U.S. Forest Service

Wyoming Fire Danger Is Low

May 23, 2016
U.S. Forest Service

This week federal officials said that a dry spring has them concerned that there could be a serious summer fire season in the western United States. Of course, few of us in Wyoming understand what a dry spring looks like. Bill Crapser is Wyoming’s state forester. He spoke with Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck.

14 years ago, the state’s bighorn sheep herds were dying from pneumonia that was thought to have been contracted from grazing domestic sheep. Since then, the state has worked with wildlife advocates and ranchers on the so-called Wyoming Plan which designates areas for each species. Last year, the Legislature passed bills formally adopting the Wyoming Plan in hopes of keeping domestic sheep from spreading pneumonia to wild sheep.

A militia group occupying a wildlife refuge in Oregon argues that Westerners want to turn federal lands over to states and private interests. But a new poll released Monday shows that’s not the case.

A majority of voters in seven Rocky Mountain states say they oppose state or private control of public lands. Wyoming was more split on the subject with about 54% of respondents in agreement, compared to 87% in Utah, 59% in Colorado and 63% in Arizona.

Environmental advocates are celebrating this week after Congress passed a bipartisan spending bill that at one point included several provisions blocking conservation efforts.

After much talk of letting it lapse, the 50-year-old Land and Water Conservation Fund was re-authorized to fund city parks and national park in-holdings. It also gave a 6% increase to federal land management agencies, a total of over $32 billion.

Melodie Edwards

For women, it’s never been easy breaking into male-dominated fields. That was the case for Susan Marsh. She’s the author of a new book called A Hunger For High Country. It’s a memoir about how her childhood love for nature led her to become a landscape architect for the U.S. Forest Service. Marsh is now retired and writing a natural history of Jackson’s Cache Creek. On a wildflower walk along the creek with Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards, she talked about her years of struggle during a time when the Forest Service hired very few women.

The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest is looking at closing or limiting access to some 150 miles of forest roads on the west side of the Snowy Range near Saratoga. Every few years, the Forest Service is required to evaluate its roads to make sure they are safe and to budget their upkeep. Forest Service Spokesman Aaron Voos says some roads—like the Cedar Pass Road over Kennedy Peak—just aren’t salvageable.

Melodie Edwards

When you hear the word “boom” in the West, you usually think of the energy industry. But in the last 15 years, there’s been another kind: a timber boom. That’s thanks to the mountain pine beetle, a tiny ravenous bug that’s now chomped its way through over 40 million acres of forest in the U.S., moving north into Canada, expanding its reach as the climate warms.  To clean up all that dead wood, forest managers have turned to the timber industry, leading to a surge in jobs and enterprise. But now, the bugs have almost eaten themselves out of food.

Melodie Edwards

When it comes to the spread of disease from domestic sheep to bighorn sheep, it’s not that different from the arrival of Europeans in the Americas when small pox and other diseases killed millions of indigenous people. Without a built-in immunity, pneumonia can wipe out an entire bighorn sheep herd in no time. And that’s why, last week, the Wyoming legislature passed a pair of historic bills that will effectively keep the two species apart.

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.

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. 

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.

Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso received pushback from the chief of the U.S. Forest Service on his bill to expand timber harvesting on federal lands. 

Barrasso’s legislation would greatly expand the Forest Service’s timber program throughout western states. The senator says it would create jobs and provide a new funding stream for schools in rural areas. Environmentalists accuse Barrasso of trying to gut environmental laws. At a hearing on the bill Thomas Tidwell, the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, told Barrasso he’s wary of how the bill undoes regulations.