BLM High Desert District plans prescribed fires

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The prescribed burns will take place throughout the winter when weather conditions are cold and damp.

ROCK SPRINGS — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) High Desert District (HDD) plans to conduct prescribed fires on public lands managed by the Rawlins Field Office this fall and winter.

This is contingent upon fuel moisture and weather meeting optimal burn conditions. The treatments will only be implemented if specified prescription parameters are obtained.

The prescribed burning of piles will dispose of slash from the following projects:

Methodist Creek Timber Sale

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This treatment would remove slash piles left from a commercial timber harvest and conifer removal treatment approximately 15 miles southwest of Saratoga, WY along the northeast slope of the Sierra Madre Mountains.

As part of a series of mechanical and prescribed burn treatments, mature and standing dead lodgepole pine was harvested from a portion of the treatment unit earlier this year.

The treatment objectives include the harvest and use of dead and diseased timber, regeneration of healthy lodgepole pine conifer, mixed mountain shrub, and aspen stands.

Slash piles located throughout the harvest area from processing will be burned to remove the excess material. The remainder of the project area is scheduled to be treated with a broadcast burn following additional mechanical preparation work, possibly in 2020.

Double Eight Timber Sale

Several slash piles in this project were burned in winter 2018, and the remainder will be burned when optimal conditions are reached later this fall.

This project is a commercial timber harvest and conifer removal treatment 12 miles south of the town of Elk Mountain along the north edge of Medicine Bow National Forest in the Snowy Range Mountains.

Mature and standing dead lodgepole pine was harvested from the unit in 2016 and 2017 through a sanitation/salvage timber sale.

The treatment objectives include the sale and removal of standing dead and downed timber, and regeneration of healthy lodgepole pine conifer stands and aspen stands.

 Mill Creek Timber Sale

As with the Double Eight treatment, several slash piles in this project were burned in winter 2018, and the remainder will be burned when optimal conditions are reached this fall.

The project is a commercial timber harvest and conifer removal 30 miles south of Rawlins along the northwest edge of the Medicine Bow National Forest in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

The treatment site lies east of Carbon County Road 401 (the Sage Creek Road) and Carbon County Road 500 from Saratoga. Mature and standing dead lodgepole pine was harvested from the unit during 2017 through a sanitation/salvage timber sale.

The treatment objectives include the removal of standing dead and downed timber, and regeneration of healthy lodgepole pine conifer stands and aspen stands.

Teddy Creek Timber Sale

Burning will remove slash left from a commercial timber harvest and conifer removal treatment approximately 10 miles west of Encampment, WY along the east slope of the Sierra Madre mountains and Forest Service Road 443.

Mature and standing dead lodgepole pine was harvested from multiple units within the project from 2015 through 2018.

The treatment objectives include the harvest and use of dead and diseased timber, regeneration of healthy lodgepole pine conifer stands and aspen stands.

Piles were burned during the winters of 2016 and 2017, and remaining piles are scheduled to be treated this fall. One additional slash pile is located along the Encampment River southwest of Encampment, across from Oddfellows Campground.

This pile is material left from a river restoration project conducted in 2016 and will be burned in conjunction with the Teddy Creek piles.

Corral Creek

Slash piles from a conifer (juniper) encroachment project on the west flank of the Snowy Range Mountains approximately 15 miles east of Riverside.

This site is located along the west slope of Barrett Ridge immediately north of the Corral Creek BLM campground, and west of BLM Road 3401 (Bennett Peak Road).

The project targets encroaching junipers which have established in mixed mountain scrublands and Ponderosa pine woodlands. Small, hand-constructed slash piles are located throughout the target area and will be removed by burning.

This project is funded partially by the Platte Valley Mule Deer Habitat Partnership, along with Southeast Wyoming Muley Fanatics, the Governor’s Big Game License Coalition (mule deer, sheep, and elk funds), and the Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation.

Marking Pen Creek

The Marking Pen Creek pile burn, located in the Seminoe Mountains approximately 30 miles northeast of Rawlins will dispose of slash piles created through a hazardous fuels mitigation project during the summer of 2017 and 2018.

The Marking Pen Creek drainage and a headwaters drainage of Hurt Creek on the south flank of the mountain range were prepared for a broadcast burn by clearing underbrush and dead material from the burn perimeter.

The material will be removed by burning the piles so the line can be more easily held during implementation of the Indian Pass prescribed burn, tentatively scheduled for 2019 or 2020.

This and other past, current and future treatments in the Seminoe mountains were funded by the Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the Governor’s Big Game License Coalition.

Arkansas Creek

As with Marking Pen Creek, a number of hand piles were left from line preparation activities in the Arkansas Creek drainage on the north slope of Ferris Mountain.

A fuel break was prepared in fall 2017 to separate a broadcast burn unit in Arkansas Creek from adjacent timber stands on Ferris Mountain.

The piles will be burned to remove the fuel material prior to treating the unit with broadcast application of prescribed fire, tentatively planned for the spring and early summer of 2019.

Vegetation treatments in the Ferris Mountains have been and continue to be funded by the Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust.

Prescribed burn treatments implemented by the BLM follow stringent authorization and permitting procedures.

They are implemented only after exhaustive environmental review which incorporates project design features and mitigation measures intended to ensure that objectives can be met with minimal impacts to other resources.

A tightly controlled and reviewed implementation planning process is followed to produce a prescribed burn plan which emphasizes public and firefighter safety as the first and highest priority.

As with any activity involving landscape scale vegetation treatments, risk cannot be completely removed, but the planning process and the prescribed burn plan that is ultimately produced and followed attempt to mitigate as much risk as possible.

During operations, smoke may be visible from relatively long distances, but should dissipate fairly rapidly due to the time of year and expected weather, the type and amount of material being treated and general atmospheric conditions in the area.

Hunters and recreationists are urged to be aware of project areas and prescribed fire operations. For more information, contact either HDD Fire Management Officer Frank Keeler at (307) 352-0282, or Fuels Specialist Chris Otto at (307) 328-4250. For more information about BLM Wyoming, visit https://www.blm.gov/wyoming.

About BLM

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $96 billion in sales of goods and services throughout the American economy in fiscal year 2017. These activities supported more than 468,000 jobs.