Three "wildland use" fires get out of control

Aug. 29, 2008. I have added some new updates (in red text)

The idea of letting fires in remote areas burn in order to save money and provide ecological benefits is one of growing popularity, especially given the toll fires are taking on the Forest Service budget (the later most a crisis manufactured by the Bush Administration in order to defund the Forest Service, in my opinion).

Due to high winds, 3 fires in Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming have escaped confinement — Gunbarrel in Wyoming, South Barker in Idaho, and East Sliderock.

There are stories in the newspaper today about two of them. First Gunbarrel. This is a fire we have been following for more than a week due to its proximity to Yellowstone and its size.


Gunbarrel managers drop beneficial use policy in favor of aggressive suppression. Casper Star Tribune.

‘It’s in our backyard’. By Chris Merrill. Casper Star-Tribune environment reporter. Note I have no idea why the dateline of this story is Lander, WY because the fire is no where near Lander.
8-28. Inciweb. Latest release on Gunbarrel fire.
8-28 update. Ash falls on Cody. By Ruffin Prevost. Billings Gazette.
8-29 update. Crews intensify efforts to fight month-old Gunbarrel fire. By Ruffin Prevost. Billings Gazette Wyoming Bureau

East Sliderock

Conditions hamper firefighters near NV wilderness. By Sandra Chereb.  Associated Press Writer. This fire burned for a long time in the Jarbidge Wilderness just south of the Idaho border. Now it is threatening Murphy Hot Springs (a remote resort area), the town of Jarbidge, and it is also burning valuable (and rare)  sage grouse country.

Yesterday “KT,” a frequent commenter here, sent out the email below.

And the fire story at

The Forest let a lightning strike in the Wilderness burn – and the fire has now ripped out of the Wilderness, and into some of the only remaining sagebrush in that part of the world.

Some of the video  – where it’s burning up sagebrush and areas with rabbitbrush (that had burned in other recent fires)  – may be backfires.

Some of us were just down in the this part of the world looking at grazing damage 2 or 3 weeks ago. Upper Cottonwood Creek, Slide Creek, Pole and Raker Creeks – Don and Joyce Clarke, Kristin and Ben, and Stuart .

This is also where a lot of the remaining Jarbidge BLM lands grouse spend their summers …

South Barker

This wildland use fire on the Sawtooth National Forest almost escaped, but is burning towards an old burn, and this may end its threat. It has pumped a lot of smoke into the Sawtooth Valley, making tourism there much less desireable.

Aug. 29. Growth slows on South Barker Fire. Fire closures could impact bowhunters headed into the field this weekend. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer





  1. kt Avatar

    The Forest really goofed in letting the Slide Rock fire get way out of control. There is so little sagebrush left in the entire Jarbidge watershed, following the half million acres Murphy fire and several others in recent years. Now this has burned up critical sage-grouse habitat in the vicinity of higher elevation springs and seeps – one of the only places one could go out and see grouse predictably in the entire region anymore. With the shrub cover gone, the grouse will be, too.

    The Forest, unfortunately, has been hankering to get rid of more sagebrush near Pole Creek for a long time. The agency and its current crop of range cons and permanent fire staffers have a terrible attitude towards sagebrush – viewing it as “disposable”. This attitude pervades the Forest Service across much of Region 4. It seems to be a legacy of Good ‘Ol Range fellows whose anti-sagebrush biases have long controlled agency policy – like Al Winward and others. Now they’re achieving the old range goals of killing sagebrush to grow cow food through fire – one way or the other.

  2. Overlander Avatar

    Murphey Hot Spring is a resort? It’s all trailer houses and hillbilly huts and the occasional kit cabin. Resort? Whatever.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    😉 I couldn’t think of a simple name for it.

  4. M Avatar

    This is a perfect example of the livestock industry lobbying the BLM and Forest Service to remove sagebrush and replace it with grassland. When you replace sagebrush with grass in the high desert, you get cheatgrass. Now think about the name cheatgrass. Yes , it is green for a short period in the spring, and then it dries up to a highly flammable fire disaster just waiting to happen.

  5. GrizRich Avatar

    People tend to panic to quickly on these fire use fires. These fires will not continue to rage and the weather will change and the fire will lay down and go out on its own eventually. Its all about patience and not getting in a panic

  6. GrizRich Avatar

    the federal managers of this fire are doing the best job that can be expected. It was eventually going to all burn up anyways. This conspiracy theory of the federal land use managers doing this to create more grazing is a real stetch of the imagination……..

  7. GrizRich Avatar

    fire is fire is fire and people tend to panic….the weather will get cooler as the days get shorter….

  8. GrizRich Avatar

    fire is fire is fire and people tend to panic….the weather will get cooler as the days get shorter….you have to apply some common sense to these situations and not panic as conditions wiol change

  9. outsider Avatar

    Overlander kinda harsh don’t you think? “hillbilly huts” the last time I was threw that area, it seemed to have some fairly nice elderly people that were trying to retire where many of you would like to live, or at least go visit. And form what I saw they don’t live in million dollar summer homes that they never worked a day in their life to own.


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