Campus news items: University research team examines climate change

Central Idaho’s Sawtooth mountain range after a late spring snowstorm.

Climate change poses challenges to many sectors of the Idaho economy — but also presents opportunities.

That’s the overriding conclusion from a team of researchers from the University of Idaho, Boise State University and Idaho State University. The U of I’s James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research synthesized the researchers’ two years of work into the Idaho Climate-Economy Impacts Assessment, a nonpartisan study designed to help political and business leaders plan for the future.

Researchers looked at how Idaho’s major economic sectors will be affected by changes in temperature, precipitation, snowpack, water supply, wildfire seasons and air quality.

Climate change will adversely affect some crops, for example, but growers also might have the  opportunity to look into new, more resilient crop varieties.

“As a global food and agriculture company, we know the impact that events like wildfires, hot, dry summers and a diminished water supply can have on our business, our state and our way of life,” said Garrett Lofto, president and CEO of the J.R. Simplot Co., one of the project’s funders.

“The Idaho Climate-Economy Impacts Assessment is unlike any other resource available in Idaho,” U of I President Scott Green said. “More than 50 researchers from the University of Idaho, Boise State University and Idaho State University collaborated with each other and other experts to reveal how the changing climate impacts Idaho’s financial health and provide resources that will help Idaho’s economy continue to thrive.”

NNU receives $1 million for free-market education center

Northwest Nazarene University will create an education center focused on teaching the classical principles of free-market economics.

The Ralph Smeed Memorial Foundation — named for a well-known Caldwell libertarian political activist — will provide $1 million for NNU’s Center for the Study of Market Alternatives.

“It was always Smeed’s wish to affiliate the center with a credible academic institution,” Smeed Foundation chairman Rick Coffman said in a news release. “His dream will live on through the NNU program. It is a fitting memorial to Ralph’s goal of educating people about the free market in contrast to relying on partisan politics to maintain the flame of economic liberty.”

Finance and economics professor Peter Crabb will direct the center, which will be housed in NNU’s business department.

Lewis-Clark gets go-ahead on dorm purchase

The State Board of Education last week gave Lewis-Clark the approval to purchase College Place, a 15-year-old dormitory next to campus.

A private party has owned the dorm, but Lewis-Clark has managed it for more than 10 years.

The 88-bed dorm is important to Lewis-Clark, as it seeks to meet student housing demand. Without College Place, college officials say, more than 100 students would have wound up on a waiting list for housing.

Recommending the purchase, State Board staff said the acquisition would give Lewis-Clark ownership of an “extremely strategic” property near the west side of the campus, while bringing the dorm space under the college’s complete control.

“This is a rare opportunity for the college,” staffers said in their report to State Board members.

The purchase could cost up to $5.2 million. Lewis-Clark will issue $4 million in bonds to offset much of this cost.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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