Afton, Wyo. – The Bridger-Teton National Forest is proposing, over the course of 10-years, to conduct prescribed burns on about 10,000 to 16,000 acres across an area of about 64,600 acres.
The project area is located just east of Afton, Wyoming and extends about 8-miles north to just south of the Town of Turnerville and about 8-miles south to just north of the Town of Smoot.
This prescribed burn project is a cooperative project between the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Wyoming Game and Fish Habitat Trust, the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust, and Teton Science Schools. Richard Raione, District Ranger of the Greys River Ranger District, said that “the willingness of agencies and organizations to partner with the Forest Service and to provide funding for habitat projects is what is going to make success possible. Partnerships are very important to the work we do and we greatly appreciate their efforts.”
“The main purpose of the project,” according to Don DeLong, Program Manager for Wildlife and Range, “is to improve age-class diversity and plant vigor in mountain shrubland, big sagebrush, and aspen communities, especially on mule deer and elk winter range.” Ben Banister, Assistant Fire Management Officer, added that “an additional benefit will be a reduction in fuel loading, which will assist in the management of future wildland fires and will help to reduce impacts to domestic water supplies.”
Banister went on to say that “actual ignition will be dependent on meeting strict parameters for weather and fire behavior conditions.” Both hand ignition and aerial ignitions with a helicopter will be used. Forest users may experience temporary smoky conditions in the vicinity of the burn unit, along with the possibility of occasional, short-term trail or road closures. Banister stressed that “Interagency fire managers will work hard to minimize any adverse impacts as the burn proceeds.”
The Forest is soliciting comments this project to assist in issue identification, to help in making any necessary changes to the proposed action, and to determine if other alternatives will need to be developed. Interested individuals should submit comments to Richard Raione, District Ranger, Greys River Ranger District, P.O. Box 339, Afton, WY 83110. To ensure comments will be included in this analysis, comments should be postmarked by January 21, 2014.
Two public scoping meetings will be held at the Greys River District office, for those looking for additional information and input into the project. The first meeting will be January 15, 2014 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm and the second meeting will be the following day, January 16, from 12:00pm – 2:00pm.