Monument Ridge Project continues on Big Piney District

Courtesy image This map depicts the area where a prescribed fire is planned for mid-June on 2,150 acres north of the Monument Ridge Lookout and Hoback Guard Station.

BONDURANT — The Bridger-Teton National Forest anticipates initiating the next phase of the Monument Ridge Vegetation and Recreation Management Project this spring. The project area is located on the Big Piney Ranger District in the Bridger-Teton National Forest near Bondurant. The habitat/fuels treatment area is situated within Sublette County’s wildland urban interface (WUI): Monument Ridge borders the western edge of the treatment area, and the residential area along the Hoback River borders the eastern edge.

The project, proposed by the Sublette County Collaborative, is multifaceted. It encompasses fuels reduction within the wildland urban interface, wildlife habitat enhancement and safety and access improvements for recreation. These activities will improve forest health, promote wildlife populations for elk, mule deer and sage grouse and provide sustainable recreation opportunities well into the future.

A prescribed fire is planned for mid-June on 2,150 acres north of the Monument Ridge Lookout and Hoback Guard Station. The Forest Service prepared this area in 2020 by felling trees and allowing the fuels to cure during the intervening time, preparing the area for the planned prescribed fire. The cured fuel and timing for this spring allow fire personnel to implement the burn while utilizing high fuel moisture in the surrounding vegetation to keep the fire within the project boundaries.

Additionally, fuels managers are planning for contractors and fire crews falling trees south of Horse Pasture Draw along Monument Ridge to prepare for a planned prescribed fire in 2025. The thinning implementation is scheduled to begin as early as June and end no later than Sept. 30. These treatments remove conifer encroachment in aspen stands and encourage aspen reproduction through the disturbance of prescribed fire. This treatment also removes conifer encroachment from the sage steppe, increasing the health of the sagebrush ecosystem. The project is also designed to reduce hazardous fuel loading to mitigate the risk of high-intensity, severe wildfires.

Implementation of this year’s prescribed fire will begin with suitable weather and climate conditions. The prescribed burn objectives are to treat the area in a “mosaic” pattern producing mixed severity results. These results create a patchwork of different severities, ranging from unburned to low severity patches where only ground fuels burn, to high severity patches where canopy and ground fuels burn. This will enhance habitat by increasing forage (i.e., grass, forbs and shrubs) and will stimulate aspen growth in areas where they have declined due to the lack of wildfire disturbance.
During operations, smoke may be visible from Pinedale, Big Piney and Jackson. A combination of resources will be on-site including helicopters. Ignitions are expected to last for three to five days, with smoke expected to linger for one to two days after. Resources will remain in the area patrolling and ensuring the fire remains within the set boundaries.