The Governor’s new Forest Health Task Force met for the first time last week, and faced some challenges right off the bat -- namely, defining what forest health means.
Jessica Crowder is with the governor’s policy office. She says the 19-person group struggled to come to an agreement on the subject.
“There’s a lot of different viewpoints on what a healthy forest actually looks like, and how you actually get there," Crowder says. "What we found is that the term ‘forest health’ is a very value-laden term.”
Fire danger rose to a “high” rating this week for both Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park, due to a combination of warm weather, low humidity and strong winds.
Traci Weaver, a spokeswoman for Bridger-Teton, says that dry vegetation and a higher-than-usual number of lightning strikes already posed a fire risk… But campers have abandoned more than 100 campfires this season, compounding the danger. Weaver urges campers to be responsible forest stewards.
Slash piles around the state are still intact in Wyoming, which is unusual. Slash piles are made of accumulated debris from clearing forests or trimming trees and typically by this time in the year, they’ve been burned.
The Fire Management Officer for the Wyoming State Forestry Division, Ron Graham, says they’ve started burning piles in the Casper Mountain, Muddy Mountain, and Black Hills area, but low snow pack has delayed the burning.