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Opinion: The Impact of Federal Management on Wyoming Forests

The most common reason given against assuming control of our federally managed lands is the claim that the state cannot afford them. The example used to promote this view is the growing cost of wildfire suppression. This claim ignores the central problem: mismanagement that has resulted in the disastrous state we find our forests in. Anyone who has driven through our state has witnessed the pine beetle epidemic that plagues our forests. By systematically refusing to remove dead or dying timber the Forest Service has left our treasured forests at a tipping point.
One fire could easily destroy thousands of acres of forest, homes and other structures, while burning so hot that the ground would be sterilized. In 2012 Wyoming experienced seven times the average amount of acres burned and total fires. It's the most expensive year on record that doesn't include fires in Yellowstone or Grand Teton, which are not part of the lands transfer. The cost for those fires in 2012 was under $100 million. Yet, despite recent downturn the state stands to gain an extra $900 million yearly in mineral royalties under my plan. That figure would improve substantially as we grow our economy. 

This is not to say that fire suppression is not a concern. In 1995 the Forest Service spent 16% of its budget on putting out fires. In 2015 that grew to 52% of their total budget. For 2020 the USFS projects that 67% of their budget will go to fire suppression. The time has come when the federal government decides what fires it can afford to suppress. It's important to remember, that in 1995 we had true multiple use and a robust forest management plan. Fires were more manageable and there were logging roads which provided access. However, the "Roadless Rule" implemented by President Bill Clinton in 2001 curtailed active forest management. This allowed the forests to deteriorate and the Pine Beetle devastation to begin. This started us down the path we are on now.
It's time to stop playing the game of federal "management," and to accomplish real management. An active forest management plan, carried out at the state level, will revitalize our forests reduce the number and the severity of the fires. Our forest product industry will be reborn. Roads that have been closed for decades will be reopened for true multiple use, recreation, logging, and fire management. To help with this effort I've enlisted the help of an internationally recognized forestry group with ties to the state to begin this recovery. I invite all interested parties to share their thoughts.
The most common reason given against assuming control of our federally managed lands is the claim that the state cannot afford them. The example used to promote this view is the growing cost of wildfire suppression. This claim ignores the central problem: mismanagement that has resulted in the disastrous state we find our forests in. Anyone who has driven through our state has witnessed the pine beetle epidemic that plagues our forests. By systematically refusing to remove dead or dying timber the Forest Service has left our treasured forests at a tipping point.
One fire could easily destroy thousands of acres of forest, homes and other structures, while burning so hot that the ground would be sterilized. In 2012 Wyoming experienced seven times the average amount of acres burned and total fires. It's the most expensive year on record that doesn't include fires in Yellowstone or Grand Teton, which are not part of the lands transfer. The cost for those fires in 2012 was under $100 million. Yet, despite recent downturn the state stands to gain an extra $900 million yearly in mineral royalties under my plan. That figure would improve substantially as we grow our economy.

This is not to say that fire suppression is not a concern. In 1995 the Forest Service spent 16% of its budget on putting out fires. In 2015 that grew to 52% of their total budget. For 2020 the USFS projects that 67% of their budget will go to fire suppression. The time has come when the federal government decides what fires it can afford to suppress. It's important to remember, that in 1995 we had true multiple use and a robust forest management plan. Fires were more manageable and there were logging roads which provided access. However, the "Roadless Rule" implemented by President Bill Clinton in 2001 curtailed active forest management. This allowed the forests to deteriorate and the Pine Beetle devastation to begin. This started us down the path we are on now.
It's time to stop playing the game of federal "management," and to accomplish real management. An active forest management plan, carried out at the state level, will revitalize our forests reduce the number and the severity of the fires. Our forest product industry will be reborn. Roads that have been closed for decades will be reopened for true multiple use, recreation, logging, and fire management. To help with this effort I've enlisted the help of an internationally recognized forestry group with ties to the state to begin this recovery. I invite all interested parties to share their thoughts.


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