SUBLETTE COUNTY – The smell of wood smoke goes well with crisp autumn days and through the coming months, prescribed burns will be lit across the county to clear slash piles.
The Bureau of Land Management and Bridger-Teton National Forest officials announced their schedule and locations of planned burns to enhance mule deer habitat and prevent fuel loading. Both agencies were fortunate to avoid uncontrolled wildland fires in Sublette County this past summer although local skies filled with smoke from wildfires to the west.
The BLM High Desert District has two projects set to begin in October and continue into November, “only when conditions are favorable for a safe and effective burn,” said spokesman Tony Brown.
The first of these multi-year treatments in Sublette and Lincoln counties is the Miller Mountain pile burn project, consisting of 123 acres about 14 miles southwest of LaBarge. Slash piles are targeted to discourage conifer spread and encourage aspen regrowth, as part of a habitat project within the Wyoming Mule Deer Project area of the Wyoming Range.
The second BLM burn area to benefit Wyoming Range mule deer s the Pine Grove pile burn project, focusing on 184 acres about 15 miles southwest of Big Piney. Altogether, about 184 slash piles will be lit in the next two months, according to Brown.
The Forest Service’s fall schedule calls for at least nine smaller areas around homes and public-use areas to be burned with the goal of reducing “hazardous fuel loads” of dead and downfall trees. These burns will take place in coming weeks in the Pinedake and Big Piney ranger districts, according to BTNF spokesman Mary Cernicek.
The 120-acre planned treatment next to Sylvan Bay summer homes and day-use site, about 4 miles north of Pinedale, is in the Skyline Wildland Urban Interface Fuels Reduction Project area. This project was evaluated and approved in a 2016 environmental assessment, she added.
“The purpose of the project is to reduce fuel loading within the timbered vegetation surrounding Sylvan Bay summer homes to reduce the risk from high intensity wildfire and to limit the spread of fire within the designated WUI,” said Cernicek.
BTNF crews will also burn slash piles at the Upper Green winter elk feedgrounds, Halfmoon Campground, New Fork Boy Scout Camp, Horse Creek Guard Station, White Pine Ski Area, Temple Creek summer homes, Fremont Lake Campground and Fisherman Creek gravel pit. Other locations with cured slash piles from thinning, timber sales, fencing and other projects might be added to the list of fall projects. The slash piles are designed to burn efficiently and people are asked to not remove wood from them.
Smoke will likely be visible during these burns, which the BLM and BTNF say will be set when weather and fuel moisture are optimum, and fire crews will be on hand to monitor them whether for a day or until larger burns are out.
For more information about BLM burns, contact Mark Randall at 307-367-5350 or visit the Pinedale Field Office, 1625 W. Pine St. in Pinedale.
For more information on BTNF prescribed fires, visit www.tetonfires.com or call the Pinedale Ranger District at 307-367-4326.