CO, WY, and SD to receive $40 million to deal with beetle-killed forests

The U. S. Forest Service is making $40 million available in three states where the mountain pine beetle has infested more than 2.5 million acres. The USFS announced that $30 would go to Colorado, $8 million to Wyoming, and $2 million to South Dakota where about 30 percent of the Black Hills National Forest is affected. The dollars will come from left over stimulus funds and reallocations within the Forest Service. About $5 million will come from funding that the Forest Service has been using to reduce the threat of wildfires.

The $40 million will be used for hazardous fuel reduction, on road and trail maintenance, and on providing assistance to state and local governments.

The USFS said:

The epidemic has had a severe impact on forest health and has resulted in a dramatic increase in the danger of trees falling on roads, trails and recreation areas. In addition, these dead and dying trees greatly increase the risk of fire danger in the communities of the Rocky Mountain Region and elsewhere in forested areas of the United States.

Some campgrounds have been temporarily closed in Colorado and Wyoming because of of the danger from falling trees.

Andy Stahl, the executive director of the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics is concerned that trails or facilities won’t be maintained because of taxpayer dollars being spent on “removing dead trees from remote areas in the Colorado Rockies”. Stahl believes the beetle-killed trees are not the wildfire risk that the Forest Service says they are.

As Wildfire Today reported in November, Steve Gage’s National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) team out of Boise has been tasked to develop plans to deal with some of the effects of the beetle infestation. Some of the objectives of the Team are to manage the removal of hazard trees along roads, power lines and in campgrounds; develop safety protocols for those working in beetle infested area; and develop fire preparedness and management plans to address the increased wildfire threat posed by dead and falling trees.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.