UW bulletin details soils research at Rogers Research Site

The high-intensity 2012 Arapaho Fire burned the majority of ponderosa pine across nearly 100,000 acres in the north Laramie Mountains, including young and mature trees at the Rogers Research Site.

A new University of Wyoming bulletin provides important baseline data for current and future studies at the UW-owned Rogers Research Site and surrounding lands in the Laramie Mountains of southeast Wyoming.

RRS Bulletin 6, Soils of the University of Wyoming Rogers Research Site, North Laramie Mountains, Wyoming, B-1298.6, details a soils inventory and mapping project that started in 2009 and continued after the 2012 high-intensity Arapaho Fire, which burned approximately 98,000 acres in the north Laramie Mountains, including RRS.

When Col. William C. Rogers bequeathed his Triple R Ranch to UW in 2002, he stated in his will the 320-acre parcel now named in his memory should be used, in part, for research relating to the improvement of forestry and wildlife resources.

Lead author Larry Munn, now a professor emeritus in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, completed his field work at RRS in 2014, and then collaborated with Shawn Lanning in the Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center and others to create five digital soils maps, both pre- and post-fire.

Objectives, in part, were to provide baseline data for other studies at the site, including one focused on post-fire ponderosa pine restoration, another comparing pre- and post-fire soils, and a third examining how the additions of various soil amendments affect soil microbial community recovery.

UW faculty-student teams are carrying out these ongoing projects. Preliminary findings from the ponderosa pine study were presented in RRS Bulletin 5, and early results from the other two studies will be detailed in a pair of bulletins nearing completion.

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UW bulletin details post-fire ponderosa pine restoration at Rogers Research Site

University of Wyoming undergraduate student Kristina Kline, left, and bulletin co-author Stephanie Winters mark the edge of a subplot prior to starting a ponderosa pine seedling survival survey in July 2017.

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.

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UW bulletin details vegetation mapping at Rogers Research Site

Picture of the bulletin cover, which shows a map with vegetation colored in. A pre-fire vegetation mapping project at the University of Wyoming’s Rogers Research Site (RRS) in southeast Wyoming will help future researchers, land managers and others assess changes in land cover and wildlife habitat at the mountainous site and surrounding lands.

The project is detailed in RRS Bulletin 4: “Vegetation Mapping of Rogers Research Site, north Laramie Mountains, Wyoming, Using High Spatial Resolution Photography and Heads-Up Digitizing.”

Bulletin 4 and others in the series can be downloaded at bit.ly/UWEpubs. Enter Rogers Research Site into the search bar.

“With good luck and fortune, the mapping work was completed prior to the 2012 Arapaho Fire,” said lead author Mathew Seymour. “Thus, our project will help forest managers and those conducting research in the area examine various vegetation as it existed pre-fire and whether post-fire habitats are transitioning back to pre-fire states or are trending toward alternative ecological states.”

The high-intensity wildfire burned ponderosa pine and other vegetation across nearly 100,000 acres in the area of Laramie Peak, including the 320-acre RRS.

The site was bequeathed to UW in 2002 by Col. William C. Rogers, who stated in his will that it be used, in part, for educational purposes and research relating to the improvement of forestry and wildlife resources.

The vegetation mapping work was completed by Seymour in 2006 while he was finishing two bachelor’s degrees at UW. His research and other studies at RRS are now being published in peer-reviewed bulletins by the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES), which manages the site in northeast Albany County.

“The vegetation map will assist researchers and those who manage private and public lands in the north Laramie Mountains regarding land management for socioeconomic and other benefits,” said Seymour, who went on to earn master’s and doctorate degrees at universities in Iceland and Switzerland before taking a postdoctoral research position in the Molecular and Fisheries Genetics Laboratory at Bangor University in Wales.

The map shows that in 2006, RRS was predominantly ponderosa pine forest (80 percent), with mixed grass and shrub lands (10 percent), quaking aspen (4 percent) and other features, including human development.

“When our map and an aerial image of RRS and surrounding lands taken the same year are compared to an aerial image taken in 2015, the dramatic effects of the Arapaho Fire on vegetation are easily seen,” Seymour said.

The lightning-caused wildfire occurred during an extreme drought, and it burned so hot it left many areas completely devoid of vegetation.

The bulletin is co-authored by Ken Driese, a senior lecturer in the UW Department of Botany who mentored Seymour during the mapping project, and WAES editor Robert Waggener.

Driese said the map will help researchers answer many questions about post-fire changes.

