PINEDALE — Pinedale Habitat Biologist Jill Randall has been busy working with several partners to improve habitat for the prized Wyoming Range Deer Herd.
Following the completion of a Wyoming Range mule deer habitat assessment, the Wyoming Game and Fish has been partnering with both federal and private land managers on an ambitious plan to improve over 45,000 acres of key deer transition and winter ranges from 2014-2021.
To date, from 2014-2017, the following activities have been completed:
- 11,400 acres of sagebrush mechanical thinning to promote diversity
- 2,900 acres of aspen cutting to increase fuels for prescribed fire and promote aspen resprouting
- 900 acres of prescribed fire for aspen regeneration
- 12,300 acres of herbicide treatment for cheatgrass removal
- 1970 acres of cheatgrass hand grubbing/pulling post-treatment
- Four riders hired to distribute livestock away from treated areas
- 11 miles of new lay-down fencing to help with livestock distribution
- One water reservoir
Treatments involve BLM, state, and private lands. The Game and Fish Department’s Habitat and Access crew has continued with additional mechanical treatments on sagebrush this fall in the Deer Hills and Little Mesa areas near Big Piney.
The areas of sagebrush that have been identified for treatment are being mowed at approximately 30-50% coverage in a random mosaic type pattern. Monitoring of past treatments has shown regeneration of grasses, forbs and sagebrush.
Additional future treatments include use of the Lawson aerator, seeding, plateau and spike treatments on sagebrush, and prescribed burning of aspen.
This large-scale multi-year habitat project addresses specific goals outlined in the Wyoming Range Mule Deer Initiative and is estimated to cost over 3 million dollars.
The following funding partners have contributed to date: WY Wildlife & Natural Resource Trust, WY Landscape Conservation Initiative, Wyoming Game and Fish, Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Mule Deer Foundation, Muley Fanatics Foundation, Denbury and Exxon.