As of Wednesday, September 13, 2017
IDFG will do its best to keep hunters informed about what fires are affecting early season hunts. What follows is general information on a large-scale basis; see idfg.idaho.gov/fire for more detailed info.
There is major fire activity in Units 12, 17, 16A, 19 and 20, as well as in 8 and 18. People heading to the Clearwater area, especially the Lochsa/Selway areas, should check with the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests about fires and fire closures. Information is online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/nezperceclearwater/home/?cid=fsm91_055753.
Notably, the Hanover Fire is still burning south of Grangeville and north of the Salmon River.
Though outside the Clearwater Region, hunters who operate south of the Salmon River ought to be aware more than half of hunt units 20A and 26 are now closed as the Highline Fire continues to burn within the Payette National Forest near Big Creek.
For updates on the Highline Fire, including future changes to the closure area, IDFG suggests visiting the Incident management information system page, inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5500.
With the fire still growing, Payette Forest officials have no estimate of when the area closure may be reduced or rescinded. Middle Fork B tag elk hunters who planned to hunt in either unit may wish to consider exchanging their tags for a different zone. Hunters may exchange their tags at any Fish and Game regional office prior to the hunt’s first day, which is Sept. 15 for Middle Fork B tag.
Recent fire activity and an unfavorable forecast led officials to expand the closure area which now encompasses both major Big Creek airstrips (Cabin Creek and Soldier Bar) as well as the entire Big Creek trail. Chamberlain Basin airstrip has been closed for several weeks, and remains closed at this time.
The Highline Fire closure area encompasses 55 percent of unit 20A and 52 percent of unit 26. As a lightning-caused fire burning in a wilderness area, firefighting efforts are focused on protecting structures or property rather than containing the fire. The fire is largely burning in previous fire scars, and is mostly consuming dead or downed timber from previous fires.