The proposed project area consisting of 25,568 acres lies entirely within Carbon County, and the Bureau of Land Management Rawlins Field Office boundary, east of Bradley Peak along the Seminoe Mountains and West of the North Platte River and Kortes Reservoir. The entire project area boundary is defined by two-track roads, county roads, and/or the North Platte River. The proposed project area includes lands owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rawlins Field Office (RFO), Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), Sate Trust Lands (State), and privately owned deeded lands. The elevation within the project area varies from 8300 feet near the Sunday Moring Creek Mine to 5900 feet along the confluence of the North Platte River below Kortes Dame. The proposed project area landscape is dominated by rough terrain with long draws, intermittent and perennial drainages, large bowls and steep ridge lines. The entire project area includes three livestock grazing allotments, all of which are administered out of the Rawlins BLM Field Office. The grazing allotments included within the project area include Seminoe #10218, Long Creek #10212, and Black Canyon #00323. Included within the project unit is the Morgan Creek Habitat Unit. The Morgan Creek Habitat Unit is excluded from livestock use; the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) administer wildlife management within the Morgan Creek Unit and the BLM RFO is responsible for fire suppression and presuppression activities.
The Seminoe Mountain project area consists of mainly intermittent timbered slopes with many upland areas dominated by sagebrush/grass/mountain shrub components. Timber stands within the project unit consist of Pinus flexillis; limber pine and Pinus ponderosa; ponderosa pine with various slopes containing encroachment with Juniper scopulorum; Rocky Mountain juniper. Drainages containing perennial water sources tend to be dominated by Populus tremuloides; Quaking Aspen. Aspen communities are a substantial vegetative component in the following drainages of the project unit: Cottonwood Creek, Morgan Creek, Steep Creek, Long Creek, and Deweese Creek. While Aspen stands exist throughout the project unit in various drainages, the listed drainages may be targeted specifically for aspen health due to the large sizes of existing communities.
While the project area is considered summer range for elk, antelope, mule deer and bighorn sheep, it also contains designated crucial winter habitat for the previously list. Currently there are no identified grouse leks or core habitat within the project area.
Recreational opportunities in the area include wildlife viewing, big game, mountain lion, upland bird, varmint, rock, and antler hunting. Access to the project unit is available through the Morgan Creek Habitat Unit and by crossing federally owned BLM and BOR lands.
This prescribed burn is being proposed by the BLM, BOR, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and local livestock operators. Habitats across the project area have become decadent and woolfy do to the lack of disturbance and or herbivory. Specifically the Morgan Creek Habitat Unit which has been excluded from livestock grazing for the last 47 years.
Vegetation in this area has become decedent and mountain shrubs and Aspen communities within the project area have demonstrated a loss in vigor and age diversity. Habitat quality has decreased over the project area due to shrub over maturity and/or decadence, and the lack of structural and age stratification throughout the vegetative community. Competition from shrubs for water and nutrients has reduced the amount, vigor, and nutritional quality of grasses and forbs important for wildlife and livestock during various use periods. Additionally, forage values for livestock use have dropped due to decreased overall amounts of herbaceous material (grasses) produced over the landscape. Watershed health has declined due to the loss of herbaceous (grass) under-story and overall ground cover on some upland sites within permitted grazing allotments.
The general goal of the proposal is to diversify the age-class and structure of predominant vegetation within the project area. By diversifying the vegetation, specific benefits to varied resources in the area are expected to occur. Benefits would include increased forage quantity and quality for livestock (spring/summer cattle on permitted grazing allotments) and wildlife (season long). Visual corridors for bighorn sheep would be opened helping distribute herd use over unused portion of the project area. Overall, the proposed action would contribute to the achievement of standards for healthy rangelands and desired future conditions (DFC) in the subject project area and its grazing allotments, helping benefit all resource users.
In order to accomplish these goals, the proposed action would manipulate the vegetation in the project area by treating the predominant shrub, grass, and timber communities. The proposed action would treat vegetation over a five to ten year period by prescribed burning and/or the occurrence of a natural ignition (lightning) to achieve a more natural mixture of grasses and shrubs, as well as stratifying successional stages of timber communities measured by overall composition, density, aerial cover, and age class structure.
Questions: Please Contact Mike Murry with the Rawlins BLM Field Office at 307-328-4253.