Roundup of wildfires burning in Idaho. Aug. 16, 2007

Updates on major Idaho firesIdaho Statesman

Seventeen fires and fire complexes are burning on more than 632,269 acres in Idaho, the National Interagency Fire Center said.






  1. kt Avatar

    Has anyone heard anything about a new fire in the southern part of Laidlaw Park on the west side of Craters of the Moon National Monument? Looked on the INciweb site and couldn’t find it, but I am not sure of what name it has been given. I understand there was dry lightning yesterday, and a lot of that area is now burning. Part of Laidlaw burned in a big 2005 fire when an agency contractor’s vehicle set the grass ablaze. Sage Grouse populations there had already been crashing even before the 2005 fire …. a result of far too many sheep and cattle and water developments. AND past misbegotten BLM veg treatments to reduce sagebrush to grow cow grass …

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I don’t know, but grrrrr !

    Inciweb is down a lot and hard to access. I think it is just being overrun by all the people wondering about fires for reason’s like your’s, because they may be threatened by one, or are generally interested in the extraordinarily intense season in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah.

    P.S., KT, what did you find out about the reseeding of the Murphy fire?

  3. kt Avatar

    Oh – so maybe it is the inciweb site, and not my computer …

    Well, the seeding for the Murphy Complex Fire: that is the million dollar question. Or several million dollar question, to be exact.

    There are more unburned islands of sagebrush vegetation in some areas than originally thought – so that is good news. And in some areas the burn was not as severe as first thought and may not require seeding.

    BLM has a seed list for the whole Twin Falls District. Prominent on it are Vavilov Siberian wheatgrass, Bozoisky wild rye, Hycrest crested wheatgrass, and other exotic cow grasses. Below these species on the list are native cultivars.

    BLM is being close-lipped about what they are doing. I imagine the rehab team will actually make fairly reasonable recommendations that will get axed by the politicoes – the various associate/assistant/ whatever State directors.

    There should be more info next week.

    Never underestimate the ability of 10 or 11 public land ranchers in the Jarbidge, though – many with the name of Brackett – to get what they want.

    For example, the horrendous new Kempthorne/Caswell Categorical Exclusion policy that was finalized just a few days after Salazar withdrew the hold, and Caswell became BLM head. That is said to be primarily a bone thrown to the whining Idaho, Utah and Nevada ranchers. It was languishing and thought dead – and now there is minimal envtl review for Oil and Gas, grazing permits, Veg Treatments, etc.

    BLM is already aerially seeding some big firebreaks – with crested or Siberian wheatgrass or some other monster plants that produce a lot of hazardous fuel – before the public has even had a chance to review just what is planned. Hard to understand why – since the wind and blowing soil – until it rains good – will just swallow up the seed. I think they are trying to sneak as much exotic seed on as possible here. And the circumstances surrounding some of the breaks and backfires may be interesting … and that raises a whole other set of questions …

    Stay tuned …

  4. Dante Avatar

    The Laidlaw fire, whatever it is called was burning yesterday as I left work from the Site. There were huge plums of smoke so it must be fairly large. The winds were also in the 20 – 30 mph range. I heard that this fire is not burning in the area where cattle and livestock have been because there is so much lava that it is nearly impossible for livestock to access. My resources claim that livestock have not grazed on the western side of the craters for a number of years so not all can be blamed on livestock. It is just a very nontypical hot, dry summer without any significant moisture.

  5. Wolfy Avatar

    Hello All, I’m not going to debate who is at fault for the fires. That’s too much politics for me. There is some merit in having a say on how the federal lands will be managed after the fires come through. The voices of the few should not shout down the wishes of the many. Or we may have the same situation in next year. I say we because its our federal land; not that I live in ID or MT, but my taxes, like everyone else’s taxes go to fight these fires and manage the federal lands.

    The national fire/insurance/congressional machine is running at 100% now. And a huge hurricane may be coming for Texas. The new, downsized gov’t agencies can’t handle the workload now; let alone adding another national disaster like a hurricane. Frankly, folks, we’re getting screwed out of $$millions of dollars to re-build Iraq, and parts of our own country are heading towards third world status or are already there (i.e. the gulf coast after Katrina).

