Conifer removal on South Pass to improve habitat
Lander- A large habitat enhancement project will continue this month in the South Pass area near the Beaver Creek Nordic Ski Trails and along the Louis Lake Road. The primary focus is restoring aging aspen stands where conifers are replacing aspen through natural forest succession.
By shading aspen and competing for sunlight, moisture, and nutrients, conifers crowd out aspen which is an important component of wildlife habitat and healthy landscapes.
Other goals of the project include reducing wildfire risk through the removal of fuels and improving shrub, riparian, and stream communities to benefit wildlife.
Game and Fish Habitat Biologist Amy Anderson is working on the project and noted its importance. “The area provides crucial winter, parturition, and transitional range for deer, pronghorn, elk, moose, as well as important summer sage-grouse habitat. Over the past several decades the health of the habitat in that area has declined, and this project hopes to reverse that trend.”
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 350 acres of USFS land, 300 acres of BLM land, and 50 acres of Wyoming State land have been treated. In 2017, 545 acres of USFS land will be treated in areas along Louis Lake Road and the Beaver Creek Nordic Ski Trails. In the areas adjacent to the ski trails a buffer of conifers will be left to provide shade and a wind break.
Nearly $850,000 has been secured for the project to include contributions from Wyoming Wildlife Natural Resource Trust, Mule Deer Foundation, Muley Fanatics Foundation,
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.
More pictures are here, and for more information contact Amy Anderson at 307-332-2688.