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Environment

Weekend Rain Brings Mudslides To Several Forests In Idaho

A forest ranger for the Sawtooth National Forest stands in a 12-foot-deep hole in a dirt road after a mudslide came through.
U.S. Forest Service
A mudslide on Sunday carved a 12-foot-deep hole through the center of a forest road in the Minidoka Ranger District.

Cooler weather in Boise over the weekend ended a 45-day streak of 90-degree or hotter temperatures, according to the National Weather Service in Boise. And with that break came heavy rains. In several forests in the state, that meant mudslides that officials were still evaluating on Monday.

Debris and mud washed over forest roads in the Boise, Sawtooth and Salmon-Challis national forests this weekend.

A washout in the Minidoka Ranger District of the Sawtooth National Forest carved a 12-foot-deep gully down the middle of a forest road near Trapper Creek. The incident occurred in the burn scar left by the 90,000-acre Badger Fire in the South Hills last year.

Mudslides also closed Baker Creek Road between Ketchum and Stanley for a few hours Sunday morning and Trail Creek Road, which connects Ketchum to Mackay. Trail Creek remained closed as of Monday afternoon.

Amy Bauman, a spokesperson for the Salmon-Challis National Forest said rocks and mud fell onto Salmon River Road, but it’s now open. Crews from Custer County were also working to clear a road north of the Custer townsite.

“There is a possibility that there are other slides that just have not been reported to the forest,” she said.

The region saw more than just rain over the weekend. Five new fire starts were detected Sunday and rangers were still making their way to them Monday morning.

“There was a lot of lightning with the storms that came through,” she said.

The Salmon-Challis National Forest is also responding to the Mud Lick Fire, which is more than 20,600 acres and 92% contained. Rain on Sunday on the western portion of the fire meant little to no growth in fire activity on that day. Drier conditions are supposed to set in on Tuesday.

Crews were also assessing road damage in the Boise National Forest, where rock and mud covered and dug out various forest roads. The forest said on its Facebook page that staff would look for more damage on Tuesday.

Despite the rains, Idaho is still seeing drought conditions multiply, with extreme drought expanding in North Idaho and south central Idaho.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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