• David Frazier's memoir of Vietnam, "Drafted!", is multilayered - from the days of war in the 60s to return visits as a photography - and as complex as the place itself.
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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for May 22. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

May 2017 Idaho General Fund receipts were $210.2 million, which was a 12.2% increase from the previous May. This month’s collections topped the forecasted $195.1 million by $15.2 million (7.8%). The stronger-than-expected showing raised the fiscal year-to-date receipts to $3,087.3 million, which is $64.7 million (2.1%) above the projected $3,022.6 million and 8.1% higher than in May 2016.

Representative Mike Simpson and Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader reintroduced the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, legislation which would fix the current budgeting process for wildfires.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, late yesterday, signed a Secretarial Order 3353 to improve sage-grouse conservation and strengthen communication and collaboration between state and federal governments. Together, the Federal government and states will work to conserve and protect sage-grouse and its habitat while also ensuring conservation efforts do not impede local economic opportunities.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter hailed a federal magistrate’s recent decision denying a motion from Friends of the Clearwater to block the U.S. Forest Service’s proposed Orogrande Community Protection Project on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest.

State regulators have approved a settlement calling for the early retirement of a coal plant co-owned by Idaho Power.

PHOTO Kyler Brabec, who recently graduated from wildland fire school, survey’s his first fire. (photo/Bureau of Land Management)

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Water rights weekly report for May 22. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

California lawmakers acted decisively Tuesday to make fixes to the state’s broken water management structure. Assembly Bill 313, introduced by Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced), overwhelmingly passed the California Assembly with an initial 55-0 vote. The bill makes necessary reforms to how the state manages water rights.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began flood fight operations throughout the Central U.S., along the Mississippi and tributary rivers, in response to heavy rainfall on April 28-30 . High water flows are impacting navigation and stressing federal and non-federal levee systems.

The Bureau of Reclamation announces that Klamath River emergency dilution flows will not be required in 2017 to mitigate the effects of a parasite called Ceratanova shasta (or C. shasta) on outmigrating juvenile salmon. The announcement is made following weeks of monitoring parasite spore concentrations and prevalence of C. shasta infection among outmigrating salmon, and monitoring conducted by Oregon State University, the Karuk Tribe and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Bureau of Reclamation has released the Finding of No Significant Impact for the approval to transfer recaptured Restoration Flows from Friant Division long-term contractors to Pleasant Valley Water District during 2017. The FONSI is based on the analysis of potential impacts analyzed and disclosed in the 2013 Recirculation of Recaptured Water Year 2013-2017 San Joaquin River Restoration Program Flows Environmental Assessment.

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for May 22. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

A visit from the federal secretaries of Interior and Agriculture spotlighted the problem of wildfires, of which Idaho is just now starting to see its first this season. 2017 could be a relatively light fire year, however, given the heavy precipitation and still-large snowpack.

On May 31, the State Board of Education announced a revised process for selecting the inaugural Board of Trustees for the College of Eastern Idaho. Based on community interest and feedback from local leaders, the State Board will expedite the selection of trustees, allowing the new community college to begin operations sooner.

The Idaho Fish and Game commission reopened spring Chinook salmon fishing on portions of the Clearwater River and the Little and Lower Salmon Rivers starting June 3 with several changes to the previous seasons that closed May 24.

Representative Raul Labrador launches his campaign for governor on May 30 at events around Idaho, including at Post Falls Boise, and Idaho Falls.

The Bureau of Reclamation is increasing flows in the upper Snake River below Jackson Lake and Palisades dams because of continued warmer than normal temperatures that have resulted in increased spring runoff from snowmelt.

Mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus were detected in Bannock County on June 1, 2017, prompting health officials to remind people to take precautions to fight the bite. he positive mosquitoes, which are the first detected in the state this year, were collected by the Bannock County Mosquito Abatement District.

State regulators have determined that nearly $10 million spent by Avista Utilities on energy-efficiency programs in Idaho in 2014 and 2015 was prudently incurred.

The city of Nampa invites members of the community to give their opinions about local transportation needs at an afternoon workshop on Thursday, June 8.

