BLM High Desert District plans to conduct prescribed burns
Depending on fuel moisture and burn conditions, the Bureau of Land Management High Desert District may conduct prescribed burns on multiple lands managed by the Rawlins Field Office and associated partners this fall and winter. The treatments will only be implemented if specified prescription parameters are obtained.
The BLM broadcast prescribed burning would treat vegetation in the following project:
Indian Pass/Marking Pen Creek: This project is a continuation of the Seminoe Mountains Prescribed Burn project initiated during the spring of 2011 and continued into 2013. The south slopes of the Seminoe Mountains and the south half of the Marking Pen Creek drainage were treated with prescribed fire in 2011 and 2012. The burn was anchored into aspen stands in Marking Pen Creek due to excessive fuel loadings which have since been mitigated with mechanical treatments along the drainage bottom which continued west over the Seminoe divide into the Hurt Creek drainage.
The current treatment would use prescribed fire to treat mixed mountain shrubs, aspen stands, and encroaching limber pine and juniper to improve habitat for bighorn sheep, elk, and mule deer, and to manage hazardous fuels associated structures and industrial infrastructure located within the mountain range. This project is designed as a spring and/or fall treatment when cooler temperatures and higher humidity aid containment and winter and/or spring precipitation can be anticipated following treatment operations. Project partners include the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Bureau of Reclamation, grazing permitties and deeded landowners.
The prescribed burning of piles will dispose of slash from the following projects:
Boulder Ridge Hazardous Fuels Mitigation: This is a slash piles from a mechanical hazardous fuels mitigation/forest health improvement project on the Wyoming/Colorado border approximately 20 miles south of Laramie. This site is located on a small slice of public lands on the state line immediately north of the Arapahoe/Roosevelt National Forest bisected by Albany County Road 319 (the Boulder Ridge Road.) The project targets overgrown vegetation that poses a threat to surrounding deeded lands and multiple established structures. Most material from the treatment was removed and utilized for commercial firewood sales and the remaining slash was mechanically and hand piled. Piles on approximately half of the 190-acre treatment unit are ready to burn. The overall treatment is funded by the BLM Hazardous Fuels and Forestry program and implemented through an agreement with Wyoming State Forestry Division.
Morgan Creek WUI: The Morgan Creek Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) hazardous fuels treatment, located in the Seminoe Mountains approximately 30 miles northeast of Rawlins, will dispose of slash piles created through a hazardous fuels mitigation project during the fall of 2021. Standing and fallen dead limber pine, and encroaching live conifers were removed from a portion of the drainage to mitigate hazards to adjacent structures and deeded lands.
Ferris Mountain Douglas Fir Understory Treatments: This project will treat hand piles left from understory vegetation clearing and line preparation activities in the Muddy Creek drainage on the south slope of Ferris Mountain. Dense understory vegetation was manually thinned and piled during 2021 and 2022 to allow for a planned lower intensity understory prescribed burn treatment and to prepare containment lines. The piles will be burned to remove the fuel material prior to treating the unit with broadcast application of prescribed fire. Vegetation treatments in the Ferris Mountains have been and continue to be funded by the Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation, the Governor’s Big Game License Coalition (mule deer, and sheep funds), and the High Desert District Hazardous Fuels program.
Prescribed burn treatments implemented by the BLM follow stringent authorization and permitting procedures. They are implemented only after environmental review, which incorporates project design features and mitigation measures intended to ensure that objectives can be met with minimal impacts to other resources. A prescribed burn plan is followed which emphasizes public and firefighter safety as the first and highest priority. As with any activity involving vegetation treatments, risk cannot be completely removed, but the planning process attempts to mitigate as much risk as possible. High Desert District BLM Fire and Fuels resources may also take part in additional treatments to assist partner agencies and landowners.
During operations, smoke may be visible from relatively long distances, but should dissipate fairly rapidly due to the time of year and expected weather, the type and amount of material being treated and general atmospheric conditions in the area. Hunters and recreationists are urged to be aware of project areas and prescribed fire operations. For more information, contact either HDD Fire Management Officer Frank Keeler at (307) 352-0282, or Fuels Specialist Chris Otto at (307) 328-4250. For more information about BLM Wyoming, visit https://www.blm.gov/wyoming.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.