forest

A group tasked with making recommendations about forest policy in Wyoming is meeting this week in Saratoga.

Originally called the Governor’s Forest Health Task Force, the group dropped that name after members couldn’t agree on what constitutes forest health. Jessica Crowder, with the Governor’s office, says the new name, Task Force on Forests, better reflects the broad range of management ideas the group is considering.

A study by UW scientists finds that bedrock plays as big of a role as climate in determining how much vegetation grows in an area.

Bedrock is the layer of rock beneath the soil.

Lead author Jesse Hahm says he did the research because he was puzzled by the patchiness of forest cover.

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.”

Much of Wyoming is seeing the outbreak of forest fires this month, and officials at the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest are on alert. Vern Bentley is the fire management officer for the forest. He says they are preparing for a major fire for a couple of reasons. One is that moisture this year has caused grass and other plants known to be fuels are growing more than normal. The other issue is the large number of pine needles on the ground due to Bark Beetle killed trees.