BLM, Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative receives $2.6M

SALT LAKE CITY — The Wildland Fire Resilient Landscapes Program announced Friday the commitment of $2.6 million to complete four Southern Utah projects to restore landscapes, improve habitat and reduce hazardous fuels. The program by the Department of Interior granted the funds to the Bureau of Land Management and the Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative, coordinated by the Utah Department of Natural Resources.

The following areas submitted their proposals to the program and were approved to start the restoration and improvement projects:

  1. Hamlin Valley, north of Modena | 10,000-acre project to remove pinyon/juniper from the watershed and improve the area for sage-grouse habitat; it will also increase forage for grazing
  2. Parker Front, south of Greenwich | 3,174-acre project to improve sage-grouse, mule deer and elk winter habitat and install a 21,500-gallon capacity poly tank guzzler system
  3. South Canyon, south of Panguitch | 6,000-acre project to improve sage-grouse, mule deer, elk and pronghorn habitat and ranges; hazardous fuel reduction efforts will also occur near Hatch, Utah, by mulching hand thinning and seeding areas of pinyon/juniper
  4. Yellowjacket, north of Kanab | 3,200-acre project to improve winter mule deer habitat and reduce hazardous fuels near Cave Lake by mechanically mulching, and seeding areas of pinyon/juniper

“Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative has a significant number of projects ready to go. We can put the money to work immediately to improve our watersheds,” said Alan Clark, Department of Natural Resources watershed program director. “We’re committed to restoring and rehabilitating as many acres as possible, so we’re appreciative of the added resources, which will allow us to complete more projects than anticipated.”

The Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative is an effort to restore and improve watershed health in priority areas throughout Utah. It enhances and protects our present and future quality of life, improves water quality and quantity, reduces catastrophic wildfires, restores watersheds following wildfires and increases wildlife habitat and forage for sustainable agriculture, said a release by the Utah Department of Natural Resources.

In 2015, the initiative is scheduled to fund 113 projects statewide at a cost of about $17 million. Funds come from over 90 different state, federal and private partners, including the Utah Legislature, BLM, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Mule Deer Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife.

In 2014, with support of $3.95 million from the Utah Legislature, the initiative completed over 130 projects restoring 112,987 acres of uplands and 55 miles of stream and riparian areas. Since its inception in 2005, the initiative partners have completed over 1,340 projects and treated more than 1.15 million acres of habitat with an investment by all partners of over $130 million.

Submitted by Utah Department of Natural Resources

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