Forest Service

114,000 new acres of bark beetle kill has been detected in an aerial survey done by the State Forestry Division for 2014. Most of that is in Bridger-Teton and Shoshone National Forests. 

Les Koch is the division’s Forest Health Specialist and says while warmer weather didn’t help in deterring the Pine, Spruce, and Douglas-Fir beetles, they have already killed many of their suitable host trees. While 2014 did see an increase in acres affected, over the last few years the overall trend has been downward.

Roughly a year after its first meeting, the Wyoming Task Force on Forests has released its recommendations.

Governor Matt Mead convened the task force to offer forest management recommendations in response to recent forest ecosystems changes such as bark beetle infestations and more severe wildfires. The group’s report offers 12 key recommendations and numerous sub-recommendations on topics ranging from roadless areas to biomass plants to fire management. 

David Koch

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.

The U.S. Forest Service is analyzing how additional oil and gas development would affect a 44,000-acre parcel of land in the Wyoming Range. The study will help the agency decide whether to allow energy leasing in the area.

The Petroleum Association of Wyoming says that because it’s multiple use land, the Forest Service should continue to allow oil and gas development. But Steve Kilpatrick with the Wyoming Wildlife Federation says new development in the Wyoming Range would harm important wildlife habitat.

A host of recreation and conservation organizations from around the nation, including some local Wyoming groups, have asked Congress to address inadequate trail maintenance in the National Forest system. According to a 2013 study requested by Representative Cynthia Lummis the Forest Service’s trail maintenance backlog was $314 million in 2012. The study said poorly maintained trails inhibit trail use, could harm natural resources, and maintenance costs will only grow the longer the backlog remains unaddressed.

A Wyoming man has won a U-S Supreme Court  decision over a dispute with the U-S Forest Service.  Marvin Brandt of Fox Park swapped his land for 83 acres of Medicine Bow Forest Service land in the 70’s, with the understanding that the land would be his if a railroad that used the land ever stopped running. 

The town of Jackson is looking to buy a piece of property from the U.S. Forest Service.

The Forest Service plans to get rid of the 10-acre parcel on the outskirts of town and would normally auction it off to the highest bidder. But Jackson officials have asked the agency to consider a direct sale, where they would skip the auction and just negotiate a price with the town.