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Conservation Groups Object To Medicine Bow Restoration, Logging Plan

Duane Keown

Some conservation groups are pushing back against a potential long term restoration program in Medicine Bow National Forest.

The U.S. Forest Service could green light significant logging and clear cutting in the Sierra Madre and Snowy Ranges over the next 15 years.

And some conservation groups, including the Sierra Club's Wyoming chapter, are not happy about it.

The project's stated aim is to manage vegetation and fire risk, and to identify and approve individual projects on a case-by-case basis over the next decade and a half.

Connie Wilbert with the Sierra Club's state chapter said the construction of temporary roads, and other habitat disruptions, will degrade water quality and hurt threatened animal species.

"Throughout this entire project, we have had serious concerns, which have only grown over time," Wilbert said. "This project is unprecedented in its size and scope.

A Forest Service spokesman said the agency is responding to an unprecedented situation as it seeks to improve forest conditions.

Adam Rissien of WildEarth Guardians said the project is also based on outdated science and won't actually serve the stated goals.

"This is not a restoration project, and it shouldn't be authorized under the Health Forest Restoration Act," Rissien said.

The U.S. Forest Service disagrees.

"Through the administrative review process, the reviewing officer will evaluate the merits of the project based on what is contained in the decision, the final Environmental Impact Statement and the project records," a spokesman wrote in an email. "The Forest Service maintains a responsibility to utilize best available science in decision-making."

The objection period is over, but the U.S. Forest Service has scheduled a objection resolution meeting for June 2, with the objectors. 

Have question about this story? Contact the reporter, Jeff Victor at jvictor@uwyo.edu.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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