Thursday, August 29, 2002
Crossing into Idaho
Team North will finally leave Montana today & cross over the Continental Divide into the Targhee National Forest of Idaho. Timber cutting and grazing have been important activities on the Targhee for about a century. However, the importance of this resource also led to the first conservation movement, and the Yellowstone Timber Land Reserve, covering part of what is now the Targhee National Forest, was the seed that later became the National Forest system.
In the 1960s, a devastating bark beetle epidemic destroyed most of the old-growth lodgepole pine and Englemann spruce communities. Forest managers have spent nearly 40 years aggressively clearing deadwood (often as part of commercial salvage operations) and planting new trees. Their work is visible in many areas of the forest, but it will be a long time before the new forest becomes old again. The Targhee reforestation is a model for many other forests in this region, as drought-weakened trees throughout Idaho & other intermountain states fall prey to the bark beetles.