forests

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Devastating pine beetle and wild fire epidemics have ravaged our national forests for years. But for the most part, everyone—environmentalists, the timber industry, government agencies—have been in agreement about how to manage such problems…as wild places, not as tree farms in which forests are a crop that’s been wiped out.

US Forest Service

On a routine winter patrol, Powder River Ranger District officials discovered over 100 trees carved with deep one-foot-sized arrows.  District recreation staff member Craig Cope says very rarely has he seen such large-scale vandalizing of trees.  And, he says, it was completely unnecessary.

“There’s much more minimum impact ways of route finding through the woods,” Cope says, “from G-P-S to the nylon ribbon flagging that you can put up temporarily and take down when you’re done.”

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.

Former U.S. Forest Service employee Brian Stout was supervisor of the Bridger-Teton National Forest from 1984 to 1994 and held various other positions in the forest service for the 24 years preceding that.

Stout recently published a book called “Trees of Life: Our Forests in Peril.” He says he wrote the book because he feels that the current way of managing forests is misguided.

landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov

Wyoming Republican John Barrasso is leading a fight in the U.S. Senate to change regulations on timber harvesting in national forests. Matt Laslo reports from Washington that environmentalists and foresters are suspicious of his idea.

Pine and spruce beetles have killed millions of trees across Wyoming and the West. To many, the dying forests are visually unattractive. But there’s a bigger issue. Researchers in the Medicine Bow National Forest are finding that beetle kill has had a major impact on how the forest processes carbon dioxide. Wyoming Public radio’s Willow Belden reports.

Wyoming forest officials anticipate another heavy fire season for this year.

Wyoming State Forester Bill Crapser says recent warm winters have been great for the pine beetle population. He adds that Wyoming pine forests are full of densely-packed stands with trees of the same age, which makes them especially vulnerable to beetles, and that makes them more likely to burn.