    We need a government that will serve to protect its citizens and our homeland. We need a new leadership in Washington that will spend our $$ wisely and not on pork and this god-forsaken war. We need the feds to serve the American people instead of the other way around. The agencies need permanent budget line items for fire fighting, disaster preparedness, and recovery.

    The feds need to start hiring more competent people and fund them to do their work. The experiment of turning the management of our federal lands and disaster relief over to private industry and the insurance corporations has failed. The time has come for the feds to step back in and do their jobs. If a politician supports privatization, boot him/her out of office. Demand that the politicos do their jobs and start giving us leadership and stop lining their own pockets.

  6. kim kaiser Avatar

    “and parts of our own country are heading towards third world status or are already there (i.e. the gulf coast after Katrina).”

    hate to disappoint you there Chief,,, New Orleans was a dump before the storm,,,,if you want to place all your bets on the reporting or anderson cooper, who goes to one neighborhood that was in the storm, you have limited vision!!! Missississippi coast is coming along fine,, the other areas of New Orleans that suffered damage are moving along as well,,They are going about there business getting there lives and homes togethe,the part of new orleans that was damaged was almost third world before the storm,,,,, New orleans is bogged down BECAUSE of too many politicians/reverends, and you WANT MORE!!!!!all with there greedy hands out,, trying to take a piece for themselves,,,,get a book on louisiana politics/ccorruption for the last 75 years,, and you will see why new orleans will be many years behind the coast,..

    I persoanlly am sick and tired of the Katrina excuse….i live down near there,,,.. The Govt overpaid millions and millions to non affected people,, but lord help them if they had denied the payments,,every liberal whine group in the country would have been beating there drum if the govt HAD denied or told people we need to do just a little bit of research to see if payments were appropriate, they would have been chasitised as badly,, so which way do you want it?????? ,, some of those millions you claim lost are in the hands of crooks, bums, no counts, and thieves that took advantage of the situation, and laughing all the way to the bank,,,,,and now you blame the govt,,,,,,,check the fraud losses and overpayments reported by the govt,,,,

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Kim is partly right, I think, in that there were and are many preexisting conditions that fated New Orleans to a slow and sloppy recovery.

    Nevertheless, those former students of mine who have worked with FEMA since Katrina, believe the agency is incompetent and very wasteful. New Orleans may be hard case, period; but FEMA will not shine in any large disaster.

    So Wolfy’s right too, except he is too general. The problem is the years of incompetent Republican rule with their disdain for science and, indeed, for any kind of expertise, plus their reliance on staffing the agencies with political hacks. And, yes, they have drained the Treasury on behalf of their continued involvement in the civil war in Iraq.

  8. kim kaiser Avatar

    I will make two more points here and bow out,, fed govt both dem and rep administrations,have been sending money to Louisiana for years for levee work,,not jsut in new orleans, but all along the mississippi river where levees need maintenance and oversight, the entire run of LA from arkansas down,, however,, LA has these things called LEVEE BOARDS,, elected groups of local businessmen/women to administer levee oversight,, backslapping, back room acitivies for contracts for dirtwork, culverts, construction,, the whole gamut of levee maintenance has been a part of the good ole boy system of louisana politics for MANY MANY years,,occasionally,, some go to jail,,not often though!!! ever heard of The Kingfisher,,, ole La Politician named HUGHEY LONG!!! Lets put it this way,, i loathe the clintons,,,, and they method of power mongering,,, but even i would nt have blamed them for the levee disaster that occurred down there,, and that is saying something,,,,,it simply isnt one adminstrations fault,,,!!!! its many years of systemic political abuse at all levels,,,In addition,, most local leadership is democratic!!!!

