In the first part of our two part series on the impacts of the bark beetle in the Big Horn Mountains, we told that while there are some signs of bark beetle infestation, the problem is nowhere severe as it is in other parts of the state and country. Big Horn National Forest officials continue to keep a close eye on the situation, as once the bark beetle stakes its claim, there usually isn't much that can be done to alleviate the problem.
Big Horn National Forest Forester Chris Thomas says that fighting the bugs in developed areas is tough enough, but throw in the possibility of the beetle spreading to wilderness areas, and it's a recipe for a major problem.
Thomas says that one area that he's keeping close tabs on is what is known as the “Fallen City” west of Dayton.
One reason that the outbreak hasn't hit the Big Horns as hard as other areas, is the abundance of moisture that we've had the past several years. Bark beetles feed on weak and distressed trees, which can stem from a number of things, including drought, disease, and nearby construction.
In a related note, U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis grilled Obama Administration officials Thursday over its opposition to her bill, H.R. 5192, the Forest Ecosystem Recovery and Protection Act. During a Subcommittee hearing on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, Lummis said she stands ready to work with anyone – Republican or Democrat – to modify this bill, or craft a new one that will set us on the path to forest ecosystem recovery and protection. Lummis added that sadly, the Obama Administration is not interested in collaboration.