Heavy Rains Wreak Havoc in Wood River Valley


Burned area from the Beaver Creek Fire, taken last fall. - U.S. FOREST SERVICE
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Burned area from the Beaver Creek Fire, taken last fall.

Heavy rains in late July and early August have wreaked havoc in Southern Idaho, from the killing of 1,200 Chinook salmon in the South Fork of the Salmon River—when rapid rainfall pushed sediment into the holding ponds and suffocated the fish—to washing out 600 feet of the Middle Fork Boise River Road, to turning the South Fork of the Payette into a river of gushing mud. According to the Idaho State Journal, many homes and roads in Eastern Idaho were also flooded from thunderstorms.

The Wood River Valley hasn't escaped the effects of the heavy rainfall, either. According to the Idaho Mountain Express, the rain has been especially disastrous at the area burned in Beaver Creek Fire.

Several of the 56 culverts installed by Forest Service crews last August got plugged by washouts. Ketchum rangers have decided to keep upper Warm Springs Road (13 miles past where the pavement ends) closed and installed a gate.

"Given the unstable nature of the road, we decided let's keep it closed during these thunderstorm cycles," District Ranger Kurt Nelson told the Idaho Mountain Express.

Washouts also dumped a 6- to 8-foot mound of shale on part of the road that follows Castle Creek. Nelson said the shale was used to repair other sections of the road damaged by washouts. He added that the damage has been spotty, with some drainages remaining dry and others getting hit hard.

The Ketchum Ranger Station's precipitation data shows rain has fallen every day except two from July 29 to Aug. 8. The rainfall has not been enough to bring up levels of the reservoir, but it has helped green up pastures.