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Mon February 21, 2005
Bighorn Forest Now Weighing New Wilderness
Sheridan, WY – A new 20,000-30,000 acre wilderness area could be recommended for the Bighorn National Forest. The Rock Creek Wilderness idea will be discussed this week at a meeting of a steering committee that is working on revising the Bighorn Forest Plan. Forest Supervisor Bill Bass says the idea is on the table because there was quite a response from the public supporting additional wilderness. Bass says the area has wilderness characteristics. He also says it borders the mostly above-timberline Cloud Peak Wilderness and would give them wilderness across the elevation spectrum of the forest. If the forest decides to move ahead with the wilderness idea, it would still require an act of Congress. County Commissions around the Forest may oppose the effort, as Bass admits that there are a variety of desires when it comes to management of the forest. Those commissioners, as well as conservation districts and state officials will be able to share their thoughts on Thursday's steering committee meeting in Greybull. Among the possible drawbacks of a new wilderness area, Bass says management activities would be restricted. For example, he says there would be some barriers to prescribed burns to improve wildlife habitat.