Fire season finally hits Idaho.

Despite long wet spring, cool summer rangefires take hold-

Pocatello, Idaho.

Unlike the U.S. Southwest, Idaho has had a very cool and wet last 6 months in most parts. The result has been almost no wildfires, especially forest fires; but the rangelands are now dry in many places, especially where too many livestock have degraded the range allowing the invasion of cheat grass. The dry grasses are tall this August because of ample moisture.

There was a major fire on Chinese Mountain this afternoon here at Pocatello. I can still see it burning, though now controlled, outside my window. It did some damage. The mountain is important winter range for deer.

Here is a photo of it rapidly climbing up Chinese Mountain taken at 5 PM on Aug. 15 (today). It is being named the “South 5th Fire” for where it starte

New, related to wildfire at Pocatello, ID. Utah Air quality: Smoke from Idaho fire fills Utah skies. By Bob Mims. Salt Lake Tribune.

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Numerous small range fires have been started by lighting on the other side of the state from me (in SW Idaho). Story. Summer storm ignites 9 grass fires in Southwest Idaho desert Sunday night.  – Idaho Statesman. Update. There is now a 30 square mile fire burning south of Bruneau.

Rapidly moving grass and brush fire on Chinese Mountain at Pocatello, Idaho. 8/15/11. Photo copyright Ralph Maughan


Closer (telephoto) of Chinese Mountain wildfire. Several businesses were damaged, a house burned and perhaps some of the communications towers on top of the mountain were burned. This info is pending. Looked like they burned to me. Photo Ralph Maughan








  1. Ken Cole Avatar

    One of the other influences on wildfire in the so-called rangeland areas is crested wheatgrass which was planted for many, many years by the BLM. Places in the Jarbidge were plowed and replanted with CWG to increase cattle forage but cattle won’t eat it because it is a very coarse grass and they just don’t like it. They prefer the native bunchgrass instead. In some of the northern, lower elevation areas of the Jarbidge there is only CWG, cheatgrass, and tumble mustard that is only grazed in the winter leaving a huge fuel supply that is now vulnerable to fire just about every year. It’s like gasoline starting about mid June and there is not a damned thing to do about it. BLM management at it’s finest.

    Big parts of INL have CWG too. CWG is not a native grass.

  2. jdubya Avatar

    I was wondering what happened. Must be funky winds ’cause the Salt Lake valley is full of muck and smoke today whereas yesterday it was clear as gin. Not that we have gin in Utah to really compare….

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      The air was clear yesterday in SE Idaho. A small, unpredicted T-storm passed over with wind before and after. Wind really fanned the flames that were just starting? up Chinese Peak.

      I thought at first the fire was started by the minor storm, but it appears it was preteens playing with matches in the sagebrush.

      The smoke from the fire did drift south into northern Utah (Cache Valley) according to one report I just read.

  3. smalltownID Avatar

    Thanks for the update on Poky Ralph. We still have a home there but living a transient lifestyle we rarely make it back. It probably burned the gentleman’s house up there in the junipers? That is too bad, I thought that was one of the best areas adjacent to Pocatello and envied his little piece of heaven. It is really difficult to access those draws without permission from him, which is what makes it nice. The bluebirds and especially scrub-jays used that heavily in March and April.

    How far did it make it into Blackrock Canyon? Hopefully there won’t be a road dropping down in there because of the firefighters. There are already too many up there.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      I don’t know yet how far it burned over into Blackrock Canyon, but it did burn part of it. Of course, the Blackrock Canyon road is closed. It burned at least 2500 acres. I’m sure a lot of this will be mule deer winter range, . . . damn!

      It started just south of the old drive-in theater near the Rocking R mobile home park.

      1. smalltownID Avatar

        Hopefully it will recover better than north of Inkom has. It has taken a long time for that not to look like a barren wasteland and it still is shoddy.

        We planted thousands of sage and bitter brush but most of them were pulled out by cows within two weeks of planting as far as I could tell.

  4. Cindy Avatar

    And the smoke is being seen here in the Jackson valley. The rising moon was light orange last night:


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