Casper Mountain, rising 3,000 feet above the city, is a popular recreation site for the local community. Many local residents also call Casper Mountain home. At last count there were 800 structures on the mountain.
The Gothberg Draw-Coal Mountain area is located 10 miles southwest of Casper adjacent to Casper Mountain. In the last twenty years over one dozen wildland fires have occurred on or threatened lands within the Mountain area.
The largest of these fires, the Deadhorse fire, occurred during the summer of 2000 and burned nearly 6,000 acres of private, federal, and state lands on Coal Mountain. The fire cost $1.2 million to suppress and nearly destroyed several dwellings.
According to Natural Resource Specialist, George Soehn, "Coal Mountain is a lightning rod during summer thunderstorms. Every summer there is at least two or three small fires in the Coal-Casper Mountain area. Eventually one is going to escape initial attack of local firefighting resources. This project will create a fuel break that will aid firefighting efforts in the future."
This fall as part of the Gothberg Draw-Coal Mountain Wildland Fuel Reduction Project, the BLM created a 3.5 mile fire break on public lands in the Coal Mountain area.
The purpose of the fire break was to reduce heavy fuel loads along existing roads and trails on Coal Mountain, and reduce the chance for a catastrophic wildfire on Casper Mountain by creating a fire break for future suppression actions.
During the summer of 2002, fire crews cut and hand piled junipers and conifers approximately 15 feet on each side of an existing two-track trail. Altogether, 3.5 miles of trail were treated encompassing 15 acres.
Approximately 700 piles were burned between mid January and the beginning of February. The project area is being monitored for the encroachment of any noxious weeds into the burned areas, and the fuel break will be monitored over the next decade to determine maintenance needs to maintain its effectiveness.