The Big Wood River

The Big Wood River has repeatedly set low-flow records this summer, stressing the canal system it feeds.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 491 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 statewide today, raising the total to 39,234. Coronavirus was considered a contributing factor in another three deaths since yesterday, leaving the Idaho death toll at 457.

The state counted one more confirmed case in Blaine County today, leaving local totals at 614 confirmed and 29 probable.

Keep reading for news on fire restrictions, drought conditions and coronavirus risk levels. Here are the top stories from Thursday, Sept. 24.

• The South Central Public Health District updated its COVID-19 Regional Risk Summary today, measuring a number of factors to calculate coronavirus transmission risk in seven of the district's eight counties. Per a recent decision by the Blaine County commissioners, Blaine County's risk level will no longer feature on the Health District's assessment, as several local entities prefer the calculations of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Blaine County was rated orange on that metric, indicating "accelerated spread."

Nearby, the Health District rated Gooding County's risk level as minimal, Camas County's as high, and all others as moderate.

Click here to view the risk summary. Click here to read up on the commissioners' decision.

• The Badger Fire grew overnight from 89,090 acres to 89,276, but containment remains at 49 percent, according to federal incident management system InciWeb.

The Grouse Fire, burning 3,980 acres near Fairfield, received its final update this week, “unless significant fire activity occurs,” according to InciWeb. 102 people are assigned to the fire, along with four engines, one helicopter, three excavators and two water tenders.

Meanwhile, the 2,285-acre Trap Fire is 41 percent contained near Stanley.

Visit for up-to-date fire information.

• The Big Wood River hit consecutive record low-flow rates in August and September this year, including today, when the Ketchum gauge site read six cubic feet per second below the previous low-flow record recorded in 1966. Blaine County remains in severe drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Portal.

Read more here.

• The Salmon‐Challis National Forest terminated its Stage 1 fire restrictions today meaning campfires are now legal on forest lands outside of the Frank Church and Jerry Peak Wilderness areas. Though fire danger is still rated “very high” in the Central Idaho Dispatch Zone, the Forest Service said adverse weather conditions that fuel wildfires have lessened with the arrival of autumn.

Emily Jones reports.

• The Badger Fire will interfere with deer, elk and pronghorn hunts, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game confirmed yesterday. The wildfire has forced a large closure of Game Management Unit 54 east of Rock Creek Canyon and Deadline Ridge, but Fish and Game is offering several alternatives for big-game hunters with controlled hunt tags for the unit.

Click here for details.

• Ketchum’s Planning & Zoning Commission will hold a special public hearing on Monday to re-take comment on a proposed hotel development at the entrance of the city, which was remanded back to the commission from Ketchum City Council after a noticing error was discovered. The project was stalled at the beginning of April following a noticing error for neighbors within 300 feet of the development.

Alejandra Buitrago has more here.

• In a rare local event, the Blaine County School Board has given approval for Wood River High School's 11-man football team to face off against Carey High School's 8-man squad tomorrow night. The game will be specially sanctioned by the Idaho High School Activities Association. Teams will face off for the ultimate Blaine County bragging rights.

Jon Mentzer has the news here.

For more local and regional news, pick up a copy of tomorrow’s Idaho Mountain Express, or visit at any time.

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