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2005 Rock Creek Prescribed Burn

View of 2005 Rock Creek prescribed burn.

View of 2005 Rock Creek prescribed burn.

View of 2005 Rock Creek prescribed burn.

View of 2005 Rock Creek prescribed burn.

The Rock Creek prescribed burn treated 12,000 acres with the objective to improve plant communities and wildlife habitat in the Rock Creek area west of Kemmerer, Wyoming.  This landscape-scale treatment was designed to improve habitat in one of the most crucial winter ranges for mule deer in Wyoming. An additional benefit was the improved habitat for the West Green River elk herd, one of the only "unfed" elk herds in western Wyoming.

The burn targeted aspen, sage/grass, and mixed mountain shrub vegetation types. In the absence of fire, many of these plant communities were in a decadent and dying state with little vigor or age class diversity.

The prescribed burn was conducted adjacent to a designated identified Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) in the Rock Creek area. The objectives of the burn included reduction of hazardous fuel accumulations in the WUI, creation of a mosaic of burned and unburned areas in the aspen and mountain shrub communities, and improvement in the health, vigor and age class diversity of the targeted plant species. By improving plant communities in this area, the burn improved watershed health and crucial big game winter and transitional range.  Additionally, habitat for other wildlife species also benefited, such as sage grouse brood-rearing habitat. 

The Rock Creek prescribed burn was conducted in conjunction with an elk-collaring study initiated in 2004 by the U.S. Geologic Survey, BLM, National Park Service (NPS) and Wyoming Game & Fish Department (WGFD). Collared elk are tracked and monitored to determine which treatments areas are being utilized, and at what times of the year.

Post-burn utilization standards have also been developed to ensure proper post-burn livestock grazing management.

Monetary donors included BLM, NPS, U.S. Forest Service, WGFD, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Southwest Wyoming Sage Grouse Working Group. Other cooperators that helped to make this project possible included the State of Wyoming, local livestock permitees and private land owners. This project was an excellent example of how government agencies, cooperators and land owners can work together to improve wildlife habitat and vegetation communities.

The 2005 Rock Creek prescribed burn received the BLM “Excellence in Ecosystem Management Prescribed Burn Award” for 2005. 

Last updated: 01-13-2011