MOAB — A fire believed to have been sparked by fireworks has forced the closure of a portion of the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve.
The south portion of the preserve has been shut off due to public safety concerns, according to The Nature Conservancy and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
A trio of people camping in an area on the west side of town are believed to be responsible for the June 6-7 blaze, which burned an estimated 65 acres of vegetation at the preserve. The Nature Conservancy said a portion of the preserve's trail system, bridge and interpretative exhibits were damaged.
"We don't have an estimate yet," said Linda Whitham, the preserve's manager.
Late last week, the Colorado River jumped its bank and flooded up to 70 percent of the preserve, according to Whitham, preventing access to survey fire damage.
"All of the trails are covered in water," she said. "The flooding is actually a really good thing, though. It brings up all these wonderful alluvial soils and native seeds and helps with the establishment of Cottonwood trees."
The inundation of water also helps flush the soils of salinity, she said.
Whitham said she is hopeful that if there is a criminal conviction in the case, some type of community service will be ordered to help the preserve or adjacent private property owners.
She said The Nature Conservancy is also looking into getting grant money from the state Division of Forestry, Fire and Sovereign Lands to replace native vegetation lost in the blaze.
The Matheson preserve is 894 acres jointly managed by The Nature Conservancy and the state DWR to protect wildlife habitat. The preserve is open year round and is along the banks of the Colorado River.
— Amy Joi O'Donoghue
- LDS Church relationship with Boy Scouts in...
- LDS Church 're-evaluating' Scouting program...
- Profane and acclaimed: 'The Book of Mormon'...
- Wright Words: Younger sister is living...
- With Boston out, another Salt Lake Olympics...
- Living — or dying — with...
- Most Utahns oppose Supreme Court ruling on...
- Sandy mailman's plea for books gets worldwide...
- LDS Church relationship with Boy Scouts... 250
- LDS Church 're-evaluating' Scouting... 94
- Mike Lee plotting tricky maneuver to... 87
- Profane and acclaimed: 'The Book of... 66
- Most Utahns oppose Supreme Court ruling... 60
- Does secret southern Utah meeting mean... 52
- Lee takes on new strategy in fight... 43
- Is report on building prison in Draper... 35