SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative, coordinated by the Utah Department of Natural Resources, recently announced $34 million in funding for a record 208 restoration and rehabilitation projects statewide, which will improve over 280,000 acres of land.
The projects are scheduled for the 2017 fiscal year.
While each project is unique, the initiatives are designed to restore damaged watersheds; improve water quality and yield; reduce catastrophic wildfires; restore watershed functions following wildfire; and increase habitat for wildlife populations and forage for sustainable agriculture.
The $34 million in funding for this year’s projects come from more than 100 state, federal and private sources, including the Utah Legislature, Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resources Conservation Services, U.S. Forest Service, sportsmen groups, private land owners, oil and gas companies, private foundations and public land grazers.
While there are more than 200 watershed restoration projects scheduled statewide, below is a brief summary of three projects from each region.
• Dry Basin, Box Elder County: Remove encroaching junipers and implementing strategic green stripping on 1,910 acres in order to protect sage grouse leking area.
• Pentz-Smith Morgan Valley, Morgan County: Reconstruct an irrigation diversion on the Weber River to achieve fish passage and vertically stabilize the river channel in proximity to a sewer line crossing under the Weber River.
• North slope of Uintas, Summit County: Three prescribed fires on the Evanston-Mountain View Ranger District of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest to regenerate aspen and improve wildlife habitat.
• Shiner Basin, Uintah County: Remove encroaching pinyon-juniper from 3,696 acres of Wyoming sagebrush habitat.
• White River, Uintah County: Cut down 174 acres of Russian olive and tamarisk and treat the stumps with herbicide.
• Monument Ridge, Uintah County: Treat 2,000 acres using a bullhog to remove hazardous fuels and improve habitat for sage grouse in the Book Cliffs.
• Salt Lake County: Control yellow starthistle with herbicide applications.
• Sheep Creek, Utah County: Improve the watershed conditions and mule deer winter range by reducing juniper density on 1,427 acres.
• Utah Lake: Treat 2,257 acres on the east side of Utah Lake to remove phragmites and other invasive vegetation.
• Dark Canyon Plateau, San Juan County: Treat 1,899 acres using a bullhog to thin pinyon and juniper.
• West Slope, Grand and San Juan counties: Reduce hazard fuels through mechanical thinning on 2,446 acres on the La Sal Mountains east of Moab.
• Courthouse Wash, Grand County: Continue riparian restoration efforts on 957 acres within the Courthouse Wash Watershed with the mechanical and manual removal of tamarisk and Russian olive, and herbicide applications.
• Hamlin Valley, Beaver and Iron counties: Remove pinyon and juniper from approximately 14,195 acres of BLM-managed lands in crucial grouse habitat.
• Paunsaugunt Plateau, Kane County: Aspen regeneration cuts on 59 acres. Repair Blubber Creek outflow to maintain 2 acres of potential boreal toad breeding habitat. Build three beaver dam analogues.
• Monument Peak, Garfield County: Prescribed burning of approximately 3,036 acres to improve wildlife habitat and promote aspen regeneration.
A statewide map of all Watershed Restoration Initiative projects can be found at watershed.utah.gov.