Recently, my wife and I walked up the unimproved road just west of the Tie Flume on Sourdough Creek off US Highway 16 west of Buffalo. We were dismayed and disappointed to find that the Forest Service has cut down every single evergreen tree from 1 foot tall to 50 feet tall. Yes, every single pine tree along the valley floor west of the flume on both sides of the creek for 1.5 miles. The destroyed trees were left where they fell to create future fire control issues. This area is where so many of us from Johnson and Campbell counties go to cut Christmas trees each year. I called the person responsible for the decision to cut these trees in the Sheridan office of the Forest Service. While wildlife biologist Tracy Pinter was polite, she informed me that earlier this summer the Forest Service had firefighters in the area with no fires to fight so they asked them to go up Sourdough Creek and cut all these trees down. The purpose, as detailed by Ms. Pinter, was to allow more willows and aspens to grow in an effort to improve wildlife habitat. Later in the conversation she informed me that there are too many elk in the area and they are damaging the willows and aspens. I asked her if she had been up the creek since the trees had been cut and was informed she had not but she had plans to go look at it. It is too late to do anything but complain as all the damage has been done with hundreds of trees left to rot among the willows. However, it is not too late to stop this from happening in other drainages in the beautiful Bighorn Mountains.
Editor's note: Concerns about this project may directed to Traci Weaver, Powder River District Ranger, at 684-7806. The version of this letter as published in the Aug. 27 edition incorrectly identified the wrong forest service employee.