U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Wyoming
 
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The Bighorn Mountains Cooperative Initiative Captures Award

By Sarah Beckwith, Public Affairs Specialist, Bighorn Basin/Wind River District & Dennis Saville, Wildlife Biologist, Wyoming State Office

Improved ecological conditions allowed expansion and augmentation of a bighorn sheep herd.
Improved ecological conditions allowed expansion & augmentation of a bighorn sheep herd.
A helicopter with a crate attached below was used to relocate bighorn sheep into Devil’s Canyon.
A helicopter with a crate attached below was used to relocate Bighorn sheep into Devil’s Canyon.
"Before" photo of an area where prescribed burn treatments improved habitat, reduced fuels build up, reduced wildfire hazard, & promoted improved wildlife & livestock grazing management.
"Before" photo of an area where prescribed burn treatments improved habitat, reduced fuels build up, reduced wildfire hazard, & promoted improved wildlife & livestock grazing management.
"After" photo of an area where prescribed burn treatments improved habitat, reduced fuels build up, reduced wildfire hazard, & promoted improved wildlife & livestock grazing management.
"After" photo of an area where prescribed burn treatments improved habitat, reduced fuels build up, reduced wildfire hazard, & promoted improved wildlife & livestock grazing management.
The Bighorn Mountains Cooperative Initiative accepted the Partnership of the Year Award at the 2009 North American Wildlife and Natural Resource Conference in late March.

For more than ten years, personnel from the Worland and Cody BLM Field Offices, Bighorn National Forest, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department have accomplished numerous wildlife habitat and ecological improvement projects on more than 150,000 acres of public lands along more than 100 miles of the west slope of the Bighorn Mountains from the Montana border to south of Ten Sleep, Wyo.

Projects have included vegetation treatments through prescribed fire, timber harvest, and thinning; watershed stabilization and rangeland improvements accomplished by better grazing management; water development and riparian protection; noxious and invasive plant eradication and control efforts; and suppression, rehabilitation, and stabilization efforts following significant wildfires.

The results have been truly award-winning. Projects have significantly improved wildlife and fish habitat and improved ecological conditions for native rangeland and forest plants and trees. This has allowed expansion and augmentation of a bighorn sheep herd. Elk herds have been maintained at or above objective levels, while also expanding distribution and reducing private land conflicts. Mule deer populations have increased. Additional habitat has increased the distribution of moose. Sage grouse habitat has been improved. Key riparian habitats for migratory birds and non-game mammals have improved.

To further illustrate this award-winning initiative, several wildfires occurred on both USFS and BLM during this 10-year time period with potentially significant negative impacts to habitat and watersheds. Both agencies designed and implemented good fire rehabilitation plans to minimize negative fire affects and to promote beneficial habitat recovery and protect soils and watersheds during recovery periods.

“Although not every project was implemented without some delays and problem issues, all agency personnel were able to work through any problems and continued to improve and increase the cooperation and collaboration over time. An important factor to identify is that these efforts are continuing and significant future achievements will occur,” said BLM Wildlife Program Lead Dennis Saville.


 
Last updated: 07-27-2009