Bark beetles have ravaged western forests in recent years, leaving behind huge swaths of dead trees.
In a series of ten short films premiering in Wyoming this week, the Forest Service and the University of Wyoming’s Ruckelshaus Institute have teamed up to spotlight some of the impacts of the outbreak, and the ways managers are responding to it. The Institute’s Emilene Ostlind says the series covers everything from bark beetles’ effect on Cheyenne’s water supply to how beetle kill is turned into lumber to her personal favorite, which focuses on researchers at the university.
“It’s done in the style of a zombie movie, where the researchers are sort of a posse, out in the forest," Ostlind says, "and they’re trying to figure out how these dead and dying trees are changing the way water moves through the forest.”
Ostlind says using the tools and techniques of classic storytelling to get people in engaged in issues is a new approach for the Forest Service, and one she hopes will be replicated by others.
The series premieres at the university in Laramie on Tuesday at 5:30 pm. Additional screenings will be held in Wyoming and Colorado in coming months.