Monthly Archives: June 2018

Helping Idaho’s Volunteer EMS Services

Idaho state officials have been holding a series of meetings across the state to gather information and possible solutions to the challenges being faced by volunteer Emergency Medical Services organizations. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley reports. (:56)

Listen:

What the state officials are trying to do is better understand what they can do to help volunteer EMS in the state, at a time when some rural communities are struggling to recruit EMS volunteers and some face funding and resources issues.

Wayne Denny is chief of the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare:

Wayne Denny: “We need to really explore what we can do. We’ve got some really smart, well-trained people. So, what else can we to with them to leverage the knowledge and the willingness and the capability that we’ve got to put it to the best use we can?”

Almost 30 people attended a public meeting in Moscow on June 14, and about 100 people attended a June 11 meeting in Grangeville. In all, 16 meetings were scheduled.

Denny says the suggestions and comments and data from these meetings will be pulled together into a report, and then the bureau will get together with state lawmakers to talk about how best to address the issues.

I’m Glenn Mosley.

Posted June 15, 2018

(Photo: June 14, 2018 meeting, Gritman Regional Medical Center, Moscow)

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Simpson Praises House Passage of Energy and Water Appropriation Bill

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson is praising House passage of H.R. 5895, which included the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.

H.R. 5895 provides funding for the Idaho National Laboratory, the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, and cleanup activities in Idaho.

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“The FY 19 Energy and Water bill recognizes the leading national role that the Idaho National Laboratory plays in enhancing our national security and increasing American competitiveness,” Simpson, Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, said in a news release.

The bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy at $1.2 billion.

The Idaho Facilities Management account–  infrastructure maintenance and improvement at INL–  is funded at $322 million, a $28 million increase over FY 2018. INL’s Safeguards and Security Program is funded at $146 million, an increase of $13 million from last year.

The bill provides $420 million for cleanup activities associated with the Idaho Cleanup Project and the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project.

The legislation includes $44.7 billion for the functions of the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and a number of independent agencies, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Bonneville Power Administration.

“This is a well-balanced bill that places emphasis where it is needed most: meeting critical national security needs and investing in our nation’s infrastructure,” Simpson said.  “It prioritizes the maintenance and security of our nuclear weapons stockpile, while also supporting infrastructure projects and strategic research and development that will increase U.S. economic growth and competitiveness.”

The bill now goes to a conference committee, where differences between it and the Senate version need to be ironed out.

Posted June 8, 2018

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Idaho Provisions in Appropriations Bill

The U.S. House Committee on Appropriations voted 25-20 on June 6 to pass the fiscal year 2019 Interior and Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

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Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, a member of the committee, says the legislation continues many provisions from the 2018 Omnibus spending bill and expands efforts critical to Idaho’s rural economy.

“The House Appropriations Committee has once again put together a bill that reflects the priorities of Idaho and other western members,” Simpson said in a news release.

Among the bill items Simpson listed as important to Idaho are the following:

  • Full funding for Payments in Lieu of Taxes, $500 million for FY19 and $35 million above the President’s request;
  • Full funding for wildfire suppression at the ten-year average of $3.9 billion for the Department of Interior and the Forest Service. Starting in FY20, the Forest Service will be able to treat wildfires like other natural disasters;
  • $655 million for hazardous fuels management, such as catastrophic wildfires, a $30 million increase from FY18;
  • Language that authorizes the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Secretary of the Army to withdraw the Waters of the United States rule;
  • Language that directs EPA, USDA, and DOE to establish clear policies that reflect the carbon neutrality of biomass;
  • A decrease in EPA funding by $100 million, reducing the regulatory programs by $228 million and prioritizing funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan fund;
  • Language directing the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue a rule removing recovered wolves in in the contiguous United States from the endangered species list;
  • Language preventing the listing of sage grouse as an endangered species;
  • Funding increase for Recovery Challenge matching grants to share the costs of recovery with corporate and other non-governmental partners such as the Peregrine Fund in Boise;
  • Language making litigation costs more transparent and extending requirements that litigants exhaust administrative review before litigating grazing issues in Federal court;
  • Funding for the Rural Water Technical Assistance program;
  • A $175 million increase for the National Park Service to help reduce the deferred maintenance backlog in the Park system;
  • Language prohibiting a ban on issuing new closures of public lands to hunting and recreational shooting, except in the case of public safety;
  • Funding for Native American communities to help improve infrastructure and health care needs;
  • Language directing the Bureau of Land Management to work with Idaho on aquifer recharge;
  • Language directing the BLM to work with local stakeholders to address sediment buildup caused by recent flooding.

“PILT, wildfire funding, and further relief from the last Administration’s regulations are a major focus of this bill,” Simpson said. “I look forward to seeing these provisions signed into law later this year.”

Posted June 8, 2018

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2017 Wildfire Season: “Fuel, aridity, and ignition switches were all on”

“Fuel, aridity, and ignition switches were all on in 2017, making it one of the largest and costliest wildfire years in the United States”– that’s the bottom line of a new study published this week by researchers from the University of Idaho, the University of Colorado at Boulder and Columbia University.

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“Last year we saw a pile on of extreme events across large portions of the Western U.S., the wettest winter, the hottest summer and the driest fall — all helping to promote wildfires,” Jennifer Balch, director of Earth Lab and lead author on the study, said in a news release.

