A thunderstorm near Idaho City, Idaho, Aug. 22 washed out dozens of streams and altered the course of the Boise River, obliterating some native fish populations. The rain fell on a watershed which burned in 1994 and which is being logged this summer as part of the Boise National Forest's "Boise River Wildfire Recovery Project."
Forest Service public affairs
officer Frank Carrol says the fire created "hydrophobic" soil
conditions in which water runs off without being absorbed. The
volume of water overwhelmed stream channels, he says, and eroded
and collapsed their banks.
The storm closed
numerous logging roads and created a log dam that rerouted the
Boise River over the top of Forest Service road 268, which accesses
the small community of Atlanta.
Steve Yundt of
Idaho Fish and Game believes the fish populations in at least a
portion of the Boise and Crooked rivers were "wiped out."
Yundt says the washouts were not influenced by
the logging and road construction in the area, but he warned that
further logging activities will increase the probability of future
Some environmentalists believe
logging played a role. "Most of the mud came from logging roads and
slopes bared by previous logging," says Ron Mitchell of the Idaho
Sporting Congress. "Crooked River ran clear until it hit a road
washout, but everything downstream of the road was scoured by a
torrent of mud."
The Boise National Forest has
no immediate plans to alter the logging project.