Improvements made to crucial southern Big Horn Mountain winter range

(Sheridan, Wyo.) — The BLM, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Wyoming Wildlife and Resource Trust, the Mule Deer Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation have been in partnership in 2011 to enhance big game crucial winter range along the Southern Big Horn Mountains in Johnson County. The project, in its fourth year, continues to help improve mule deer habitat by removing smaller trees of selected conifers, primarily ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, and juniper. It also removes diseased, dead or over-represented limber pine from curl-leaf mahogany communities. Conifer species encroach into mahogany, and will eventually out-compete mahogany plants that are a source of nutrition for mule deer. “The beauty of this type of treatment is that you see immediate beneficial results as the conifers are removed from the mahogany stands,” said BLM Fire Ecologist Jennifer Walker. Additionally, improvements to the habitat reduce competition between mule deer and elk. Removing selected conifers near mahogany stands also reduces the amount of fuel for fires. The state and federal agencies coordinated this effort with private landowners and conservation groups, as well as completing the National Environmental Policy Act documents, surveying the treatment areas and provided contract oversight. Since 2011, the project has helped nearly 5,000 acres of habitat. *Feature photo Wikimedia Commons / Pitchengine Communities* #dally #news