Plan In Place To Begin Removing Dead Trees And Brush From Utah Forests
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – They’re tough to ignore.
If you’ve been to some of Utah’s forests, then you’ve probably noticed them.
Thousands upon thousands of dead trees.
It’s a big issue in Utah and it’s something Mary Farnsworth, the Forest Service’s Deputy Regional Forester for the Intermountain Region, has seen for herself.
“We need to remove some of that material,” she said during an interview Thursday night in the Forest Service’s Ogden office. “Quite honestly, we do want a little dead, that’s a natural process, but we don’t want this amount of dead. And when you have a beetle epidemic come through and change the landscape, we need to deal with that.”
Not only are those dead trees a risk for large catastrophic fires, as we saw during the Brian Head Fire two summers ago and other large wildfires last year, but those dead trees are also bad for the health of the forest.
“We know that when a catastrophic fire comes through, it really affects our water systems to our smaller communities, and even to the Salt Lake City water community as well,” said Farnsworth.
That’s why the Forest Service and the state of Utah are excited about a new partnership to get rid of some of those dead trees.
“It needs that work to be done,” said Farnsworth. “We’re not going to touch every acre, but we need to do some work to remove that standing dead because the wildfires move very swiftly in that material.”
Under a 4-year, $20-million agreement between the Federal Government and the State of Utah, work will begin next week to start removing some of that dead material.
“It is protection for communities from wildfire as well as watershed, water source protection,” said Brian Cottam, who is the Utah Forester.
Cottam says this “shared stewardship” agreement means the state and the Forest Service will now make joint decisions, planning, and the prioritization of projects.
“There are things that will happen now that have not happened before in Utah that really are groundbreaking,” said Cottam.
The first two forests to be worked on are the Uinta-Wasatch Cache and the Manti-LaSal National Forests.
“We want to get stuff done on the ground and that is the exciting part of this,” said Farnsworth.
In time, maybe those views of Utah’s forest will be a lot better than they are today.