(Lander, Wyo.)- Work is scheduled to continue next week on a large habitat enhancement project in the South Pass area near Rock Creek, Beaver Creek, and Iron Mountain. This is a part of a ten-year project that started in 2015 with a primary focus of restoring aspen stands.
Aspen provide crucial wildlife habitat and are important firebreaks for structures and towns like Atlantic City and Miner’s Delight. Aspen require disturbance (like fire or conifer cutting) to regenerate. In the absence of disturbance, like in the South Pass area, aspen have been crowded out by conifers through natural succession.
There are numerous benefits to keeping aspen on the landscape says Game and Fish Habitat Biologist Amy Anderson, “They allow for a more diverse system of plants and animals and provide crucial winter, parturition, and transitional range for deer, pronghorn, elk, and moose. Aspens also hold water in a system and provide firebreaks for nearby structures.”
The work is a collaborative effort between the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Wyoming State Forestry Division, Fremont County Firewise, Popo Agie Conservation District, and private landowners.
To date, roughly 1,205 acres of USFS, BLM, and Wyoming State lands have been treated and in 2018, an additional 350 acres will be treated. Crews will work from 6:00 am until 3:00 pm each day cutting conifers out of aspen stands. Work is scheduled to be finished by October 1.
Approximately $1,250,000 has been secured for the project to include contributions from Wyoming Wildlife Natural Resource Trust, Mule Deer Foundation, Muley Fanatics Foundation-10 County Chapter, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition, Popo Agie Conservation District, USFS, BLM, Shoshone National Forest Resource Advisory Committee, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Habitat Trust Fund, and Mule Deer Initiative.