Treatment of this unit would complete the second phase of a burn that was approved in 2009 and initiated successfully in the spring of 2010. During April 2010, approximately 1,250 acres of mixed mountain mahogany and big sagebrush/grass vegetation was successfully treated in a mosaic pattern. The project was implemented in cooperation with the private land owner, the Casper, Rawlins, Rock Springs and Pinedale BLM Field Offices, US Forest Service and Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
The Iron Mountain prescribed burn is located approximately 25 miles northeast of Laramie, WY, and immediately west of the town of Chugwater, WY. The project area straddles Limestone Rim and includes the upper portion of the Spring Creek drainage, Middle Chugwater Creek, Strong Creek, and numerous ephemeral draws that are all within the Lower Laramie Watershed. It is scheduled to take place during the spring burn season (roughly April through early May.) The project would manipulate the vegetation by prescribed burning to achieve a more natural mixture of grasses and shrubs, as well as stratifying successional stages of upland shrub communities measured by overall shrub composition, density, aerial cover, and age class structure.
Ignition of the fuels would be accomplished via several methods, including the utilization of a flatbed-mounted terra-torch, and hand ignition with drip torches for the remainder.
General goals of the project include the diversification of sagebrush and mountain shrub stands in terms of age and structural class distribution, the renewal of the herbaceous, forb, and shrub component of these stands, reduction of fuel loads overall and insertion of landscape-scale vegetation fuel breaks, and the improvement of watershed conditions within the project area. Specifically, the resource objectives of the burn are to:
- Reduce fuel loading and reintroduce fire into a fire dependant ecosystem.
- increase the quality of true mountain mahogany communities available to mule deer on crucial winter ranges;
- Increase the quantity and quality of herbaceous forages available to mule deer on crucial winter ranges;
- Setback succession in true mountain mahogany communities allowing for recruitment of young plants and creating uneven aged stands across the landscape;
- Improve habitat diversity for other wildlife species (i.e., small game, upland gamebirds, etc.);
- Improve livestock grazing distribution by increasing the quality, quantity and availability of herbaceous forage; and
- Increase vigor of mountain mahogany, bitterbrush, and mountain shrubs and to improve the composition of grasses and forbs, leading to an increase in vigor and cover of the entire plant community.
Based on evaluation of the vegetation types found in the treatment area, the burn objective for the second phase of the Iron Mountain prescribed burn project consists of:
Treat (blacken) 580 to 1,100 acres (or 40 to 75%) of the dense mountain mahogany and bitter brush communities primarily in the heavy fuel areas with 40% or higher canopy cover.
Because there are increased amounts of bitterbrush in this phase, resource objectives would include minimal soil heating. This would improve post-burn bitterbrush resprouting. The south and east sides of this phase are bordered by two tracks and/or improved roads on the west side. The east side is also bounded by Spring Creek. The north side is bordered by lighter fuels but does not have a road as a boundary.
Questions: Please contact Chris Otto with the Rawlins BLM Field Office at 307-328-4250.