As of Wednesday, August 2, 2017
With the Idaho Department of Lands announcing the Craig Mountain Complex Fire 100 percent contained, Fish and Game's Craig Mountain Wildlife Management area south of Lewiston is now open to the public.
Almost two weeks ago, an isolated thunderstorm raced across north central Idaho, igniting many fires in the area. Two fires were located on the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area which included the Corral Creek Fire on Bureau of Land Management lands and Nature Conservancy property and the Powerline Fire on Idaho Department of Fish and Game property.
The two fires converged and impacted approximately 50,400 acres along the most remote parts of the WMA. The area impacted by these fires is critical big game winter range for mule deer, elk and bighorn sheep, all of which are managed as controlled hunts for Big Game Management Unit 11. The affected area is also home to excellent chukar and grouse hunting.
After assessment of the burned area, Fish and Game determined that wildlife habitat for big game and upland game will not be adversely affected. Due to the moist conditions of north facing timber pockets and wet drainages, the burn was not continuous within the fire perimeter and resulted in a patchy burn.
Insects and song birds were observed throughout the burned areas, along with unburned vegetation which indicates that the burn moved slowly and with little intensity. Because of this, the burn acted more like a prescribed burn and less like a wildfire.
With a few light rain showers in early fall, the grasses are expected to quickly recover and provide excellent forage for the winter. The unburned brush and timber pockets will continue to provide excellent security cover and forage for the upcoming hunting season.
Fish and Game also manages four small cabins within the burn area that are open to the public to use on a first-come, first-served basis. Due to the efforts of the firefighting teams on the ground and in the air, all structures including the Wapshilla Administrative Site and the Nature Conservancy Ranch House were saved.
The four remote cabins will still be open for the public to use for the upcoming hunting season, but hunters should note that the Frency Creek and Hermit Springs cabins are still under some minor construction due to the last wildfire in 2014.
Fish and Game would like to thank the efforts of all the firefighters and fire management officials and the public for respecting the area closure.