Two-day workshop prepares producers, emergency responders for ag emergencies

Emergency response and planning for agricultural emergencies are part of a two-day training workshop in Casper for producers and government entities.

The “Wyoming Ag Responder Academy” is Friday-Saturday, Sept. 8-9, at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds in Casper, said Scott Cotton, University of Wyoming Extension educator and a presenter during the course.

The sessions are sponsored by UW Extension, Colorado State University Extension and Montana State University Extension addressing specific needs of western states that have fewer resources, deal with greater distances and more community dependence on agriculture, said Cotton.

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‘Preparing for wildfire’ sessions set in Ten Sleep, Worland

BLM firefighters on the recent Hidden Dome fire in Washakie County. (Photo: James Yule)

Heavy fuel loads and dry conditions in the Big Horn Basin have prompted two preparing for wildfire sessions for rural homeowners.

The sessions are 6 p.m. Friday, July 28, at the Ten Sleep Community Center, and 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2, at the Washakie County Fairgrounds in Worland.

University of Wyoming Extension educator Caitlin Youngquist is collaborating with Karen Fenton of the Washakie County Conservation District to help landowners develop evacuation plans for livestock and pets and provide information to create defensible space.

The recent fuels and fire behavior advisory from the Wind River Bighorn Basin District of the BLM specifically targeted areas below 5,000 feet.

“We encourage everyone to think about how and where they will move their animals should fire threaten their homes,” Youngquist said. “All of the spring moisture this year contributed to exceptional growth of annual grasses like cheatgrass. The fuel loads are very high, and we have already had four rapidly moving fires in Washakie County.”

The fires, one started by a chain dragging on a highway, burned over 3,500 acres.

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New guide shows Wyoming wildfire patterns, includes safety for prescribed burns

Wildfire in WyomingUniversity of Wyoming Extension rangeland specialist Derek Scasta offers new insights for landowners, livestock producers and others interested in wildland fire in Wyoming and those planning prescribed fires.

“Wildland Fire in Wyoming: Patterns, Influences, and Effects” presents a view of wildfire in the state, including prescribed fires to achieve land management objectives. 

The 24-page publication, available as a free download from University of Wyoming Extension at bit.ly/Wildlandfirewyo, includes original research and findings from more than 50 historical, ecological and firefighting reports and studies.

Scasta examines the influence of drought, weather, season, fuel characteristics and topography on fire behavior and patterns and fire’s effects on soils, plant communities, livestock, wildlife and bark beetle outbreaks. 

“Wildland Fire in Wyoming” covers how to calculate and measure fire intensity and severity and offers guidelines and considerations for prescribed burns that might be applied to improve livestock forage, optimize wildlife habitat, mitigate wildfire risk and protect fire-sensitive plant species. 

Observations are drawn from major fires in Yellowstone in 1988 and Bridger-Teton National Forest in 2012, and others in Teton, Park, Fremont, Sublette, Albany, Platte and Carbon counties up to 2015.

Maps, photographs, tables and modeling results are included, and a resources section directs readers to free fire modeling software, databases, wildfire maps and planning tools.

“Wildland Fire in Wyoming” is one of more than 500 how-to guides and videos available from University of Wyoming Extension (see bit.ly/UWEpubs). For more on fire, see “Living with Wildfire in Wyoming” and “Residential Development Effects of Firefighting Costs in the Wildland-Urban Interface.”

New report suggests strategic land-use planning can increase firefighting efficiency

Anna Scofield
Anna Scofield

Building houses far apart and in locales beyond town – the wildland-urban interface – increases firefighting costs in the Rocky Mountain West, according to a new report from the Open Spaces Initiative at the University of Wyoming.

The authors suggest strategic land use planning can reduce wildfire suppression costs by increasing firefighting efficiency.

“Residential Development Effects on Firefighting Costs in the Wildland-Urban Interface” lead author Anna Scofield spent 10 years as a wildland firefighter before taking up the research at the University of Wyoming.

According to the report, available from the University of Wyoming Extension at bit.ly/Firedevelopmentcost, the dramatic rise in firefighting costs over the last decade is due in part to the growth of residential development in the wildland-urban interface.

“Protecting homes from fire is dangerous and expensive. Solutions to rising costs must address that reality,” said Scofield. (See bit.ly/firecost for a report on Forest Service firefighting expenses.)

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Casper meeting offers Cole Creek area landowners fire recovery information

Scott Cotton
Scott Cotton

A post-fire landscape recovery seminar in Casper hosted by University of Wyoming Extension provides resources for those affected by the Cole Creek Fire in early October.

The event is 5-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, at the Agricultural Resource and Learning Center, 2011 Fairgrounds Rd.

There is no cost, but pre-registration at 307-235-9400 is required by Nov. 18. Refreshments will be served.

Land management experts will make brief presentations and answer questions about programs and resources for wildfire recovery, said Scott Cotton, UW Extension educator in Natrona County and who is the Wyoming contact for the national Extension Disaster Education Network.

His experience includes seven community post-fire incidents, and he said recovery requires sound information and strong community relations.

Cotton said landowner questions have included how to graze after a fire, how soon is grass going to return, what can be planted to keep fire from coming up to a house and what cost-share might be available. Continue reading Casper meeting offers Cole Creek area landowners fire recovery information