Rugged country of Frank Church Wilderness


  • A pristine environment within a large intact ecosystem
  • Naturally functioning ecological processes
  • A full complement of native large carnivores including gray wolf, cougar, black bear, lynx, bobcat, coyote, wolverine, fisher, and otter.
  • Diversity of fish species including anadromous Chinook salmon and steelhead, as well as westslope cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, bull trout, mountain whitefish, and sculpin, and an absence of nonnative species.
  • Native animal species that are common here, such as tailed frogs, spotted frogs, several bat species, Lewis' woodpeckers, and black backed woodpeckers are threatened, endangered or rare in other areas.
  • The terrain of the Salmon River Mountains is deeply dissected and complex, creating a high level of biodiversity.
  • Plant communities range from low elevation xeric grasslands or lush riparian shrub corridors to high elevation mesic alpine meadows or barren windblown mountain peaks. Forested plant communities in between include Douglas fir, Ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, spruce/subalpine fir, and whitebark pine forests.
  • Large-scale ecological perturbations - primarily wildfires - have significantly influenced the landscape in recent years.
  • Geology of the area is diverse and fine-grained, with an abundance of fault lines and intrusions. The granitic Idaho batholith covers much of the area, but Challis volcanics and quartzite are common.
  • Climate varies dramatically within the area due to the extremes in elevation change and "rain shadow" effect of high elevation peaks. Effects of global climate change will be readily apparent within this steep environment.
  • The small "human footprint" on this area provides an excellent comparison to more human dominated or managed environments.
Aerial view of big creek
Aerial View of Big Creek.

Diamond Point fire
The Diamond Point fire of 2000 swept over 175,000 acres.