Wyoming News Update

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Beartooth Pass closed due to snow and ice

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Department of Transportation closed the Beartooth Pass at the Montana-Wyoming state line early Monday morning.

The Wyoming side of the pass is completely closed to traffic from Long Lake to the state line because of snow and ice on the road.

On the Montana side of the pass, conditions were wet with snow falling on the top of the pass, according to the Transportation Department.

The Billings Gazette reports that there was no information available Monday afternoon on when the pass will re-open. The Beartooth Pass normally stays open through mid-October as weather allows.

Bighorn National Forest may change camping rules

BIGHORN NATIONAL FOREST, Wyo. (AP) — One does not have to drive far to notice the dozens of campers and RVs parked among the trees from a common Forest Service Road in the Bighorn Mountains. Dispersed camping is one of the most popular recreational activities in the Bighorn National Forest.

The Bighorn National Forest has a set of rules for dispersed camping, but those orders expire at the end of the year.

Forest officials are now grappling with the idea of simply renewing the orders for another five years, or changing the orders to address issues that are common with dispersed camping.

Forest officials are looking at overcrowding and lack of availability of campsites in popular areas. Many of the trailers found in the forest are left unoccupied.

Team studies fires this year in '88 Yellowstone burn areas

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Fire managers in Yellowstone National Park are curious to find out why wildfires are burning so actively this summer in areas that burned back in 1988.

The 1988 wildfires burned 36 percent of Yellowstone's 2.2 million acres. The park has seen wildfires every year since then, but fires that occurred in the 1988 fire scars have largely stayed in check.

But Yellowstone fire ecologist Becky Smith says fires this year are burning much more readily in the 1988 fire scars. One fire has burned about 60 square miles.

To help find out why, the park has called in a special federal team that studies fire behavior.

Smith says fire managers see it as a learning opportunity on how and when the 1988 fire scars will now burn.

Grizzlies seen 1st time in a century by Upper Big Hole River

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — State wildlife biologists are trying to figure out whether grizzly bears spotted this year in the Upper Big Hole River area for the first time in about a century came from Yellowstone or northern Montana.

Grizzly bear sightings have been confirmed on several occasions this summer in the Upper Big Hole River area — for the first time in about a century.

Kevin Frey of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks confirmed photographs and tracks seen this summer are of a grizzly bear. He tells the Montana Standard that it's hard to say whether it is one bear or multiple bears.

Officials say the grizzly bear presence in the Big Hole is a sign of their overall population recovery.

Jackson Hole earthquake underscores landslide worries

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Last month's 5.0-magnitude earthquake near Jackson raised worries of another natural disaster: It caused the West Broadway Landslide to lurch forward 1 millimeter.

Normally the slide moves half a millimeter each week.

Former Wyoming state geologist Wally Ulrich says that that had the quake occurred closer to town, or during a time of year with wetter conditions, the slide's movement could have been far more substantial.

With the world's largest volcanic caldera in Yellowstone and hundreds of faults throughout the valley, Jackson Hole is fairly active geologically.

The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports that the town is in the process of completing designs to stabilize the portion of the landslide on town-owned property, but work is not expected to begin until next spring.