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citydesk (3/11/09)


Library Blocks delayed

Capital City Development Corp. board of commissioners voted Monday to give developer Mark Rivers until December 2011 to start work on his Library Blocks development.

Rivers requested the two-year extension on the project—part of which would be built on land at Eighth and River streets that was owned by CCDC—due to the ailing economy. The building on CCDC's land was to include ground-floor retail and 218 condos, but the market for condos has tanked since the project was first proposed in 2006 and chosen by CCDC in February 2007.

"This should come as no surprise to anyone based on current and projected economic conditions," CCDC Development Manager Katina Dutton said.

Rivers has already received two extensions for the project. The board debated whether to make him pay a $10,000 extension fee.

"This extension fee is extremely nominal for the value of this land," Commissioner Patrick Shalz said. "I think if we don't put some skin in the game here, we'll continue to see extensions even if the market does improve."

But Boise City Councilman David Eberle disagreed, citing the economy. "It's not the developer's doing," he said.

Another major part of the Library Blocks project would be a new main library on the site of the current downtown library. Eberle said delaying the Library Blocks wouldn't ruin the city's plans for a new library because the city is still raising funds from philanthropists and may run a bond vote.

—Lora Volkert

Wolves re-re-delisted

The Obama administration, backing a last-minute Bush administration decision, agreed to remove wolves from the endangered species list, again paving the way for Idaho and Montana to manage their own populations.

"We can conserve wolves like we do other animals," said Jim Unsworth, deputy director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. "We're going to manage them down in some places, and in other areas, there will be little change."

This is the third time in recent history that Idaho officials lauded a pending delisting; wolves were set to be delisted in the final four days of the Bush administration, but Obama put that promise on hold soon after taking office, as his new administration reviewed all of Bush's regulatory decrees.

Almost a year ago, national environmental groups sued to reverse delisting, a request granted by a federal judge. Idaho Fish and Game has since provided the U.S. Department of Interior with additional data about genetic interchange between populations of wolves, Unsworth said.

Opponents are preparing to sue again. Ralph Maughan, president of the Wolf Recovery Foundation and editor of the Wildlife News Blog, based in Pocatello, said he could support delisting if the area where wolves were considered recovered were smaller and if the states' wolf plans were less punitive to the species.

"They could consider wolves to be a renewable resource, one whose numbers would stay basically the same," Maughan said. "They say they want to manage wolves like any other game species, but everything in their plan says that they are not going to manage wolves like other species."

—Nathaniel Hoffman

war in Iraq

U.S. CASUALTIES: As of Tuesday, March 10, 2009, 4,257 U.S. service members (including 31 Idahoans) have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 3,423 in combat and 834 from non-combat-related incidents and accidents. Injured service members total 31,102. In the last week, three U.S. soldiers died.

Since President Barack Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 28 soldiers have died.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Defense

IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS: Estimated between 91,060 and 99,433.


COST OF IRAQ WAR: $603,595,245,604