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Kemmerer Field Office

Prescribed Burns to Improve Wildlife Habitat

The 6,600 acre Collett Creek Burn south of Nugget Canyon was completed in 1995. In 1996 and 1998, two burns were completed in the Lost Creek Management Unit southeast of Cokeville.

A 17,000 acre burn was completed in 1999 in the Bridger Basin area on the Cumberland grazing allotment, and a 3,000 acre burn in the Sawmill area northeast of Cokeville was completed in 2001. 

These burn areas are comprised of many different vegetation types including aspen, juniper, sagebrush and grass, and mountain shrub communities.

The objective of these burns was to improve plant communities in elk, antelope, and mule deer winter transitional range. These vegetative types were targeted because of their importance to big game species during winter and transitional periods in this area.

Fire removes the old decadent vegetation and replaces it with younger healthier plants. Fire also helps plant species such as aspen and mountain shrubs resprout.

Establishing "Blackline"
A "blackline" is created around the perimeter of the planned burn area. This blackline will contain the fire within the perimeter of the area, and helps the fire crew to ensure that the fire only burns where it is intended to burn.

After the burn area has been blacklined and secured, a helicopter equipped with a drip torch (Helitorch) is used for the rest of the burn. A helitorch is used because this type of equipment is more efficient at burning a larger amount of area in a shorter period of time.

The burned areas were rested for two full growing seasons from livestock grazing to allow plants to resprout, and allow root systems to become established.

Many groups and organizations have cooperated and contributed to this effort including the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Mule Deer Foundation, livestock permittees and other interested publics.