42,000 Seedlings Planted in Cache, Weber, and Duchesne Counties
Utah foresters, landowners, resort employees, and a state contractor planted 42,100 seedlings over the past week in Cache, Weber, and Duchesne counties. All locations are sites of multi-year reforestation and rehabilitation projects and represent three different forest management issues: fuels reduction, infestation, and wildfire.
These small seedlings are a big part of proactive forest management projects designed to protect Utah’s forests from catastrophic wildfire and infestation. These projects demonstrate how state agencies can share and streamline resources, including seed harvesting and banking, labor, volunteer recruitment, and equipment and seedling procurement. These interagency teams collaborate with the private sector to protect Utah’s forests, private property, and public safety.
Foresters with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands (FFSL) and the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) coordinated three tree plantings following a timber harvest project on Beaver Mountain, insect infestation at Powder Mountain, and the Dollar Ridge fire located south of Fruitland.
On Beaver Mountain in Cache County, FFSL and SITLA foresters worked alongside a private contractor to plant 11,000 lodgepole and ponderosa pine, and some blue spruce seedlings. The area is the site of an earlier tree harvesting project.
Tree harvesting provides a disturbance effect these forests might normally experience through natural wildfire and prevent catastrophic wildfires seen throughout the West. Forests rely on disturbances to be healthy and resilient to both fire and invasive insect threats. Catastrophic fire has been a strain on state and federal resources, and projects like these can reduce that burden.
At Powder Mountain Ski Resort, state foresters along with resort employees, planted 2,200 Douglas-fir and limber pine seedlings. The resort area forest has been steadily declining due to an insect (balsam woolly adelgid) infestation.
In Duchesne County, state foresters, a private contractor, and 63 area landowners planted 29,000 seedlings on Currant Creek Mountain. This site of the 2018 Dollar Ridge fire received a wider range of species including: Douglas-fir; ponderosa pine, limber pine, and lodgepole pine; blue spruce; and some bur oak.
“Timing for planting can be tricky. We have a small window in spring or fall,” said SITLA Forester Adam Robison. “We need everything to go as perfectly as possible, to ensure the greatest success.” Coordinating with the tree nursery and volunteers can be a challenge, but weather is the unknown factor.
SITLA manages approximately 3,000 acres in the Beaver Mountain area on behalf of Utah’s public education system. All proceeds generated from commercial leasing on trust lands are deposited into the $2.5 billion Permanent School Fund. Interest income generated from this fund is distributed annually to public schools.