The study says that “Anthropogenic climate change helped flip on some of these switches rapidly in 2017, and kept them on for longer than usual.”

The 2017 wildfire season cost the United States more than $18 billion in damages, as about 71,000 wildfires burned 10 million acres of land. 12,000 homes were lost, 200,000 people were evacuated, and 66 people died.

“Policy steps are being made to alleviate the costs of firefighting and allow for more proactive fire risk mitigation,” John Abatzoglou, associate professor in U of I Department of Geography, said in a news release. “However, fire is a natural hazard that we will live with and efforts should be made to reflect fire risks based on future conditions rather than the past.”

Nearly 90 percent of total wildfires last year were caused by people. Human activity triples the length of the average fire season.

News of the new study came as a U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Subcommittee on June 5 was being briefed on the upcoming 2018 fire season outlook.

“For years now the committee has heard over and over that our wildfires are getting worse,” Washington U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell said. “Climate scientists have been telling us the fire season is getting longer and hotter.

“Most of the West received less than 50 percent of its average precipitation for May, which will likely result in fuels in the mountains becoming critically dry by late July,” Cantwell said.

The research was published in the journal Fire, at the link:

http://www.mdpi.com/2571-6255/1/1/17

Posted June 5, 2018

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Wildland Fire Potential Outlook

The National Interagency Fire Center has issued its June 2018 National Wildland Significant Fire Potential Outlook.

According to latest estimates, in July the regions with the highest fire potential include Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana, California, and northern Nevada.

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(Illustration courtesy National Interagency Fire Center)

The report says, “Concerning precipitation trends are being monitored in California, Oregon, and Washington, as most locations received 50 percent of average precipitation or less during May.”

For the Northwest, the report says, “Normal significant wildland fire potential is expected for the region in June followed by Above Normal significant large fire potential for south southeastern Washington and southern and north central Oregon for July. Above Normal significant large fire potential is expected east of the Cascade Crest in
Oregon and Washington as well as southwestern Oregon in August and September, though southeastern Oregon is expected to return to Normal significant wildland fire potential in September.”

For the Northern Rockies, the report says, “Normal significant wildland fire potential is expected for the Northern Rockies in May and June. For July, Above Normal Significant Wildland Fire Potential is expected from north central Montana west through the Idaho Panhandle, excluding the Beaverhead Deer Lodge National Forest.”

The report includes the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

Last month, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke briefed members of Congress on the upcoming fire season.

USDA says it is “well prepared” to respond to 2018 wildfires. The agency says it has more than 10,000 firefighters, 900 engines, and hundreds of aircraft available.

In 2017, the Forest Service’s wildfire suppression costs reached $2.4 billion, a historic high. In the 2018 Omnibus Bill, Congress provided the Forest Service with a total of $1.5 billion for wildfire suppression for this year and changed the way that wildfire suppression is funded beginning in Fiscal Year 2020.

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(Idaho U.S. Senator Mike Crapo, speaking with constituents near Potlatch, on June 2, 2018)

Idaho U.S. Senator Mike Crapo, talking to constituents in Freeze, Idaho, on June 2, cited the funding change as a positive step forward. “I’ve been working on the fire borrowing issue for almost eight years,” he said. “And we got it this year…That will help us deal with our catastrophic forest fires.”

Posted June 4, 2018

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Hausmann Makes History

On her 21st birthday, Sophie Hausmann was playing at the U.S. Women’s Open.

“It has been an amazing week,” Hausmann said in a news release.

The University of Idaho golfer finished 10-over, 154 (78, 76), for the tournament, playing in her first major championship.

“I got to meet some great people,” Hausmann said. “I had some Idaho fans here to cheer and support me and I was able to get a feel for what professional golf ‘feels’ and looks like.”

Hausmann was one of 29 amateurs who qualified for this year’s Open.

“I learned a lot this week even if it was not the score I was looking for,” Hausmann added. “I realized what I’m pretty good at, but also saw where I lose strokes against a talented field like this.”

“Sophie learned that she absolutely can compete at the professional level this week,” caddie and Idaho coach Lisa Johnson said. “This has been a tremendous experience for her and will undoubtedly prepare her for the next stage in her golf career. We were extremely proud of her tenacity this week on the grandest stage.”

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(Jaxon Evers photo, May 4, 2018)

With her two rounds at the Open, Hausmann became the first golfer from Idaho Women’s Golf to ever qualify for that tournament, capping a historic run in Idaho golf this season.

The Big Sky Player of the Year finished with a scoring average of 72.5, second in school history and No. 46 nationally. Hausmann had two wins, including her second individual Big Sky Conference championship, and five top-10 finishes.

Idaho won its second Big Sky team title in three years in 2018, earning the team a trip to the NCAA Madison Regional. Hausmann finished in a tie for 11th,  becoming the first Vandal to shoot under par at a regional in program history.

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(Jaxon Evers photo, May 4, 2018)

Hausmann qualified for the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open by finishing second at the sectional qualifier in Seattle, shooting even-par over the one-day, 36-hole tournament at Rainier Golf & Country Club and was honored as the low amateur.

Hausmann and Michelle Kim will be the two seniors leading the Vandals next season as the program aims for consecutive Big Sky Conference championships.

Posted June 3, 2018

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