    as for FEMA,, sure it has its problems,,so does social security admin, ,, it or any other govt agency is/are too large with beaurocracy to move fast enough, with enough people to have had any measureable affect to the scale of Katrina, small things may have been chaged here or there, You cant possibly understand the difficutly of trying to find people to make arrangements to get to there homes with so much power outage, phone outage, tower outage, water contamination, etc.. you simply cant quantify make outsiders understand how enormous a situation it was.. but to have done all that every one wanted to have done and whined about simply couldnt be done,,logistically,, highway wise, access wise, New Orleans is a nightmare due to its watery outlying regions,,, again, I live in the area,, I worked the Storm for months,, and you simply cannot fathom the size of the complications involved, cities and towns with in 250 miles had to deal with the exodus,,,,displacement, traffic and crime problems, and strains on the infrastructures within 250 miles of new orleans that several hundred thousand people can cause, they needed the govt help as well,,THIS SIMPLY WASTN JUST A NEW ORLEANS THING!!!!, NO GOVT agency or admin could have handled ALL the major problems this storm caused.,, there has never been an emergency of this scale in our country and to expect a report card of all A’s is pipe dreaming,,,,,and that is what everyone wanted,,everyting back to normal in three weeks!!!!!.. again, if you listen to anderson cooper and jeraldo,, you would think it was one neightborhood,, but it was much more involved than that,,,,, and to sit in oregon or wherever and armchair based on selected news reports is just like accepting the bar room bioligist opinions on the way wolves have decimated the elk!!!!,,,,its uninformed subjective opinion or disdain because you dont like a particular administration,,,

  9. Wolfy Avatar

    Whoa! I feel like I just went through a hurricane. My issue is that the government is not and has not been prepared for the kind of national catastrophes that have hit this nation in the last few years. Katrina was just one example of how we do not have enough skilled government people to even begin to deal with these disasters. It’s a process that has been in place since the Reagan years. The government has been down-sizing for a couple decades now. No single administration is driving this initiative.

    However, many of the career politicians that served since the time of Reagan (or before) are still in powerful positions in congress. There is a direct effort to cut government jobs and replace vital functions (i.e. fire and disaster relief) with contractors. Our military is a prime example. Most of the vital functions including combat are being divvied out to contractors. Did you know that the military is even contracting snipers in Iraq?

    These contractors are many times outside of the normal command structure of the government and have very little reporting requirements to the government. Did you know that most of the FEMA employees that settle insurance claims in disasters are actually contractors?

    My parents lost there home in FL after it was hit by three hurricanes a couple years ago. Their insurance would not pay because it was the rain that damaged their house, not the hurricane. The government insurance would not pay because they didn’t lose their house in a flood. They were forced to sell there land at a huge loss and leave. If they didn’t, they would probably still be living in a refugee tent. The government and the private insurance industry let them down.

    I’m not talking about whining liberals that haven’t gotten their hot tub replaced after it was destroyed; I’m saying that there are many people out there without basic services.
    Fires have devastated other areas. And are continuing to devastate peoples lives. Many cannot afford to just rebuild and go on with their lives; many insurance claims are being denied because of bureaucracy and red tape.

    Kim, I need you to redirect you anger away from me and towards the issues at hand. Your comments are laced with stereotypes and thinly veiled insults. I think that you worked yourself up into a lather because I mentioned Katrina. I meant no offence to you or anyone else that lives on the gulf coast. Lets try to focus on the issue at hand and not get into a pissing match. Deal?

    Ralph, Yes, I was too general. It’s a big issue and I didn’t go into details. But I gotta believe that we can turn all this corruption, bumbling, and incompetence around. Someone has to put pressure on the leadership in congress to address these issues and to make positive changes in the system. We need to make sure that the government is accountable and that it is doing its job. Otherwise, what other choices do we have?

  10. kim kaiser Avatar

    no problem there Wolfy,, but,, much of your first post is directed completely at present administration,and quite frankly, it simply isnt all there fault,, like it or not! you may not agree with them, but these problems have been festering many years. As I said in an earlier post, I am tired of the present admin being the whipping post for Katrina, its an old song and has no tune!!! It is a long reaching problem.. The Clintons certainly did nothing to improve it!!!! I will agree that beaurcracy is a major part of it, but in many cases, private companies can make much faster decisions, move faster and implement plans much faster. have a good weekend!!!! again, no hard feelings,,


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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Ralph Maughan