinical Professor Steven Peterson says once the realignment project at the airport is completed, and a terminal building expansion is eventually completed, the airport will overtake Lewiston to become the dominant airport in the Palouse and L-C Valley region. Peterson authored a March 2016 economic impact study:

Steven Peterson: “The airport is woven into the fabric of the entire Palouse economy.”

The report says the realignment is needed to help region’s global economic ties remain competitive.

Airport Executive Director Tony Bean says realignment project is important to the region’s continued growth and continued quality of life:

Tony Bean: “It gives the community the choices that the community really needs to have to be what it wants to be.”

The total realignment cost is $119 million and the project will take five years to complete, projected to be completed in 2019.

Peterson and Bean presented the report’s findings at a University of Idaho forum on Tuesday.

I’m Glenn Mosley.


Executive Summary of Peterson Study:

Copyright 2016 Idaho Public Radio

Posted August 23, 2016


UI, WSU, and Beer at Home Football Games

WSU’s proposal on beer sales at home football games is pending before the State Liquor Control Board.

The University of Idaho and Washington State University are dealing with different issues when it comes to beer at home football games on the Palouse. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley reports. (:60 )

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Washington State University President Kirk Schulz says that the idea to expand beer sales during home games at Martin Stadium was really focused on two things:

Kirk Schulz: “We want to continue to do things that enhance the experience for our fans when they’re in the stadium. That was certainly the first and foremost thing. The second was, also, enhancement of revenue. Several other universities out there, other conferences, including the PAC-12, have gone to beer sales during the game.”

Schulz said at a press conference Monday that beer sales during the games may generate, on the high side, about a million dollars in revenue to help address the Athletic Department’s gap of $13 million a year.

Nearby, just across the state line, the University of Idaho is moving in the opposite direction. The Idaho State Board of Education has said there will be no beer or alcohol at tailgating events on university property. Beer and alcohol can only be purchased in luxury suites at the UI’s Kibbie Dome.

I’m Glenn Mosley.

Copyright 2016 Idaho Public Radio

Posted August 22, 2016



Crapo: Action Plan to Address Veterans Issues

Idaho U.S. Senator Mike Crapo says his office has dramatically increased its individual case work on veterans issues. Crapo met with veterans in Lewiston Wednesday. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley reports. (1:17)


Over the past two years, Idaho U.S. Senator Mike Crapo conducted surveys of Idaho veterans to assess the issues they’re facing and how the Veterans Administration is dealing with them.

This year, instead of the survey, Crapo is talking to veterans directly in a series of meetings, including one in Lewiston Wednesday, where the discussion was open, emotional at times, and tinged with frustration:

Audio: “So it’s a blame system. I can blame you, you can blame me. But I’m caught in the middle because I’m not getting the referral, I’m not getting the help that I want.”

Crapo says what he hears from veterans is mixed when they talk about the four veterans service provider systems that deal with different parts of Idaho.


In an interview, Crapo said his office is putting together an action plan to address the issues:

Mike Crapo: “We have dramatically increased our individual case work, and that is where we start advocating on behalf of veterans with regard to specific issues, and we’ve had a significant amount of improvement there.”

Crapo says his office is working with providers to help identify where performance can be improved, and he says there’s new legislation to help improve VA services and funding.

The suicide rate among veterans is another issue Crapo says needs more public discussion. Twenty veterans are committing suicide every day.

I’m Glenn Mosley.


Senator Crapo’s 2015 Veterans Survey

Copyright 2016 Idaho Public Radio

Posted August 4, 2016