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Release Date: 10/01/09
Contacts: David Boyd, (970) 319-4130, Public Affairs Specialist    

Mechanical habitat improvement work resumes on Light Hill


GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – Work on the second year of the Light Hill Wildlife Habitat Improvement Project three miles south of Basalt started this week as a Hydro-axe began clearing patches of mountain shrubs across about 150 acres. The mechanical work is expected to be complete by mid-October.

Last summer a small, tractor-like machine called a Hydro-axe cleared patches of oak brush over about 375 acres. The resulting mosaic of mature mountain shrubs and open meadows greatly enhanced wildlife habitat.

"The response from last year’s work was exactly what we were hoping for," said Kevin Wright, District Wildlife Manager for the Division of Wildlife in the Roaring Fork Valley. "Grasses and flowering plants increased in the open areas, and the shrubs responded with new growth."

The project is a cooperative effort among the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Division of Wildlife, and the Lower Colorado Habitat Partnership Program. Light Hill is one of only five big game wintering areas in the Roaring Fork Valley. Improving wildlife habitat here should help alleviate wildlife conflicts on private lands.

"The mature oak brush and other shrubs provide good cover for wildlife, but they doesn’t provide much forage," Wright said. "Creating this patchwork of open areas within the mature shrubs increases forage and maintains cover for wildlife."

If weather conditions allow, a 100-arce prescribed fire will also take place on Light Hill during the first two weeks of October, which will generate similar benefits as the mechanical clearing.

"We’re hoping to burn in an area too steep for the mechanical work," said BLM Fuels Specialist Ody Anderson. "In addition to the important wildlife habitat benefits of this work, we’re also reducing fuels for larger wildfires and enhancing firefighter safety."

For specific questions related to this project, contact BLM Fuels Specialist Ody Anderson (970) 876-9030.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM'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. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

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Last updated: 10-01-2009