Parts of KOTA Territory struggle to contain a pine beetle outbreak that threatens the Black Hills. But even though another area forest is almost entirely pine, it's avoided the beetle plague.
"Most of our forest is pine forest, but ... we have the lodgepole pine," said Big Horn National Forest forester Chris Thomas.
The type of pine might not seem too important, but pine beetles are kind of picky. They favor pines more common to areas like the Black Hills.
"They're looking at ponderosa pine," Thomas said. "And the mountain pine beetle has really hit the ponderosa pine over there."
Ponderosas tend to grow at lower elevations.
Since most of the Big Horns are higher up, lodgepoles are more prevalent, and beetles aren't.
Basically it comes down to food. Beetles prefer ponderosa pines because there's so much more thick bark for them to eat.
But Thomas worries about what happens when they're not given a choice.
"If they're hungry enough, they're going to eat whatever they can," he said, including the lodgepoles.
That could be bad news for anything living in the forest.
"This part of Wyoming has been very lucky not to have experienced the damage they're having in other parts of the state," said Warren Mischke, information specialist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
With the damage to the forest, Mischke said, comes damage to the whole ecosystem. Animals can't survive, and increased erosion destroys waterways.
"We're just really monitoring the situation and watching what's happening to those other places to see how it would affect the area around here," he said.
Which is pretty much the only option.
"A lot of this is going on that face where it's really steep," said Thomas, "and there really isn't much we can do other than keep an eye on it"
The only real tool foresters have to battle the infestation is the weather: Early or late frosts can kill off beetles like it has in past years.