Fire restrictions are popping up across Eastern Wyoming.
Despite the wet spring, weather forecasters are predicting an average fire season in July and August, when plant material is most flammable. Natrona joins Converse, Johnson and Platte Counties in posting restrictions to prevent wildfires in the region.
Slash piles around the state are still intact in Wyoming, which is unusual. Slash piles are made of accumulated debris from clearing forests or trimming trees and typically by this time in the year, they’ve been burned.
The Fire Management Officer for the Wyoming State Forestry Division, Ron Graham, says they’ve started burning piles in the Casper Mountain, Muddy Mountain, and Black Hills area, but low snow pack has delayed the burning.
Bark Beetles and forest fires continue to grab the attention of Wyomingites. In fact many believe that climate change is behind both problems. Butch Blazer is the Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment for the US Department of Agriculture. We sat down with him as he visited with regional foresters in Cheyenne last week. Blazer says Beetle kill remains a serious problem in the Rocky Mountain West
The aggressive fire season of the last few years has gotten the attention of the U-S Forest Service.
Officials say they are trying to study the fires to determine how to reduce both the number of fires and their severity to get a better understanding of their impact on the environment. It’s been widely thought that fires are good for forests, but Department of Agriculture officials want to know more. U-S-D-A Deputy Under Secretary Butch Blazer says there is concern that there may be negative impacts.
A number of researchers are asking federal officials to consider setting up what are known as fire plains. These are areas that could be managed like flood plains, because the areas are susceptible to forest fires.
The idea is to either limit development in those areas or make sure that such development is done in the safest possible way. Doctor Tony Cheng with the Forest Restoration Institute says it’s tricky because fires can be unpredictable.
Firefighters quickly pounced on new wildfires started by lightning in northern Wyoming as they contained or gained near containment on the state's largest fires. The fire situation has improved a great deal in Wyoming because of rain and cooler weather over the weekend. Firefighters are being reassigned elsewhere or are being rested.
Thanks to crew efforts and a break in temperatures, officials say growth has slowed on the Arapaho, Oil Creek, Fontenelle, and Squirrel Creek fires. State Forester Bill Crapser says they’ve turned a corner.
“Everybody I’ve talked to on all the fires are real optimistic on the progress being made, so we’re really not expecting to see major growth on any of the fires,” Crapser said.
Protecting homes and cabins is the focus for firefighters battling the Squirrel Creek fire in the Medicine Bow National forest near Woods Landing. The fire has consumed more than 7000 acres and Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos said it established itself on Sheep Mountain on Tuesday and had burned down towards Highway 230.
He said residents on Fox Creek Road have been evacuated and protecting those homes and structures has been a point of emphasis. But Voos adds that there are other areas of concern.
A new wildfire has erupted in Wyoming. The Fontenelle Fire is burning in the Bridger-Teton National Forest about 30 miles northwest of LaBarge in western Wyoming. It has burned about 100 acres and firefighters are being deployed to combat it. The cause of the fire, which was reported on Sunday, is under investigation. Meantime, the Russell's Camp fire burning south of Glenrock grew to more than 8 square miles over the weekend, but firefighters have managed to gain 25 percent containment.
Fire managers in the Jackson area have raised the fire danger rating to “high” for Teton County, the Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park.
National Park spokesperson Jackie Skaggs says the rating is based on a combination of high temperatures, high winds, low humidity and low moisture content in plants. She says campers need to be exceptionally careful with cigarettes, camp stoves and camp fires.