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Retiring Forester Says Wildfires Eating Up Budget



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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- The retiring chief of the U.S. Forest Service's Intermountain Region says the days of unrestricted cross-country travel on public lands are quickly coming to an end.

Jack Troyer will empty his desk Oct. 3 in Ogden, where he took charge of 32 million acres of national forests and grasslands in Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, California and Colorado.

His replacement, Harv Forsgren, now regional forester for the Southwestern Region in New Mexico, will take over in December.

Troyer, 60, is retiring as the Forest Service deals with growing conflicts on forest land and a buildup of forest debris blamed for causing more catastrophic wildfires.

"One of my greatest hopes is: We've got billions of tons of fuels out there, and we are a country that says we have an energy issue," said Troyer, who believes the forest debris could be turned into ethanol for transportation fuel.

Troyer grew up on a western Colorado peach farm and went to work for the Forest Service in 1960 as a hydrologist. He was district ranger in San Juan and White River national forests for nine years, worked on an interagency team in the Greater Yellowstone Area, and served terms as forest supervisor of the Chequameton and Nicolet national forests in Wisconsin.

In 1997, he moved to Ogden as deputy regional forester for the Intermountain Region, taking over as chief in 2002.

Troyer said 50 percent of his budget is being consumed by controlling wildfires, up from 13 percent in 1991. That has left less money for other programs, he said.

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Information from: Standard-Examiner

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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