Feedlot manager hearing begins

POCATELLO (AP) -- Federal prosecutors say a Southern Idaho feedlot manager convicted of violating drinking water laws was pumping contaminated waste water into the aquifer below his operation.

Cory King, co-owner of Double C Farms near Burley, was convicted in April on four counts of injecting fluids into the aquifer without a permit and one count of making a false statement to investigators. King is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

But on Monday, Nov. 2, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill presided over an evidentiary hearing in the case.

During the trial, the judge barred any evidence related to the exact contents of the fluids injected into the aquifer. But prosecutors contend those fluids were waste water that tested positive for E. coli bacteria.

Defense attorneys say tests on the fluids were flawed.

Wolf zone closed; hunters reach limit

BOISE (AP) -- Hunters reached the five-wolf limit in Eastern Idaho's Upper Snake Wolf Zone, prompting state wildlife managers to close the season there.

Two other zones were also approaching their limits Monday, Nov. 2. In the McCall-Weiser Zone, with a limit of 15 wolves, 14 wolves have been taken. And in the Palouse-Hells Canyon Zone, with a limit of five, two have been taken, leaving three.

Across Idaho, wildlife managers are allowing hunters to shoot a total of 220 wolves, but in 12 different hunting zones. So far, 86 wolves have been killed statewide.

Hunters haven't been so successful in some regions where managers had hoped to see them reduce wolf numbers.

For instance, in the Lolo Zone, where wolves and poor habitat have been blamed for reducing elk numbers, the wolf limit is 27 animals, but hunters there have only killed five of the predators.

Patterns found in wet-dry cycles

LOGAN, Utah (AP) -- Researchers at Utah State University said they have found a predictable pattern to the wet-dry cycles of Northern Utah.

The discovery of a rhythm could be useful in helping to manage crops, reservoirs and water use, said Rob Gillies, the director of the Utah Climate Center.

Gillies and his team studied suspected patterns against temperature measurements, precipitation readings, tree-ring data and Great Salt Lake levels. They looked at almost 1,000 years of data and found a relationship between sea-surface temperatures in a specific area of the Pacific Ocean and rainfall and snowfall in Northern Utah.

The research suggests a 12-year cycle with a three-year delay. As the Pacific temperatures head toward their lowest, precipitation in Northern Utah starts to increase. And a drought begins when ocean temperatures approach their warmest.

The team's findings have been published in Geophysical Research Letters and Journal of Climate.

The USU team also found two more precipitation cycles, one 40 years long, the other 150 years long.

Researchers found that the three cycles fell in line at the same time in the early 1980s, when Northern Utah was hit with record precipitation, followed a few years later by higher-than-ever shoreline levels at the Great Salt Lake and flooding in downtown Salt Lake City.

Gillies' team also noticed that in the past 60 years or so Northern Utah hasn't experienced the severe droughts that have been typical in the region.

The findings roughly follow a wet-dry pattern the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District has seen over the years, said Richard Bay, general manager of the district, which serves more than 600,000 customers.

"It's not a total answer," Bay said. "But it would be a big help in predicting water supplies."

The finding of a link between sea-surface temperatures and precipitation cycles can also help guide future water use.

Utah is dealing with a fast-growing population and the prospect of drier periods that could come with climate change, said National Weather Service hydrologist Brian McInerney.

"If you can plan for what's coming, you can make it easier," McInerney said.

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