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for May 22. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

With Memorial Day coming up, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced on May 23 that the Idaho Division of Veterans Services has launched an effort to identify all Idaho monuments and memorials honoring the military and veterans.

The Idaho Water Resource Board has approved spending $109,273 with Ralston Hydraulic Services Inc. of Moscow for the second phase of the Lewiston Regional Deep Aquifer Study.

On May 24 the House Judiciary Committee approved a robust immigration enforcement bill introduced by Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Vice-Chairman Raúl Labrador (R-ID) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). Their legislation, the Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act (H.R. 2431) was approved by a vote of 19-13.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has announced a $33 million multi-state settlement with Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson concerning the way they represented certain over-the-counter drugs between 2009 and 2011. Idaho’s portion of the settlement is just over $430,000.

Migration conditions in the lower Columbia River and a late run have challenged Fish and Game’s normal process for setting Chinook salmon seasons. Fisheries managers closed the spring/summer Chinook season as a precaution on May 24 on all rivers, except Hells Canyon, due to low numbers of Chinook counted at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River.

Representative Mike Simpson discussed important Idaho issues with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell during a hearing held by the House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee.

PHOTO Idaho State University’s Holt Arena will undergo a $536,000 lighting upgrade this summer, replacing two older lighting systems with 85 LED lighting fixtures. (photo/Idaho State University)

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Water rights weekly report for May 22. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

The New York Times on May 27 published a guest opinion from an environmental activist concerned about the future of water releases into the Upper Delaware river system in New York’s Catskills. Jeff Skelding of the Friends of the Upper Delaware wrote that “the Upper Delaware is a fragile ecosystem, and now it is threatened by a bitter dispute between New Jersey and New York City over water availability, and how much should be released into the river for the fishery and downstream states from reservoirs that provide water to the city.”

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper on May 21 signed into law Senate Bill 117, aimed at allowing use of water stored in federal reservoirs. Use of water for growing hemp or cannabis from those reservoirs, even by long-time water right holders, has been called into question because, though both are legal to grow in Colorado under state law, they still are considered highly restricted substances under federal law.

What happens when water users sell off their water rights, over a large area? That has been happening, to a degree at least, in southern Colorado’s Arkansas River area. A story by the area’s National Public Radio station noted that “Without many water rights left there, Heimerich says current residents rely heavily on a single correctional facility for access to full-time jobs. He calls Crowley County the poster child of an agricultural community that’s lost much of its water.”

A May report in the Arizona Capitol Times said Governor Doug Ducey plans to increase staffing at the state Department of Water Resources, main in the area of federal water adjudications. That may presage a more aggressive stance by the state on regional water allocations.

The Idaho Water Resource Board has approved spending $109,273 with Ralston Hydraulic Services Inc. of Moscow for the second phase of the Lewiston Regional Deep Aquifer Study.

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for May 22. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Idaho Falls will be getting a full community college after the election last week, when the voters of Bonneville County decisively approved the proposal.

Lieutenant Governor Brad Little – in his capacity as acting governor – on May 19 signed an executive order today directing a sweeping review of Idaho’s occupational licensing requirements.

Significant drops in the number of unemployed Idahoans and people looking for work pushed the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate down to 3.4 percent in April, narrowing an already tight labor market even further.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter on May 18 announced that President Donald J. Trump signed a Presidential Disaster Declaration today for eight northern and north-central Idaho counties, triggering the release of federal funds to help communities recover from flooding that occurred March 6-28.

Snake River flows below Minidoka and Milner dams will be decreasing from today through May 18, to end flow passing Milner Dam. The Idaho Water Resource Board suspended Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer recharge operations on May 18, effective immediately.

Anglers should soon know the fate of the 2017 spring Chinook run, and how much longer the spring fishing season will continue. Fisheries managers plan to re-evaluate the season after seeing how many chinook cross Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, which is the first dam the fish cross that are bound for Idaho.

