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Burn ban on DNR forestland east of Cascades starts July 1

Burn ban on DNR forestland east of Cascades starts July 1

Another warning in the face of the upcoming Fourth of July weekend – the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has placed a burn ban on all DNR-protected land east of the Cascades.

Starting July 1 and running until September 30, the burn ban applies to all forestland under DNR fire protection.

“The seasonally dry weather creates a greater risk for wildfires,” said Commission of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “A burn ban helps to prevent them and protects forests, habitat and property.”

So far this year DNR has already had 172 wildfire starts, which have burned approximately 779 acres across the state.

The ban applies to all outdoor burning on DNR forestland with two exceptions:

Recreational fires in approved fire pits

Gas or propane stoves and barbecue grills

Fireworks and incendiary devices like exploding targets, sky lanterns or tracer ammunition are also illegal.

Shoshone County Sheriff launches blog about the way things work

Shoshone County Sheriff launches blog about the way things work

If you've ever wanted to get a peak behind the scenes into the inner workings of your local law enforcement agency, here's your chance.

Shoshone County Sheriff's Office launched their own blog last Friday, written by none other than Sheriff Mitch Alexander himself.

“We get a lot of questions from citizens about various aspects of our job, and most of the time they're so complicated,” said Sheriff Alexander. “It's my dream to take one of these issues every week and give my opinion on it. On why these things work and try to educate people on the happenings of the county and how the sheriff's office works.”

Sheriff Alexander says he's already come up with a list of about 40 different topics he wants to cover.

“The issues I'll write about will cover our budget, jail, communications, civil, patrol, drivers license, search and rescue and courts amongst others,” he announced in the first official blog.

Judge: State can use Priest Lake appraisals

An Idaho judge says the state can use its most recent appraisals to set lease payments and minimum bids for the sale of cabin sites around Priest Lake.

A group of more than 70 lessees sued the state in April seeking to bar it from using the higher appraisal amounts. The lessees argued they had a constitutionally protected property right to renew their cottage site leases.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports District Judge Barbara Buchanan ruled Friday that the Supreme Court has made it clear the Idaho Constitution prohibits recognition of any property right in a lease of state endowment land.

The court also ruled the state is obligated to manage the property for maximum long-term returns to the endowment's beneficiaries, including public schools.

Priest Lake cabin owners sue over land valuation

The owners of 76 cabins built on state land around a northern Idaho lake are suing over the way the state determined the land's value.

The Spokesman-Review reports the lawsuit argues the state is including the value of improvements such as access roads and utility lines that renters paid to have installed at cabin sites on Priest Lake.

The appraised value will be the minimum bid for possible auctions and will be used as the basis for future rental costs.

The state argues renters have no property rights that can be violated, since the land is owned by the state.

Court documents say the average rent on Priest Lake would increase from $9,915 to $17,850 next year under the new appraisals. The lawsuit seeks to stop the state from using the new appraised values.

Suspect sought in Worley shooting

Coeur d'Alene tribal police are searching for a 22-year-old man suspected in a weekend shooting in Worley that injured another man.

Officers responding to a reported domestic dispute in Worley on Saturday found a trail of blood in the house.

Tribal police say Timothy Ray Allen Jr. is suspected of shooting another man in the groin area. Officers say he should be considered armed and dangerous.

Allen is 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs 153 pounds. His criminal history includes assault and eluding law enforcement officers. He also has a warrant for his arrest on parole violations.

Tribal police spokeswoman Heather Keen says the victim is a member of another tribe living in the Worley area. She did not know if the two men knew each other.

Wildfire fighters train for the season

Wildfire fighters train for the season

Wildfire season is underway but what does it take to brave the front lines and fight those fires?

Stepping up to fight wildfires is a bold move.

"You pretty much dedicated your summer if you decide to do this," said Veronica Naccarato, wildfire fighter.

Not to mention the danger. Veronica Naccarato has been fighting fires for five seasons.

Friday she helped train more than 30 new firefighters.

"I started what's called a practice fire, just kind of gets them prepared for going out in a real life fire," said Naccarato.

The live burn exercise is the last part to a week long intensive training program.

Veteran firefighters say it is the most important test of the week.

"Live fire exercises at these guard schools are extremely important because once they leave here training is over and as soon as tomorrow they could be on an actual wildfire," said Josh Tellessen, wildfire fighter.

The trainees are from agencies throughout the area. Their ages range from 18 to 60, some are college students and others are just passionate about the environment, but now they all have the same goal.

Exploratory drilling planned at N. Idaho mountain

The U.S. Forest Service has given an Australia-based mining company permission to conduct exploratory drilling at eight locations at Hall Mountain in northern Idaho to search for rare earth elements.

The agency tells the Bonner County Daily Bee in a story on Friday that MMG Limited plans to start drilling in July.

Officials say the company hopes to develop a three-dimensional model of subsurface mineral deposits.

Additional steps would be needed if the company decides it wants to develop a mine.

U.S. Geological Survey officials say Hall Mountain contains tons of thorium as well as veins of rare earth elements.

Some area residents oppose the mine due to pollution concerns.

The Idaho Conservation League tried to stop the exploratory drilling out of concern it would displace threatened grizzly bears.