- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Ending nearly a decade of work, U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Dan Jiron has enacted a new, long-term management plan for the nation’s first national forest.

Jiron signed the record of decision for the Shoshone National Forest’s Land Management Plan at a ceremony Wednesday in Gov. Matt Mead’s office.

The Forest Service, the state of Wyoming, local governments, American Indian tribes, interest groups and the public all had a hand in developing the new plan, which replaces a management plan that dated back to 1986.

The 2.4-million-acre Shoshone Forest borders the eastern side of Yellowstone National Park in northwest Wyoming. It became the first national forest by an act of Congress in 1891.

Lisa McGee, program director for the Wyoming Outdoor Council, said the plan by and large protects the forest’s wilderness.

“Some have mused that if Teddy Roosevelt were to explore the Shoshone today, it would look very much the same to him as it did when he visited in the late 19th century,” McGee said in a statement. “This is a testament to an engaged public that advocated passionately that the Shoshone be managed to retain the wild characteristics that set it apart from other forests.”

According to the Forest Service, the new management plan does not designate any more wilderness area within the forest, but it does preserve its existing backcountry character.

In addition, crucial big game winter range habitat is maintained, and grizzly bear conservation efforts have been included.

Livestock grazing will be maintained at current levels. Some areas will remain open to potential oil and gas development while key wildlife areas will be closed to drilling.

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