PHOTO A group of activists stand at the Grove Convention Center in Boise. (photo/United Vision for Idaho)

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Water rights weekly report for May 22. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

From U.S. Representative Scott Tipton, a perspective piece on water rights: “Too often, issues like forest management and water rights don’t make it into the news, but they have profound impacts on Coloradans. I remain committed to ensuring voices from the West are heard in the policy discussions happening in Washington.”

The Montana Farm Bureau on May 19 released a statement supporting the Water Rights Protection Act, which would eliminate a requirement that certain grazing water rights be released to federal agencies in return for permissions to graze.

At the Oroville Dam in northern California: “The flood control spillway flow is currently at 20,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). Inflow is approximately 12,946 cfs. Current lake elevation is at 829.98 feet. Hyatt Powerplant is currently discharging 5,000 cfs. Total Feather River flow is 19,550 cfs.”

An ambitious Nevada water management bill, Assembly Bill 298, appears to have ground to a halt in the Nevada legislative process for this year.
It did pass the state Assembly on April 26 by a vote of 26-16, but may have run aground in the Senate.

PHOTO Spillway from the Oroville Dam in California (from the California Department of Water Resources)

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for May 15. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

U.S. Representative Raul Labrador on May 9 filed paperwork with the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office to run for governor in 2018. He joins a field of Republicans which already includes Lieutenant Governor Brad Little, former state Senator Russ Fulcher and Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist.

Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch on May 8 welcomed the nomination of Idaho District Judge David C. Nye of Pocatello by President Donald Trump to fill the open U.S. District Court judgeship in Idaho.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry on May 8 and 9 toured the Idaho National Laboratory, visiting a number of facilities at the installation and talking with groups of employees there.

Idaho Power has filed a settlement stipulation with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission related to early retirement of the North Valmy coal-fired power plant and an associated plan for cost recovery.

Acting Governor Brad Little has declared a state of disaster emergency for Custer, Elmore and Gooding Counties as of May 10.

PHOTO Representative Raul Labrador (center, standing) files paperwork at the Idaho secretary of state’s office to run for governor. Here he talks with Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (left), with whom he served in the Idaho House. (photo/Labrador campaign)

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Water rights weekly report for May 15. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

Oklahoma state is facing a budget deficit. Should it sell some of its waster rights to thirsty Texas to help balance the books? The idea is coming up for discussion again partly because of proposals by former Oklahoma Governor David Walters.

A new study finds that when it comes to allocating water from the Upper Deschutes River for irrigation purposes, less is more. Findings indicate that the current system encourages inefficient use of water by senior water rights holders and very efficient use of water by junior water rights holders, resulting in higher crop yields and economic value on farms that have implemented practices to improve water use efficiency.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army sent a letter to governors today soliciting input from states on a new definition of protected waters that is in-line with a Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in the 2006 Rapanos v. United States case. Scalia’s definition explains that federal oversight should extend to “relatively permanent” waters and wetlands with a “continuous surface connection” to large rivers and streams.

The governing board of trustees of the College of Southern Idaho at Twin Falls decided May 9 to buy water rights to Pristine Springs, a nearby geothermal aquifer.

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Water rights weekly report for May 1. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

The National Park Service is putting its water shortage action plan into effect, following the state’s call to cease withdrawing water from Annie Creek. Crater Lake National Park staff are asking all visitors and employees to use water wisely during the water supply shortage.

The San Luis Obispo Coastkeepers and Los Padres ForestWatch, two central-coastal California environmental groups, on May 5 sued the Santa Maria Water Conservation District to demand a different schedule on water be released to help with preservaton of the Southern California steelhead trout.

A First Nations geographer, a legal historian and a global expert on water access and sustainability will be asking — and answering — big questions about water at the Calgary Institute for Humanities (CIH) 37th annual community forum, May 12. The forum, Water in the West: Rights to Water/Rights of Water, will explore environmental concerns about water and First Nations’ perspectives on the precious resource. “First Nations are tremendously impacted by water issues, from access to clean water to resource development. And of course there’s also a spiritual dimension to water in almost every culture,” says Jim Ellis, a professor of English and director of the CIH, whose mission is to support and promote the values of humanities-based research.

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