Ranchers devastated by Soda Fires:

Ed Wisley cows

Moving cows on Ed Wisley Ranch after the 2015 Soda Fire. — Photo by Ken Miracle.

At our Tuesday, August 20 Boise ATV Trail Riders Club (BATRC)  monthly meeting, Bill Jones, our Club’s Media Rep, gave a brief summary of the Soda fire situation in Owyhee County. He reported, just prior to the meeting, 283,564 acres had been burned and the fire was approximately 90% contained if the weather holds. He explained that several ranchers have been devastated by the fire—cattle lost or killed, hay burned, etc., such as on the Ed Wisley Ranch.  As of August 22, about 95% of fire has been contained.  Click on The Idaho Statesman link at bottom of page to see the map of the fire.

Roads Closed

He also reported on which roads and trails are closed until the affected area has been considered “totally out;” and a BAER (Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation) assessment is completed.  As of August 22, 2015:  All roads and trails within the boundaries of highway 95 and highway 78 are closed to the public.

Ed Wisley flock birds

Birds fleeing the burned area to “greener fields!” — Photo by Ken Miracle.

Where there is a need—there is a way to help!

Bill suggested that maybe we should redirect some of our next year’s trail cleaning efforts towards helping those ranchers affected by the fire in rebuilding fences, spreading seed with our ATVs/UTVs, etc.  After a great discussion about how we all enjoy riding in the Owyhees, the members wanted to do something now, too!  They voted to have BATRC purchase and donate a ton of hay to be given to the ranchers affected by the fire. Bill was given the task to buy the hay! After the meeting, members personally donated additional money towards the cause!

Ed Wisley birds

Not much left to eat! — Photo by Ken Miracle.


Bill (white shirt) and a McIntyre employee unloading the pellets.

On the way home after the meeting, he happened to see a for sale sign for hay and called to find out the price. As it turned out, this particular gentleman had already committed to donate about six tons of hay to the Soda Fire burned out fund, but no one had responded to him.


This is what a ton of hay pellets look like!  Later, these pellets were picked up by Ed Wisley’s daughter, Lisa, and delivered to his ranch!  He is very appreciative of what we have done!

To help facilitate the process, Bill immediately contacted Paul Nettleton, an Owyhee rancher, for some contact names. After several calls, he found someone.  As of August 22, plans are to pick up the hay next week.

In the process of finding a number and locating additional hay, he found out that the ranchers also need Alfalfa and Timothy hay pellets!  This was great—he could haul pellets in his pickup and didn’t have to locate someone to haul the hay!  He was told to contact the U of I Owyhee County Agricultural Extension Agent, Scott Jensen, in Marsing to find out where to deliver the pellets!

Ed Wisley birds resting on sprinkler

Sage Hens resting on Ed Wisley’s sprinker pipes in a green field. — Photo by Ken Miracle.

No moss grew under Bill’s feet!  By Thursday morning, he had purchased and delivered approximately 1,820 pounds of Alfalfa and Timothy hay pellets—that is almost a ton! Thanks go to Legacy Feed & Fuel and  ZamZow’s for giving us a discount!

That afternoon, contact was made with Ed Wisley’s daughter, Lisa, and she was able to pick up the pellets and deliver to her father’s ranch.


Ed told Bill over the phone,“These pellets will help tremendously, especially for ranch-use horses, thank you so much for helping us out.”  He also said, “Bill, I have never seen so many birds landing in my green fields!!”  

What is next?

Finding Ranger Alfalfa seed and Fescue Rye grass mix!  Questions, contact Bill Jones.

Some Links:

For more information about the Soda Fire, click on these links to stories published in The Idaho Statesman:

Map of Soda Fire – August 18, 2015

Community helps – August 16, 2015

Ranchers hit hard – August 14, 2015

Bureau of Land Management Request:

August 21, 2015 – 5 pm — Current Situation: Crews continue to patrol fire lines and look for hot spots. Progress has been good, with very little if any smokes being found. Firefighters have also rehabilitated nearly 40 miles of dozer line, with another 60 miles to go.

BLM is asking the public to stay out of areas impacted by the wildfire for public and firefighter safety. The fire is not 100% contained and crews still have work to do to contain the fire and finish up rehabilitation of dozer lines. Shooting within the fire area is extremely unsafe for firefighters, and we are asking the public to find alternate locations Firefighters have already witnesses several target shooters within the fire perimeter making working conditions unsafe thereby inhibiting fire suppression progress. Please help us to keep our firefighters and public safe.