National Forest Service Approves Controversial Medicine Bow Management Plan

Aug 26, 2020

An area of Medicine Bow National Forest affected by the mountain pine beetle epidemic.
Credit National Forest Service

The National Forest Service is launching a new restoration project in Medicine Bow National Forest.

The Landscape Vegetation Analysis Project (LaVA) aims to make the area healthier by getting rid of trees killed by beetles. Forest Supervisor Russ Bacon said they'll accomplish that with prescribed burns and logging.

"The primary goal is really to address this sea of dead lodgepole, if you will, that is present on the landscape," said Bacon. "The fires that are burning in Colorado right now I think are really good reminders for us why LaVA is important."

However, the project is controversial with environmental groups. Ted Zukoski, with the Center for Biological Diversity, said the environmental impacts are not well known.

"What the forest service has done here is to say, 'We're not gonna tell ya where any of those roads are going to be built, we're not going to tell ya when and how we're going to be implementing these clear cuts and other treatments. We'll figure that all out later, trust us,'" he said.

The project allows the Forest Service to treat over 200,000 acres of land and build 600 miles of temporary roads. The federal agency said it plans to accept stakeholder and public input throughout the project.

Have a question about this story? Please contact the reporter, Ashley Piccone, at apiccone@uwyo.edu.