Boundary Forest Fire, other Idaho fires highlighted in news story

The Trailhead Fire nearly Stanley, Idaho is hardly the only wildfire in Idaho. Idaho currently has more forest fires than any other state. Thick smoke covers about half the state. There are a number of fires larger than the Trailhead, and they have been very active.

Read more in the Challis Messinger. By Todd Adams. Click here

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Fast moving forest fire threatens Stanley, Idaho area

trailheadfireblowsup.jpg
The “Trailhead fire” comes boiling over the top of the Sawtooth Range into Stanley Basin.
Copyright Lynne Stone

The mountains around Stanley Basin and the Sawtooth Valley, Idaho, have, in recent years, witnessed a huge die-off of lodgepole pine. This relatively short-lived pine is plenty flammable even when it is green. When dead, it is explosive! Nowhere is the die off more visible to people than the big, dying apron of pine that cloaks the lower slopes of the famed Sawtooth Range.

Everyone knew this forest would die someday, and in recent years many (but not all) of the folks who own summer homes and cabins have thinned the trees around their places, and the Forest Service has conducted some fire danger reduction and salvage operations. Nevertheless, the supply of dead timber is vast and could accommodate a huge fire. I’m surprised it didn’t burn a couple years ago.
Last year, to my surprise it was the Valley Road fire in the nearby White Clouds that blew up, briefly threatening tiny Clayton, downriver from Stanley. Earlier, this year the Potato Fire mushroomed in the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River, also downriver from Stanley. Now the forest beneath the Sawtooths is threatened and 3000 acres on edge burned on August 24.

This is important wolf range. There are two wolf packs in the vicinity of the fire, but the wolves and the elk and deer they eat are not likely to harmed by a big burn, especially in the long run. Instead, the mid-term result will likely be the creation of a lot more summer elk habitat as grasses fill the burn.

It is notable that several other big fires have erupted nearby — the Red Mountain Fire, and the Boundary Fire (now named the Boundary Fire complex)

Update September 8. The winds never again threatened to push the fire directly into Stanley Basin. It was pushed onto the rocks, and it was contained at 4,252 acres.

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Yellowstone Druid Pack doing well this year

The Druid Peak Pack was once the largest known wolf pack, ever observed, with 37 wolves in the year 2001, but over the years members of the giant pack dispersed to form new packs, and then the long time alpha pair 21M and 42F died. 42F fell at the jaws of a rival pack and 21M, the well known alpha male just seemed to lay down a die several months later.

By the beginning of 2005 the pack was down to just 6 adults. In 2005 the much reduced pack had six pups, but they all died. The pack was pushed out of its traditional range, and its future looked grim, when as the winter of 2005-6 came with the pack reduced to just 4 adult wolves.

This last spring things looked even worse for the Druids when the larger rival pack, the Slough Creek Pack, denned, ready to produce more pups. A surprise to everyone, a new pack, called “the unknowns” showed up from unknown quarters and occupied the Slough Creek den site. As a result the Slough Pack, pupless, was disrupted.

The Druids were wary and appeared to take great care when approching their den site on a steep, forested mountain near Round Prairie in the NE corner of the Park. It was as though they did not want to reveal it to the Sloughs, who were licking their wounds or the “unknown pack.”

Surprisingly the Druids prevailed. The 4 Druid wolves crept up on the sleeping unknowns and give the interlopers a good licking. The unknowns soon disappeared for the area, and when the Druid Pack brought their new pup crop down from the heavily forested mountain to the meadows, there were an amazing 11 pups!

As summer came, the Druids went up to their traditional summering area, high on the east boundary of Yellowstone Park. There they are rarely seen by people, and seem to have no rival packs. Doug Smith, head of the Yellowstone wolf project, recently reported to me that unlike the 100% pup mortality last year, this year there is 100% survival. If this good fortune continues, the pack will soon be back among the largest in Yellowstone Park.

Oregon Moose population is booming

AP. State wildlife biologist Pat Matthews doesn’t have to see the moose to know they’re moving into Oregon from neighboring Idaho in record numbers.

The 118 piles of droppings he saw on a walk along an overgrown logging road in northeastern Oregon told the tale.

There may be about 30 moose, including eight bulls, in the northeast corner of Oregon, immigrants from Idaho.

There are probably more, Matthews said.

For the full story click here

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