Shoshone National Forest announces preliminary options for its new forest plan

CODY. Preliminary options for management of the Shoshone National Forest range from creating five new wilderness areas to none, and from no new road construction to some road building. Forest officials are outlining those scenarios in a series of meetings here and in Thermopolis, Dubois and Lander. Rest of the story in the Casper Star Tribune.

At the present, none of the options is the forest’s preferred alternative. Wyoming conservationists have been telling me that there has been a recent turn for the worse in the various elements of this national forest plan.The Shoshone National Forest was the very first national forest. In the 1880s, President Benjamin Harrison issued an executive order creating the Yellowstone Timber Reserve. Later it was renamed the Shoshone National Forest. The Shoshone has some of the wildest country in the Greater Yellowstone. There are a number of threats and folks who care about Yellowstone need to get involved.

The east-facing side of the Pinnacle Buttes in the DuNoir Special Management area which conservationists have long advocated adding to the Washakie Wilderness on the Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming

Photo by Ralph Maughan

Information on the Forest Plan and how you can get involved from the Shoshone National Forest.




  1. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Having just attended the Dubois meeting for the Shoshone NF plan revision, I can report that things are firming up, and I’m not quite sure that I like the direction of things. The Forest presented three options (since this isn’t happening under NEPA, per the new planning rule, we don’t have alternatives).

    The options center around wilderness and the fate of roadless areas. There are 751,674 acres of inventoried roadless areas in the Shoshone.

    In option 1, 125,574 acres are recommended for wilderness. These areas are the Trout Peak RA, Franc’s Peak RA, Wood River RA, the Dunoir Special Management Unit and the contiguous West, East, and South Dunoir RAs, and the High Lakes Wilderness Study Area.

    In option 2, only the Dunoir SMU itself is recommended for wilderness, at 28,887 acres.

    In option 3, no areas receive wilderness recommendation. The Dunoir would retain its Congressionally designated SMU status, granted in 1972 in the Washakie Wilderness Act.

    Of course, these would only be recommendations on wilderness to Congress. Given the anti-wilderness perspectives of Wyoming’s Congressional Delegation, we can say that the chances of any of these areas going into wilderness are slim and none.

    Even under the best option, the vast majority of inventoried roadless areas in the Forest get short shrift and are in danger of some form of development. The greatest threat is motorized recreation. The Forest planning team could not give clear assurances as to what would happen to the roadless areas that do not receive wilderness recommendation or designation. It mostly depends, I was told, on what happens with the 2001 Roadless Rule, which was recently reinstated by a California court. As all forest conservationists realize, the 2001 Roadless Rule is not exactly “writ” in stone. In short, all roadless areas in the Shoshone, except for the Dunoir, which has congressional protection as a SMU to be managed as wilderness, and perhaps the High Lakes Wilderness Study Area, are just a few years short of being opened to some form of development.

    As usual, the meeting was dominated by members of the Flat Earth Makes for Better Roads Society; there were only two conservationists in attendance, myself and Meredith Taylor of the Wyoming Outdoor Council. This has been the usual pattern in Dubois. Attendance of conservationists in Cody and Lander has been better.

    We are doing what we can for wilderness, but without a sea change, things are currenty looking pretty grim.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thanks for the update, Robert, and thanks for showing up. It looks like option no. one is the option to tell the Shoshone NF to support.

    There are some towns in Idaho where its best not to show up, although they are declining in number; but their are places like Pocatello where we always their sorry butts, event though the Blue Ribbon Coalition go started here.

  3. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    Thanks. My gut feel right now is that what we’re going to end up with in the final plan is a slightly modified option 2, with the Dunoir SMU and the High Lakes WSA recommended for wilderness.

    This would, in the absence of the 2001 Roadless Rule, open up for development the remaining roadless areas, which the local multiple users are working hard to achieve for logging “to improve forest health,” with the accompanying roads and following ATVs. I hope to attend the Government Coooperators Work Group meeting tomorrow in Lander to further scope out where things might be going.

    Locally, we’re in trouble from the standpoint of political influence over the process. I will commend the efforts of the Wyoming G&F Department, which is a member of the Gov’t Co-op Group, to ensure that wildlife habitat is protected by recognition of roadless areas. I don’t often get to praise G&F, but in this case, it is deserved. It is keeping to its 40 year old recommendation to put the Dunoir into wilderness.

    What is needed is a concerted effort in the Democratic Congress, with a Democratic President in 2 years, to protect roadless areas throughout the National Forest system, including the Forests of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. I will point out, as was pointed out last night, that the 2001 Roadless Rule, while prohibiting the construction of Forest system roads, does not prohibit the extension of ATV trails into roadless areas. This is a serious shortcoming of the 2001 Rule.

    In my view, as one who spends a lot of time on the Forest, that the biggest threat to the Forest is not logging, but the roads that accompany logging and the following motorized recreation. In the Shoshone, the ATVs are more invasive than pine beetles. I don’t think the economics of logging in the early 21st century supports a return to the large scale logging of the past, and as it is right now, the logging that is going on is more or less sustainable, focusing primarily on house logs, posts and poles, some sawtimber, and firewood–the latter being a subsistence use I depend upon to heat my cabin. A shift to massive logging would adversely affect the small-time operators severely, and they know it. However, there is nothing that prevents the rapid and massive increase in motorized recreation, unless gas goes to $10/gallon. Assuming things go as I predict, with the Forest Transportation Plan coming up in a year or two, we’re going to see tremendous pressure to expand ORV opportunities. This is the line in the sand for me.

    Just another ho-hum day in paradise.


  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think logging is going to be cut way back by the new Congress. Logging on all of the forests in the Greater Yellowstone has always been subsidized by the taxpayer, and savings are needed to pay for the occupation of Iraq.

    The Forest Service is going to need more and more money to fight the annual forest fires as the climate warms and the beetles kill more and more forest land.

    In addition, the mountain pine bark beetle kill of 30-million acres of forest in Canada is going to glut the timber market.

    It seems to me that the Shoshone roadless area most threatened by ATVs is the High Lakes. I have awful ruts in the tundra there.

  5. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I agree about the future of logging in the GYE.

    I’ve seen the damage done by ATVs in High Lakes but the fact is that the damage is serious in many “roadless areas” of the Shoshone, not to mention other areas. It’s particularly bad in the Wind River District where I live; the local Forest Service Law Enforcment Officer has told me that off road violations are worse in this District than anywhere else in the REGION. That’s extraordinary. This is one of the consequences of this being the most heavily logged District in the Shoshone.

    I’ve been studying the maps handed out last night and what I’m seeing is some creative redrawing of boundaries such that many illegal, user-pioneered ATV trails will be legitimized in the Forest Plan. This is my concern–that many illegal trails will be legitimized throughout the Forest. I’ve just now pointed this out to the Forest planner and hope to have an answer back.



Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan