Today it is 30 degrees colder than a couple days ago. It has rained widely in Idaho and western Montana. One to 2 inches fell on the massive Derby and Jungle fires south of Big Timber, MT.

It is not supposed to warm up again except just a little and more showers are predicted. The summer fire season is probably over. 8,779,061 acres have burned in the United States so far this year, compared to the 10-year average of 4,963,059 acres.

Nevada, which got little publicity, had the most acreage burned. Folks may say “well they are only range fires,” but range fires are devasting the West. Range fires used to be every 30 to 80 years, but the invasion of cheatgrass over a hundred million acres has altered the fire ecology, greatly favoring fire, and gradually burning out everything but more cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum).

Sept. 17 from Montana. Bozeman Chonicle. “Area closures lifted after fires peter out.”
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Here in SE Idaho today I drove 40 miles over to the Deep Creek Range to see the aftermath of the Rockland Fire. It was completely out and all the fire fighters gone, even though it was burning a week ago.

This is near the north end of the burn. They pretty well painted the mountain
with fire retardant. I don’t think this will be a damaging burn unless a lot of cheat-
grass invades. The mountains are very steep and rocky. Firelines like the one
cut up the slope in the photo can become a magnet for thoughtless off-road
vehicle riders. There are one of worst offenders in spreading weeds.
Photo Copyright © Ralph Maughan

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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September 2006


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey