The Bureau of Land Management estimates that there are about 50% higher than average fine fuel loads in the Big Horn Basin.
Coupled with dry conditions, Northern Wyoming land is right now extremely vulnerable to wildfires.
That's why there are two public sessions this week and next that will help rural landowners prepare for fire devastation.
Caitlin Youngquist is the Extension Educator with the University of Wyoming.
She works with farmers, ranchers, and gardeners, particularly around northwest Wyoming to help them make sense of research coming out of the University "to make better decisions, and help put the information that they need in their hands."
Youngquist is collaborating with Karen Fenton of the Washakie County Conservation District to help landowners develop evacuation plans for livestock and pets.
"These sessions are targeted more at the sort of small acreage folks with small flocks and herd–and of course anyone is welcome–but these planning sessions are really going to be targeted at 4-H families and other folks who have a few horses, a few cows, and maybe a small flock of sheep near their home," said Fenton. "And the idea is we’re going to talk about defensible space and what that means and why it’s so important in a year this year when we have a high fuel load.”
Younquist says session leaders will guide attendees step-by-step on how to develop an evacuation plan for their animals.
“And just a reminder to folks that you might have some very well behaved animals but as soon as there’s smoke in the air and you’re in a hurry and anxious, they’re going to turn into a wild bunch.”
A couple firefighters will be attending the sessions to teach attendees how to think like an emergency responder—what they look for when land is on fire and how to assess an area that is up in flames.
Firefighters will also share tips to property owners on what they can do right now to make a possible wildfire easier to manage.