(SARATOGA, Wyo.) June 27, 2017 – Medicine Bow National Forest fire crews are hoping to conduct a prescribed burn in the northwest portion of the Sierra Madre Range in early July. The burn units are located on National Forest System lands managed by the Brush Creek-Hayden Ranger District (BCH), southwest of Saratoga, Wyo.
The primary burn units encompass 428 acres in the Divide Peak area, however, not all project units will be burned this year. The Divide Peak Prescribed Burn Project is located on the northern end of the Sierra Madres. This area encompasses about 1,600 acres and has required multiple years to complete burning.
The units are “islands” of timber consisting of lodgepole pine, spruce, fir, and aspen. Much of the lodgepole pine has been impacted by the mountain pine beetle and has, or is, about to fall down.
Timing of the burn is meant to take advantage of conditions that exist during typical fire season, thus creating a burn which mimics a natural fire in these fuel types. Current conditions will also provide fire activity that is sufficient to move through the units with minimal commitment of ignition personnel to the interior of the units.
The timbered islands are surrounded by a mix of grass and sage which will help prohibit fire spread outside of the units. Objectives include reintroducing fire into the fire-adapted ecosystem, reducing woody debris, and increasing aspen regeneration to improve wildlife habitat for multiple species. The use of prescribed fire will remove pine beetle-killed trees from aspen stands, which will increase natural aspen regeneration and reduce fire risk to Forest Service, State, BLM, and private lands.
This project may generate visible smoke. However, due to the remoteness of the project, impacts are expected to be minimal. Burn operations will take place over 3-4 days. No burning will take place unless necessary smoke permits have been obtained from the State of Wyoming.
Suitable weather and fuel moisture conditions will determine the exact date of these burns. Burning will not take place unless daily smoke dispersal forecasts are “good” to “excellent” and other weather-related conditions are favorable.
U.S. Forest Service fire crews will monitor the burn area until significant moisture occurs and periodically after that to confirm all fires are completely out.
Prescribed burns are used by the Forest Service to benefit wildlife and vegetation. A versatile management tool, the burns can reinvigorate rangeland, mimic historically natural fire disturbances, along with the benefits listed above as objectives in this burn.
Visitors to the area are encouraged to call the BCH Office at (307) 326-2500 with questions or visit the District Office at 2171 Hwy 130, in Saratoga between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Information may also be found on this website, http://fs.usda.gov/mbr, or you can follow the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland on Twitter, @FS_MBRTB.