Next week Utah State University hosts its 13th Annual “Restoring the West” Conference that focuses on the many government agencies who are required by law to manage public lands to achieve sustained yields of multiple uses.
Megan Dettenmaier is a professor of Wildlife Resources and a member of the conference committee who says each year there is a theme.
“That’s summed up in our conference name, Restoring the West,” Dettenmaier explained. “Last year we talked about tools, what’s working and what’s not. The year before that I believe we talked about fire.
“So we cycle with what’s on people’s radar. But we’re always looking to restore these landscapes to their best possible state and when we do that we are fulfilling the theme and the mission of our conference.”
At this conference researchers and managers will share ideas on issues ranging from solar energy on public lands in Nevada to illegal marijuana farms and their impacts to public lands in California.
“It’s a very dangerous thing that is happening,” said Dettenmaier. “People are coming in and using our forest service land to clear the trees out and they are growing marijuana in the middle of the forest, and people didn’t realize this was happening until we had wildlife biologists who were out there tracking mammals and birds and they would happen upon these giant marijuana farms.
“It might not seem like that big of a deal but they’re putting poison on the forest and on the weeds and they’re poisoning the wildlife so the wildlife don’t disturb the marijuana farms.”
The two-day conference is Tuesday and Wednesday, October 16-17. More information is found at restoringthewest.org.