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Wind River Bighorn Basin District BLM Fire Suppression on Sage-grouse Habitat

The Wind River Bighorn Basin District (WRBHB) fire program identifies Greater Sage-grouse habitat as a high priority for wildfire suppression. The fire program coordinates with resource program leads and resource advisors during periods of fire activity to identify areas of habitat that need protection. Fire management staff continuously review fire conditions within the core areas throughout the fire season; during periods of critical fire danger fire suppression resources are prepositioned to enhance initial attack and quickly control wildfires in Greater Sage-grouse habitat.

During the 2010 fire season, the WRBHB District stationed a type 4 heavy engine in Worland. The heavy engine increases the capability to suppress sagebrush fires by carrying an additional 600 gallons of water, compared to the district’s current fleet of light engines; additional firefighters; and increased maneuverability in rough terrain. The district was also able to support a single engine air tanker (SEAT) at the Worland Airport. The SEAT provided the district with faster response, reducing acrege loss in sage-grouse habitat.

The WRBHB District Fire Management Program also considers the following management goals when suppressing fires in Greater Sage-grouse habitat: 1) develop a cadre of qualified individuals, train resource advisors prior to fire season on wildfire suppression organization, objectives, tactics, and procedures; 2) ensure line officers are involved in priority setting during periods of multiple fires; 3) encourage firefighting vehicle use only on established roads and trails during wildfire suppression operations in or near priority habitat areas; 4) minimize burnout operations in priority habitat areas by constructing direct fire line whenever practical to do so; and 5) give high priority to developing rehabilitation plans for stabilization and restoration of Greater Sage-grouse habitat following wildfires.

Last updated: 05-18-2011