By MATTHEW BROWN Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Biden administration has identified more than 175,000 square miles of old growth and mature forests on U.S. government lands.

Those older forests cover an area larger than California but are under threat by fires, insects, disease and other side-effects of climate change.

Administration officials say they plan a new rule to help protect the nation's woodlands.

Environmentalists hope that will mean new restrictions on logging.

Skeptics from the timber industry and in Congress want more focus on fighting wildfires by thinning forests.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, warned the administration's conservation efforts could “lock Americans out of the public lands” by putting areas off-limits to timber harvests and other uses.

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Native plants that do well in Wyoming gardens

Consider the Indian Paintbrush. This and other regional wild-flowers. For one thing, they don’t require fertilizers and require fewer pesticides since they have natural resilience to garden pests in the region, in turn promoting beneficial populations like butterflies and hummingbirds. They also require less water because they’ve adapted to rely on rainwater.

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