LM High Desert District plans to burn slash piles


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Tyler Johnson, [email protected]

RAWLINS, WYOMING (November 19, 2020) – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) High Desert District (HDD) plans to conduct prescribed fires on public lands managed by the Rawlins Field Office this fall and winter. This is contingent upon fuel moisture and weather meeting optimal burn conditions. The treatments will only be implemented if specified prescription parameters are obtained.

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The prescribed burning of piles will dispose of slash from the following projects:

  • Methodist Creek Timber Sale: This treatment would remove slash piles left from a commercial timber harvest approximately 15 miles southwest of Saratoga, WY along the northeast slope of the Sierra Madre Mountains. As part of a series of mechanical and prescribed burn treatments, mature and standing dead lodgepole pine was harvested from a portion of the treatment unit during 2018 and 2019. The treatment objectives include the harvest and use of dead and diseased timber, regeneration of healthy lodgepole pine conifer, mixed mountain shrub, and aspen stands. Slash piles left from processing will be burned to remove the excess material. The remainder of the project area is scheduled to be treated with a broadcast burn following additional mechanical preparation work, possibly in 2021.
  • South Corral Creek: Slash piles from a conifer (juniper) encroachment project on the west flank of the Snowy Range Mountains approximately 15 miles east of Riverside. This site is located along the west slope of Barrett Ridge north of Carbon County Road 660 (the French Creek Road) and east of BLM Road 3404 (the Bennett Peak Road.) The project targets encroaching junipers which have established in and dominated riparian areas. Small, hand-constructed slash piles are located throughout the target area and will be removed by burning. This overall conifer treatment project on Barrett Ridge was funded cooperatively by the Platte Valley Mule Deer Habitat Partnership, Southeast Wyoming Muley Fanatics, and the Governor’s Big Game License Coalition (mule deer, sheep, and elk funds.)
  • Marking Pen Creek: The Marking Pen Creek pile burn, 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 summer of 2017 and 2018. The Marking Pen Creek drainage and a headwaters drainage of Hurt Creek on the south flank of the mountain range were prepared for a broadcast burn by clearing underbrush and dead material from the burn perimeter. The material will be removed by burning the piles so the line can be more easily held during implementation of the Indian Pass prescribed burn, tentatively scheduled for 2021. This and other past, current and future treatments in the Seminoe mountains were funded by the Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the Governor’s Big Game License Coalition.[bsa_pro_ad_space id=23]
  • Arkansas Creek: As with Marking Pen Creek, a number of hand piles were left from line preparation activities in the Arkansas Creek drainage on the north slope of Ferris Mountain. A fuel break was prepared in fall 2017 to separate a broadcast burn unit in Arkansas Creek from adjacent timber stands on Ferris Mountain. Several piles were removed during February 2019 and only a few that were completely covered with snow drifts remain.  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, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust.
  • Encampment River BLM Campground:  A hazardous fuels mitigation and hazard tree removal treatment was completed in the Encampment River Campground during the spring and summer of 2020.  Approximately 70 hand-built slash piles remain from the removal of juniper and standing and down dead material.  The piles will be burned if they have cured sufficiently to fully consume and remove all of the material. If more time is required to cure the piles, they will be burned the following year.

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.  Continuous, persisting snow cover is required surrounding all of the piles as the main prescription parameter in order to implement the burns.

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

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