A new University of Wyoming bulletin contributes to the building knowledge base of post-fire ponderosa pine restoration across Wyoming and the West.
UW faculty members, students and others are exploring best management practices for restoring a ponderosa pine forest following the 2012 Arapaho Fire, which burned approximately 98,000 acres in the north Laramie Mountains of southeast Wyoming.
They are conducting the ongoing study at the 320-acre Rogers Research Site (RRS) in extreme northeast Albany County. The fire killed the majority of ponderosa at the site, which is owned by UW and managed by the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES) within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
In 2015, a UW faculty-student team launched the long-term project at RRS to investigate the impacts of different restoration treatments applied to the post-fire landscape. Early
findings are detailed in RRS Bulletin 5, Restoration of Ponderosa Pine Following High-Intensity Fire, Rogers Research Site, North Laramie Mountains, Wyoming. B-1298.5.
Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) has evolved to survive frequent, low-intensity fires, which clear out the understory. But high-severity fires like the Arapaho, which occurred during a severe drought, are killing the thick-barked trees, and research is still evolving to determine best management practices for restoring P. ponderosa forests following such fires.
“Extreme wildfire seasons are occurring concurrently with drought, and our research is trying to determine if utilizing management practices like broadcast-seeding ponderosa pine seed or hand-planting seedlings are viable options for reforestation,” said co-author Stephanie Winters, a graduate student in the UW Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.