New publication shares path to UW research near Laramie Peak

Researcher uses hand-held GPS tool outdoors.
Larry Munn, now retired from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, uses GPS as part of habitat studies at the Rogers Research Center.

How 320 acres in the Laramie Mountains came to be a field site where University of Wyoming students and faculty members conduct forestry and wildlife research is the subject of a new publication about the Rogers Research Site (RRS) northwest of Wheatland.

Ranchers, farmers, cabin owners and other area residents, along with UW, state and federal employees, played a role in the direction of the UW-owned site, according to RRS Bulletin 2, Wide constituency guides early activities and research at Rogers Research Site, north Laramie Mountains, Wyoming.

Their recommendations and a summary of current and completed studies are detailed in the bulletin, available for downloaded at bit.ly/UWEpubs. Enter Rogers Research Site into the search bar.

In 2002, U.S. Army Col. William C. Rogers (1906–2003) bequeathed his land near Laramie Peak to UW with the stipulation that it be used, in part, for research relating to the improvement of forestry and wildlife resources in the Laramie Mountains and across Wyoming.

RRS is under management of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES) and one of its four research and extension centers, the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture R&E Center (SAREC) near Lingle.

“WAES is dedicated to serving the people of Wyoming with relevant research,” said UW professor John Tanaka, director of SAREC and associate director of WAES. “As we began planning for RRS, having field days at the site was important for framing the questions we wanted to address.”

Robert Waggener, WAES editor and author of this second bulletin in the RSS series, said that 70 people at a field day in 2005 were asked to rank their priorities for the site.

“Their input provided an important stepping stone for early planning and research,” Waggener said. “Among their top recommendations were forestry and wildlife habitat research, student education, and studies involving water, range ecology and livestock grazing.”

UW employees, students and representatives from the Laramie Peak Fire Zone, Platte County Weed and Pest Control District, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and other agencies contributed further input during later field days and planning sessions.

Former SAREC director Jim Freeburn oversaw early activities at the site.

“The support and responses from agency personnel have been tremendous, and people from the Laramie Peak area gave insightful comments that were heartfelt and showed a passion for the land and resources,” said Freeburn, now the regional training coordinator with Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.

“Col. Rogers had a great interest in research in forest environments, and it is my hope that UW will carry that tradition forward and complete research that benefits the area and our knowledge base,” Freeburn added.

A quick research shift followed the high-intensity Arapaho Fire in 2012, which burned nearly 100,000 acres in the Laramie Mountains, including RRS lands.

“While the initial thoughts were to study an intact forested landscape,” said Tanaka, “that focus changed with the Arapaho Fire to one of forest restoration.”

Preliminary findings from the ponderosa pine restoration study, a vegetation mapping survey and pre- and post-fire soils research will be detailed in upcoming bulletins. A limited number of printed copies of the first two bulletins will be available at the annual SAREC open house (2753 State Highway 157 near Lingle), 4–8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24.

For more information about the free event, research at RRS or the bulletins, call 307-837-2000 or email sarec@uwyo.edu. An open house schedule is at http://www.uwyo.edu/uwexpstn/centers/sarec/.