Approximately 75 people made it to the MK Nature Center Wednesday Night to get the low down on the effects of the wildfire that affected the South Fork Boise River. The audience got a dose of information where things stand with the South Fork.
Mountain Home District Ranger Stephaney Church said she is working to open the section of the South Fork of the Boise River from the Cow Creek bridge downstream. Perhaps as soon as this weekend.
Church said the section of the river was less affected than from Anderson Ranch Dam to Cow Creek. This website back on August 21 showed the extent of the fire in the lower section of the river. There were fewer trees burned along the river and therefore less work to be done to cut down the trees that could be a safety hazard. Further upstream its a different story and it will take much longer to assess the safety hazards and do something about them.
One questioner missed badly when stating that everyone attended the meeting just because they want to know when the river will be open again to fish. Visits to this website and discussions among the fishing and conservation groups show otherwise, as there is significant interest in the long-term future for the South Fork fishery and for the river ecosystem.
Agency staff with the Forest Service, BLM and Idaho Fish and Game described the effects of the fire and the field assessments done so far so a game plan can be developed to address the most immediate needs for emergency rehabilitation. While the meeting discussion was at a more general level, some specifics have emerged. For example, the Elk Complex fire north of the river experienced much severe burning and the effects on soils in some locations appears fairly dramatic. We are keeping an eye on Pierce Creek, Granite Creek and Rough Creek. All three drain into the South Fork of the Boise from the north side. Granite Creek in particular could be a ticking time bomb with a small culvert and a watershed that appears to have seen severe fire effects. Pierce Creek of course no longer has a small culvert but rather a new bridge, so if there is a gully washer one hopes the flows and debris should be able to pass under the bridge.
Meanwhile the stranding study will proceed with government agency staff biologists on Monday, September 16 when the South Fork Boise River flows will drop to 300 cfs. Idaho Fish and Game and the Bureau of Reclamation will have staff on site to ascertain the amount of stranding when the river flows are cut. This information will help inform future management changes with river flows.