LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Forest Service (NFS) is sponsoring a survey of forest landowners in the Wildcat Hills (Banner, Morrill, and Scotts Bluff counties), Pine Ridge (Dawes, Sioux, and Sheridan counties), and the Niobrara Valley (Cherry, Keya Paha, Rock, and Brown counties) to understand their opinions towards forest management and sustainable timber harvest in reducing wildfire outbreaks.
The Wildcat Hills, Pine Ridge and Niobrara Valley forests are home to a significant timber resource, an estimated 350,000 acres. However, the increased density of trees and dry conditions have fueled unprecedented wildfires over the last 15 years. By increasing management, the threat of widespread forest fires is greatly reduced while preserving these iconic forests.
“Since 2006, over 130,000 acres of forest in western Nebraska were damaged by wildfire, and the trend is still moving upward,” said Forest Products Program Leader, Adam Smith. “If we want forests to stick around in these areas, management and harvest are critical part of the process. But we can’t do that without landowner insight, plain and simple.”
Partnering with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the surveys were mailed to forest owners in mid-July. Responses to the survey are completely anonymous, voluntary, and do not require or suggest the landowners take specific actions in managing their acres.
Survey results will allow the NFS to promote local wood industry job creation, forest harvest opportunities for landowners, and improve the health and sustainability of Nebraska’s western forests.