Payette National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
500 N Mission St
McCall, ID 83638
Date: September 19, 2017 Contact: Anthony Botello (208) 634-0601
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Highline Fire Closure Rescinded
McCall, ID – The Payette National Forest has rescinded the Highline fire closure in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness effective immediately, allowing access to the trails, airstrips and area in and around Chamberlain Basin. “While the fire has moderated with the recent wet and cold fall weather, the fire still has a potential to flare up and there are risks associated with traveling in Wilderness that the public needs to understand and have awareness about,” said Anthony Botello, Krassel District Ranger. “Wilderness visitors are warned to take precautions around and under fire-weakened trees while traveling within the fire area,” Botello advises.
The Highline Fire was started by lightning on July 28 in one of the most remote areas of the Wilderness. With the exception of a handful of days, it burned mostly with low intensity and a slow rate of spread for the past 55 days and burned dead and downed vegetation, brush and some stands of trees in a natural, mosaic fashion in the Wilderness. Due to concerns for the safety of employees and visitors, the Payette issued multiple closures as the fire grew and moved.
Lightning ignited fires in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness are a natural part of the ecosystem and are managed to prevent impacts to and loss of buildings, private land, trail bridges, historic structures and other values at risk, but these natural fires are intentionally allowed to travel across the landscape in as natural a manner as possible.
Trail, airstrip and/or area closures are sometimes necessary to protect visitors from unpredictable fire intensity and spread, while allowing firefighters to take necessary actions. However, closures are also an impact to visitors to the National Forest and even more intrusive to visitors to Wilderness. Wilderness is managed with as few of controls over visitors as possible to maintain the untrammeled nature and primitive and unconfined recreation visitors seek. “We take closures in Wilderness very seriously. We go into them slowly and thoughtfully and come out of them as quickly as we can,” Botello said.
The Highline fire is not entirely out. Its spread has moderated and most areas of the fire are showing little to no heat. The short-term weather predictions are calling for cool and wet weather for the next few weeks with possible seasonal warming and drying by the first half of October. Visitors are encouraged to check with the Payette National Forest for current fire, trail and airstrip conditions and if possible stay out of the Highline fire area. Wilderness users are responsible for understanding their surroundings and taking precautions to avoid hazardous areas where fire has effected trees, soil, water or other features of a natural landscape.
For more information on Wilderness in the Payette National Forests, contact the Krassel Ranger District at 208-634-0600.