Mule Deer

Mule deer enjoyed the end of summer in Sun Valley this week. Warm days have been followed by chilly nights leading up Tuesday's autumnal equinox.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported another 446 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 statewide today, leaving the total case count at 38,347. An estimated 20,674 patients have recovered. The state considered coronavirus a contributing factor in another four deaths since yesterday, raising Idaho's death toll to 451.

According to the state, Blaine County gained two more confirmed and one more probable case of COVID-19 today, but similar numbers were reported by the South Central Public Health District yesterday. Both agencies list 612 confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. tonight, though disagree slightly on probable cases.

Keep reading for more information on nearby wildfires, COVID-19 risk level systems and early results from an ongoing Housing Authority survey, plus more community news. Here are the top stories from Tuesday, Sept. 22.

• As of this morning, five crews totaling 356 personnel had gained 49 percent containment over the 89,090-acre Badger Fire near Oakley. That represents considerable progress from the 12 percent containment reported just yesterday morning. Despite progress, crews do not anticipate full containment until Oct. 31, at least according to the most recent update from federal incident management system InciWeb.

The 3,980-acre Grouse Fire near Fairfield remains 40 percent contained and the 2,211-acre Trap Fire near Stanley is now 27 percent contained.

Click here for more information.

• When the the South Central Public Health District updates its website Thursday with the latest COVID-19 risk levels for each county, Blaine will not appear among them. That's because the county commissioners voted at the start of the month to base risk level decisions on the Harvard Global Health Institute guidelines, rather than the system favored by the Health District.

Gretel Kauffman has the full story here.

• About 200 people have responded so far to a Blaine County Housing Authority survey designed to gauge housing needs and wants in the Wood River Valley. The construction of new housing and new rental properties—and the renovation of old housing to sell at affordable prices to income-qualified households—appear to be top priorities for respondents so far, with more than 70 percent describing these things as “needed” or “critically needed.”

Click here to read more from Kauffman.

• The Mountain Rides Transportation Authority approved its fiscal year 2021 budget last week, and plans to ask for a little over $1 million from its local partners—about a 25 percent decrease from fiscal 2020. Roughly 44 percent of the requested $1,071,900 will come from Ketchum, 25 percent from Sun Valley, 15 percent from the Sun Valley Company, 11 percent from Blaine County and just over 5 percent from Hailey and Bellevue.

Emily Jones has more on that here.

• The Sawtooth Society is looking to fund recreation-related projects in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area through its Goat License Plate Fund grants program. Any nonprofits, governmental agencies or other entities or individuals operating in the SNRA may apply.

The deadline is Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Click here for more details.

• A recent study conducted by the Environmental Resource Center confirmed in scientific terms that Blaine County dog-owners are not great at picking up after their pets, even with the ERC’s pet waste bins at 16 of the most popular trailheads in the valley.

ERC Summer Fellow Lily Brunelle determined that an average of 49.6 dog poops are found within the first half-mile of a typical trailhead in the Wood River Valley. She estimated that 122 pounds of dog feces will be left unattended each week on popular trails.

Tony Evans has the scoop.

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