Obscure mountain ranges of southern Idaho, NW Utah, and Eastern Nevada

Updated Feb. 12, 2010. This has been a very popular post. I first posted it about 3 years ago, and now I have enlarged and updated it. Ralph Maughan

Ah the Tetons, Wind Rivers, Sawtooths and White Clouds, Wallowas, Bitterroots, Beartooth, and Unitas!
I love all the mountains. I decided to do a major photo essay on the little-known and often little-appreciated ranges of the NW Great Basin. I have left out the Wasatch Range, Ruby Mountains, Schell Creek Range, and Snake Range because I think they are much more prominent in the public’s eye.

Albion Range (Southern Idaho)-

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In the photo is Cache Peak, taken from near Almo, Idaho. Copyright © Ralph Maughan

This is an unusual range consisting mostly of just two big mountains, Mt. Harrison and Cache Peak (the highest mountain in Idaho south of the Snake River). The range is just east of Burley and Oakley, Idaho. The amazing Silent City of Rocks is at the range’s southern end.

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Greater Yellowstone Coalition proposes protections for Absaroka-Beartooth Front

Plan might copy relatively successful effort to conserve Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front-

Given the very scenic nature of much of the A-B Front, in a way it is surprising this proposal didn’t emerge earlier. Personally, I think it is a great idea.

Story in the Billings Gazette on plans to conserve the Absaroka/Beartooth Front.

Beartooth Front. Toward the two forks of the Rosebud River. copyright Ralph Maughan

 

Groups consider drilling lease buyouts in Wyoming Range

Wyoming Range Legacy Act didn’t protect 77,000 acres of the Wyoming Range. New approach to be tried?

A lot of folks thought the tremendous victory of The Wyoming Range Legacy Act signed by President Obama last year stopping new oil or gas leasing on 1.2 million acres in the Wyoming Range and Salt River Ranges put the drilling to rest, but no.  77,000 acres in the wildlife rich NW corner of the Wyoming Range had already been leased.

Because the government creates private property rights (out of public land) when it leases, to stop drilling an oil company has to give up or sell the leases.  As a result a number of conservation interests are seeking to try a buy out.

Saving these mountain ranges from drilling has been an issue that generally unites conservationists of all types, including hunting groups. May this rare success continue!

Story: Groups consider drilling lease buyouts in Wyoming Range. By Mead Gruver. Associated Press.

Posted in mountain ranges, oil and gas, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Groups consider drilling lease buyouts in Wyoming Range

Bighorns transplanted to WY Seminoe Mountains doing well

. . . and another transplant to this obscure mountain range planned-

We’ve been following this for about a year now, and it’s good to hear good news on bighorn sheep because so much has been bad.

Article on the transplants. By Jeff Gearino. Casper Star-Tribune in the Billings Gazette.

Seminoe Mountains BLM photo

Posted in Bighorn sheep, mountain ranges, Uncategorized, Wyoming. Tags: . Comments Off on Bighorns transplanted to WY Seminoe Mountains doing well

Opinion: Prominent Sawtooth Range peak, Mt. Heyburn, deserves a better name

The grand mountain ought not be burdened with the name of one of Idaho’s most short-sighted senators-

Weldon Heyburn, an Idaho U.S. Senator, back in days before the 17th Amendment (which the Tea Party now wants to repeal), is best known as a backward looking man who hated the creation of the U.S. Forest Service. Political Scientist John Freemuth suggests that Mt. Heyburn, a famous landmark of the fabled Sawtooth Range bears an improper name.

Renaming Mountains: Idaho’s Mt. Heyburn, For One, Deserves Better. “It’s time to change the legacy of a man who didn’t fight for the Sawtooths and stood in the way of the early Forest Service.” By John Freemuth, High Country News, Guest Writer.

I agree.

The Wolves to Come

This is my first time blogging here, and thanks to Ralph and Brian for sitting me down and inviting me. I’m going to try to attach a couple of photos to  this post, so you’ll know what I’m talking about here.

 

U.S. Forest Service photo, photographer Paul Gross

U.S. Forest Service photo, photographer Paul Gross

 

Here’s a picture of a bull and a cow elk.  No big deal, right? See them all the time in the Salmon River country, hardly worth wasting pixels on. But look again: look at the bull’s heavy body.  Look at the madrone tree behind the cow. These are Klamath River elk, Roosevelt elk, and they only returned to the Klamath-Siskiyou mountains about twenty years ago. So when I see this photo, I get a little verklempt.  It was taken just off the Bunker Hill Road, where I spent a lot of time doing silvicultural work in the 1970s and 1980s. In those days we never thought elk would be here again.  The conventional wisdom was that you couldn’t reintroduce elk because the flat lands near the river, where they once wintered, were occupied by people now. In the 1920s, some Rocky Mountain elk had been turned loose near Scott Valley, but they didn’t last long. So as we drove up that road — many times, struggling to make a series of clearcuts grow trees again — we didn’t think about elk.

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First wolf killed in SE Idaho

While the headline is not accurate, it is gratifying to see a wolf in Franklin Basin-

A sheepherder killed a wolf in the Bear River Range, east of Franklin, Idaho. This is right on the Idaho/Utah border and is certainly good news for wolves traveling south. I have had reports of wolves in the Franklin Basin area for ten years now. To avoid putting those killer radio collars on them, I have not reported them.

The headline in the story below (Idaho Statesman) is wrong. The body of the story below in fact indicates that. A wolf was shot by a Pocatello man back in 2003 in SE Idaho near Weston, Idaho, also right on the Utah border, but one mountain range to the west of this. That was in the foothills of the Bannock Range.

Wolf killed in Franklin Basin. Idaho Statesman. Note that there is a longer story in the Idaho State Journal (Pocatello), but it is not on line.

For those familiar with scenic Franklin Basin, they know it is overrun by domestic sheep.  I have been going there since I was a boy and the Logan (UT) Ranger District just lets it get worse and worse, harming recreation, scenery, and especially elk and deer habitat.  The Basin is mostly reduced to dust by mid-summer and inedible forbs like western coneflower and tall larkspur.  If folks would donate to the Western Watersheds Project, it should be known they have the goods on this disgusting situation and will sue their sorry butts.

Here is a photo of a nice spot in the Idaho portion of Franklin Basin.