2 Utah forests are merging

Uinta and Wasatch-Cache will share a name, management

Published: Friday, Sept. 14 2007 12:16 a.m. MDT

PROVO — A consolidation process has started that would result in Uinta and Wasatch-Cache national forests sharing a name and management.

"What we're looking for is trying to be efficient between our offices," said Faye Krueger, forest supervisor of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, itself once two separate forests that were combined in the 1970s. "Our supervisor offices are about 40 miles apart."

The goal, Krueger said, is to save $2 million over the next three years.

The Wasatch-Cache National Forest, with headquarters in Salt Lake City, spans almost 2 million acres — from the Idaho border through Salt Lake County to the south, and Mountain View, Wyo., to the east.

The Uinta National Forest, headquartered in Provo, covers 987,000 acres from Point of the Mountain in the north to Spanish Fork in the south and Heber City to the east.

"Our budgets have been stable, but they're not projected to increase at all," said Loyal Clark, spokeswoman for the Uinta National Forest. "So all the costs associated with managing the forests, with the campgrounds, roads and trials, and paying our employees and everything will lead to that situation (of consolidation)."

The leadership staffs of both forests will probably be combined, but the Salt Lake City and Provo offices won't close.

The ranger district offices that manage day-to-day activity in the forests such as permits, timber sales and recreation are likely to stay intact, except for offices in Heber City, which is part of the Uinta forest, and Kamas, part of the Wasatch forest.

The Heber and Kamas ranger district offices are only 15 miles apart and will likely be combined, Krueger said.

"As people move on or retire, that sort of thing, we would look at basically not filling positions behind people," Krueger said. "We would look at being more efficient and saving money through reorganizing jobs through attribution."

"We've already had some vacancies we haven't filled, so we've already started it," she added.

Some of the decisions will have to be OK'd by the Forest Service in Washington, D.C., including the name change, which Krueger said "is a few years out."

How will the consolidation affect the average Utahn?

"We may have fewer services to provide, fewer garbage bags," Clark said. "We may not stock as many brochures."

Krueger said there may actually be more seasonal employees on the ground.

"As we look for savings with other positions, we could have a few more seasonal in the years to come," she said.


E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com

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