Prescribed Fire

Prescribed fire is an important management tool for improving bighorn sheep habitat and reducing hazardous fuels in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA). Decades of fire suppression policy, climate change, overgrazing, and dispersal of seed by livestock related to settlement of the area have contributed to the increase of hazardous fuels and the distribution and dominance of juniper woodland. Juniper woodland composes about 40% of Bighorn Canyon NRA and is important habitat to the long-term viability of the park’s small bighorn sheep population. Expanding juniper competes with forage grasses and impede the ability of bighorn sheep to avoid predation by detecting mountain lions. Most natural wildfires in the Bighorn Canyon area occur in juniper woodland and in approximately 30-50 year intervals. Prescribed fire reintroduces the natural process of fire into the ecosystem, improves habitat, and is a tool for maintaining historic landscapes, protecting resources, and reducing exotic species.

Updated 2/12/08