From boaters to vineyards climate change affects all in Idaho

Ron and Mary Bitner took a chance when they started growing grapes for wine in Caldwell 29 years ago.

That's because Idaho's Snake River Valley, the highest elevation and coolest viticulture region in the Northwest, had winters too cold and a growing season too short for red wines. They started with just white wines, but since the launch of Bitner's Vineyards, Idaho's winters have warmed and the threat of winter freeze has reduced.

The growing season has gotten 20 to 30 days longer, and for the past 17 years the Bitners have been growing both reds and whites.

"It does seem like our red varieties like it," Bitner said of the changing climate. "We weren't able to grow the reds in Idaho when we started, and now we are."

Boise's average temperature has risen nearly one degree in the last century, triggering a series of changes inIdaho rivers, forests, range and farmland. You don't have to believe - as most of the world's scientists do - that the change is caused by increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere brought on by human activities - to realize something is happening.

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