The U.N. environment agency has issued a preliminary permit to the United States Forest Service to clear “saturated” forest in northeastern Wyoming, an area where the agency has been seeking to clear and stabilize the land in the past two decades.
The permit for the area is in place until January 2021, and the forest management agency said the move is a necessary step to ensure the land does not further degrade the land’s natural and cultural value.
Doug Burgum said the state has no plans to move forward with any large-scale clearing of the forest, saying “this is just the beginning.”
Burgum was the lead author of the 2013 federal permit, which was issued to the Forest Service in January 2016 to clear the “saturation” area that covers about 15,000 acres, about an area larger than Connecticut.
The area in question has been a focus of intense lobbying by the United Forest Products Association, which has urged the U.C. Davis, Calif., office of the Forest Department to open a “sustainable forest” certification process.
The UFPA has said it is seeking to see the Forest Commission approve a certified forest management plan for the land.
Burgum’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.
The Forest Service and Wyoming Department of Conservation have been trying to persuade the UFPCA to help with the certification process since 2011.
The United Forest Product Association, based in Los Angeles, has lobbied against U.F.P. efforts to establish certification for forests under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The federal agency is responsible for the forest’s management and conservation.
The forest is part of the U-Haul region of the Upper Peninsula and covers about 40,000 square miles.
The agency has not said when it intends to begin clearing.
It said the Forest and Water Conservation Board, which reviews forest plans, will conduct a hearing on the proposed plan in December 2020.