“How will shrubs and trees, including ponderosa pine, which once dominated the landscape, respond to the fire?” Driese asked. “Will trees return naturally in great numbers, or will the landscape remain dominated by grasses and shrubs because of climate change, changes in soil due to the fire’s intensity or the establishment of invasive species?”

Additionally, he questioned, “Can humans play a role in managing the soil and vegetation and, ultimately, their effects on wildlife, water and air quality?”

Preliminary findings from a ponderosa pine restoration study and pre- and post-fire soils research will be detailed in upcoming bulletins.

For more information about research at RRS and the bulletins, call John Tanaka at 307-766-5130 or email jtanaka@uwyo.edu.

Researchers needing a high-resolution version of the bulletins or figures within the bulletins should contact the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center at 307-837-2000 or sarec@uwyo.edu.

UW bulletin details research, teaching opportunities at Rogers Research Site

UW bulletin details research, teaching opportunities at Rogers Research Site
Rogers Research Site and nearly 100,000 acres surrounding Laramie Peak burned during the 2012 Arapaho Fire, which dramatically changed research and instructional potential there and on neighboring lands.

Research, extension and instructional opportunities relating to forestry, wildlife and other natural resources await University of Wyoming faculty, staff, students and outside collaborators, according to a new bulletin published by the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES).

The bulletin details the potential for such activities at the UW-owned Rogers Research Site, a 320-acre parcel in the Laramie Mountains near Laramie Peak in southeast Wyoming.

Bulletin 3 and others in the series can be downloaded at bit.ly/UWEpubs. Enter Rogers Research Site into the search bar.

Williams said RRS along with adjacent State of Wyoming-owned parcels provide more than 1,000 acres of mountainous land for potential research and teaching.

“The RRS is being developed to specifically address forestry- and wildlife-related issues,” he said.

Short- and long-term goals for the site are also detailed in RRS Bulletin 3, “A Conceptual Framework to Guide Research and Teaching at Rogers Research Site, north Laramie Mountains, Wyoming.”

The bulletin, co-authored by WAES editor Robert Waggener, also contains a story about the late Col. William C. Rogers, who bequeathed the land to UW in 2002.

The property and nearly 100,000 acres surrounding Laramie Peak burned during the 2012 Arapaho Fire, which dramatically changed research and instructional potential at RRS and neighboring lands.

“The investigations at RRS are now focused on regeneration of forests post-fire,” said Williams, who has led much of the early planning and research at the site in extreme northeast Albany County. “RRS is also positioned ecologically and politically to address other land-management issues related to water, soil erosion, invasive species, recreational use, climate change and management of nutrients in soil, to name a few.”

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

“The research plots that were established on regeneration of the forests, pre- and post-fire soils comparisons and other baseline information collected will provide the basis for learning for decades to come,” said UW Professor John Tanaka, director of SAREC and associate director of WAES.

Many people, both within and outside UW, were involved in early planning at RRS, including former SAREC director Jim Freeburn.

“Working with the neighbors and people interested in the Rogers Research Site was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career with UW,” Freeburn said. “The residents of that area care about their neighbors and the natural resource base in the Laramie Mountains.”

A vegetation mapping survey at RRS, preliminary findings from a ponderosa pine restoration study and pre- and post-fire soils research will be detailed in upcoming bulletins. UW students and their faculty mentors, along with outside collaborators, have been involved in the projects.

For more information about research at RRS and the bulletins, call John Tanaka at 307-766-5130 or email jtanaka@uwyo.edu.

UW bulletin introduces Rogers Research Site, post-fire studies

A decorated U.S. Army officer quietly bequeathed his 320-acre mountainous property to the University of Wyoming in 2002 and since then UW faculty members and students in an equally quiet manner have been conducting studies relating to the improvement of forestry and wildlife resources in Wyoming and beyond.

Several of the research teams are now in the final stages of completing peer-reviewed bulletins detailing their investigations, including the restoration of ponderosa pine forest following a high-intensity wildfire in 2012.

Their studies are being conducted on land that was willed to UW by Col. William C. Rogers, who retired to southeast Wyoming’s rugged Laramie Mountains after his distinguished career in the military, which took him to the Western Front during World War II.

An overview of the research, a story about the most interesting Col. Rogers and details about the land he donated to UW are in RRS Bulletin 1, Introduction to the University of Wyoming’s Rogers Research Site, north Laramie Mountains, Wyoming, the first publication in the RRS series. In the coming weeks and months, additional bulletins will be released to the public that showcase early planning efforts and studies at the property near the prominent Laramie Peak northwest of Wheatland.

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