Three fires now actively burning in Yellowstone

Although the Owl Fire has been contained and personnel demobilized, the Beaverdam, Columbine 1, and new Promontory Complex are burning rapidly. All three are SE Yellowstone backcountry fires. Folks will recognize The Promontory, which sticks out into Yellowstone Lake. It is on fire.

Here is the Park’s wildfire page.

The Inciweb Page is usualy better, but it is overloaded and hard to access due to the demand for fire information.

Beaverdam Fire. Info is six days old on 8/12

Beaverdam Fire. Credit Yellowstone National Park.

Columbine 1 Fire. Updated on August 13, 2007. Text is now correct.

Study: Antelope flourish in gas fields

Study: Antelope flourish in gas fields. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune environmental reporter.

The headline is contradicted by the very first paragraph of the story.  “JACKSON — Antelope do not appear to be unduly stressed so far on and around the Pinedale Anticline, but increased energy activity may change their use of the area, according to recent results of an ongoing study.”

“Unduly stressed so far” is not the same as “flourish.”

Nevertheless, this study raises hope that the gas developments might not wipe out the pronghorn in the area.  Snow depth and the presence of fences seem to be more important than gas development so far.

While most readers are probably aware of the impact of fences on pronghorn, it should be reiterated that pronghorn and fences do not mix. Pronghorn, though very swift, do not jump fences over 3 feet high. They try to crawl under them.  A relatively benign fence for pronghorn is a wire fence with no barbs on the bottom strand with that strand being at least 18 inches above the ground. Most of pronghorn killer fences are associated with sheep grazing, with coyote proof woven fences being the worst.

Additional info. Pronghorn Management Guide – 2006 (fences). Game and Fish Department of North Dakota. This has good illustrations.

More on this year’s Western fires

2007 fire conditions are off the charts

Officials are finding it difficult to predict fire behavior because this year’s data don’t fit any model. Experts say climate change is a big part of this season’s extremes. By Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman.

Busy Week for Fires in Northern Rockies. Record-Breaking Fire Season? New West. By David Nolt.

New fire threatens home in Southeast Idaho [near Preston]; 14 other fires rage. By Tessa Schweiger. Idaho Statesman.

My view is that a century of bad grazing practice, suppression of forest fires, logging with little consideration of its effects (positive or negative) on future fuel conditions are major factors, but number one is the drying and warming climate. This makes the fight against cheatgrass, the need to restore native grasses and forbs, conservation of large trees in unlogged areas, and judicious thinning (not just any kind of thinning) of forests more important than ever. Read the rest of this entry »