Cows, Fire, and Rare Plants

One of our monitoring sites – now all dried up

Ever since we got back from the workshop everything here has really dried up. Most plants here are dry, brown and past flowering.

So we’ve been shifting into more range work like checking livestock use and range improvements. Now that everything has dried up, fire season has really begun. At any time a lightning strike or a spark could start a fire and then half the office has to run off and go fight it. A couple of weeks ago, a fire came within a mile of the office and burned almost 30,000 acres. By the end of the day we could see the flames from the office!

Antelope Fire

Now we’re chasing spring into higher elevations where the plants are still alive and in some cases where the snow has yet to melt! This is great because we’re getting to discover some of the most beautiful parts of the district and some of my favorite places in Idaho.

Quigley Canyon near Hailey, Idaho

Mount Harrison, Sawtooth National Forest


Castilleja christii

Recently, we got to help Idaho Natural Heritage monitor an endemic species of paintbrush (Castilleja christii) which is only found on one mountain in the world! It is only found here because this mountain is sky island – a mountain that is like an island because it is surrounded by different habitat, preventing gene flow. Like many alpine species, this makes Christ’s paintbrush especially vulnerable to climate change because it is unable to move north as the weather warms.

Other CBGs enjoying the last bit of snow

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