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California changes Fish and Game Commission after Idaho controversy 

Hunters in California can no longer use dogs to hunt bears and bobcats under one of several bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that relate to the state Department of Fish and Game.

Another bill Brown announced signing Sept. 26 changes the composition of the Fish and Game Commission in the wake of a controversy over the former commission president’s killing of a mountain lion in Idaho.

A third bill lets the department contract with nonprofit conservation groups to manage state-owned lands.

SB1221 by Democratic Sen. Ted Lieu of Torrance, which takes effect Jan. 1, allows the use of dogs to track nuisance animals, for research or if a wild animal enters a dog owner’s property. But the general hunting of bears and bobcats with hounds will no longer be allowed.

The Associated Press

INL cleanup company gets 3-year contract extension

The company overseeing an environmental cleanup project at the Idaho National Laboratory has been given three more years to continue its work.

The U.S. Department of Energy has agreed to extend its contract with CH2M-WG Idaho LLC through September 2015. The Post Register reports the value of the new deal is $730 million.

The company – also known as CWI – has headed the so-called Idaho Cleanup Project since 2005. Energy Department officials say CWI has completed nearly all of its projects ahead of schedule and under budget.

CWI is responsible for treating and disposing radioactive waste, managing spent nuclear facilities and remediating waste buried at the lab decades ago.

Cleanup Project Manager Jim Cooper says it’s in the public interest to keep CWI in its lead role.

The Associated Press

Climate scientists to meet in Boise

Climate scientists from around the Pacific Northwest will descend on Boise Oct. 1 and 2 for the Third Annual Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference at the Boise Centre.

The conference will provide a place for researchers, policy makers, industry leaders, and state and federal agency managers to discuss how climate change is affecting the Pacific Northwest, according to a news release.

In addition to the conference’s annual sessions on climate science, hydrology and conservation, organizers have added sessions on agriculture and human health to this year’s agenda.

There will be a session on implications of climate change for a U.S.-Canada treaty relating to Columbia River hydropower operations, and a session on helping researchers better communicate information about climate research to the community at large.

University of Idaho sponsors this year’s conference along with associated institutes such as the Idaho Water Resources Research Institute.

IBR staff

Event planner forms statewide organization

An Idaho event planner has started a statewide organization for event planners, with the goal of joining the national organization ISES, the International Special Events Society.

“There was a lack of cohesiveness among event professionals” in Idaho, said Danielle Snelson of Joie Events, who has created a Facebook page for her group, Idaho Event Professionals. The page has about 130 members, and about 40 people attend the group’s professional events, Snelson said.

“People were working at different ethical levels, and the quality of service was not competing with other markets,” Snelson said.

Event planners don’t need to be licensed or certified by the state. But Snelson said her group, which formed in February, is starting a chapter of ISES, which offers professional certification.

The group will provide education and training to event planners and will work with ISES chapters in neighboring cities such as Portland, Ore., and Seattle to share ideas and wisdom.

“It’s hard to connect with someone who does something similar to you as your competitor, but if you can connect with someone who does something similar in a different market, you can ask more in-depth questions,” said Snelson, who has been an event planner for six years.

The goal of the group is to raise the standard of event planning in Idaho, Snelson said.

“There are so many events at this town, and unfortunately I think some are poorly executed,” She said. “There are so many great causes. They need high-quality vendors producing these events, and this is the place to find them. “

IBR Staff

ITD starts prepping to replace Broadway Bridge

Downtown Boise’s Broadway Bridge was built in 1956 and is starting to show its age. The Idaho Transportation Department is meeting with businesses, city leaders and other stakeholders on replacing it.

ITD will hold a public meeting on the project later this year. The state’s transportation agency also plans to begin preparing preliminary designs and conducting environmental evaluations this year. Those designs could include widening.

Construction to replace the bridge is scheduled to start in late 2014 or early 2015 and be completed in the fall of 2015. The project also includes repaving Broadway Avenue from Front Street to University Drive, which is directly east of Bronco Stadium and Julia Davis Park. ITD estimates it will cost $16 million, which will come out of ITD’s regular roadwork budget.

The new bridge is built to have a 75-year lifespan. Inspectors have found signs of wear and small cracks on the bridge. The bridge carries 24,500 cars a day, with significantly higher traffic during BSU events, including football games.

The first Broadway Bridge was built in 1892, with trolley tracks laid down in 1905.

Brad Iverson-Long

Idaho revives effort to fight bacterial potato rot

The University of Idaho is reviving a group to fight a cyclical bacterial invasion that’s attacked the state’s potato fields with a ferocity not seen in a decade.

First the good news: Bacterial ring rot isn’t a public health risk.

But its potential to taint the appearance of Idaho’s signature agricultural crop with an unappetizing, cheese-like decay of the ring surrounding a tuber’s circulatory system makes it a feared arrival in any farmer’s field.

University of Idaho Extension seed potato specialist Phillip Nolte in Idaho Falls says growers contained outbreaks in 2002 and the 1990s by stepping up sanitation practices.

He’s looking for similar measures to control current infection rates that are heavy in some fields.

The outbreak’s full extent won’t be known until this year’s harvest later this fall.

The Associated Press

Math conference in Boise Oct. 27

Boise State University will play host to a national conference for the math crowd Oct. 27, bringing in experts from the west, northwest, Canada and Alaska.

The conference, called the Pacific Northwest Analysis Seminar, is in its 25th year, according to the event’s website.

Researchers and other experts from both the public and private sectors will share information on “numerical analysis and computational mathematics” at the event, the website states.

Idaho speakers include Ray A. Berry from the Idaho National Laboratory and Somantika Datta from the University of Idaho.

Registration is $15 and available for anyone at: https://sites.google.com/a/boisestate.edu/pnwnas2012/.

IBR Staff

12,000 Idahoans eligible for mortgage settlement

More than 12,000 Idaho residents who lost homes to foreclosure will soon receive claim forms for payments under a national settlement.

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced Sept. 25 that 12,207 Idaho borrowers who lost homes to foreclosure between 2008 and 2011 are eligible for payments of at least $840. Idaho was one of 49 states joining the federal government’s $25 billion settlement with five major mortgage lenders and servicing institutions for allegations of “robo-signing” and other problems.

Postcards from the settlement administrator went out the week of Sept. 17 to more than two million borrowers nationwide, informing them that they will get a claim form and other information soon. The amount of money that each eligible borrower receives depends on how many borrowers return claim forms.

The Associated Press

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