High Plains District in Casper, Wyoming hosted a summer crew from the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming during the summer of 2012. The District forester, Cindy Allen led the 9 person crew through a variety of forestry activities. The students learned the basics of forest inventory, silvicultural principles, forest ecosystems, wildlife and how to read a map. They followed this up with actual implementation of their newly learned forestry practices in lodgepole pine stands on Casper Mountain.
Aspen Stand Conversion at Mallo Camp in the Newcastle Field Office
To introduce more diversity for wildlife purposes and ecosystem/vegetative diversity in the the ponderosa pine-dominant landscape of the Black Hills, the Newcastle Field Office developed a silvicultural prescription and treated 26 acres to remove competing ponderosa pine and common juniper to re-establish an aspen meadow complex. After treatment in 2011, there were 1850 aspen stems per acre. Monitoring in 2012 shows an increase to 3,350 stems per acre. The goal is, after 3 to 5 years, to have an average of 5,000+ aspen stems per acre.
This project in the Kemmerer Field Office is for the maintenance and restoration of whitebark pine which is being heavily impacted by MPB and white pine blister rust. This 250 acre stand is the furthest south stand of whitebark pine east of the Great Basin. The area has been inventoried and white pine blister rust resistant "plus" trees have been identified. The silvicultural objectives are to remove MPB-infested trees and also to reduce the competition from sub-alpine fir so that existing whitebark pine can release and have a higher chance of survival.
Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) Mitigation in the Black Hills
The State of Wyoming has directed over $1,000,000 to Weed and Pest districts in Weston and Crook counties to mitigate MPB infestations on all lands within those counties. The counties have contracted "spotters" to identify pockets of MPB and contractors to remove those trees. The BLM is working with the counties, and BLM and county contractors have removed approximately 50 acres of infested patches on BLM lands in Weston County in 2011. The BLM has assisted in reducing contract costs by offering the MPB-infested trees for sale to the contractors for local economic benefit and to reduce the contracting costs to the counties. This year (2012), the contractors removed 300 tons of beetle-killed wood. This forest product went to two small mills in the area for making posts, poles, and pallets.
Protection of Old Growth Ponderosa Pine in the Black Hills
The Newcastle Field Office has some of the last old growth ponderosa pine in the Black Hills. The field office designed a project to protect this old growth from mountain pine beetle (MPB) infestation and wildfire disturbance by reducing the density of surrounding stands and using pheromones to repel MPB.