MANTI—The U.S. Forest service grazing allotments have been reduced by 10 percent this season because of the extreme drought this region is presently experiencing, said Johnny Collin, District Ranger for the Manti-La Sal National Forest in his report at the June 7 Sanpete County Commission meeting.
Ten percent translates to between five and 10 days, he said. “It’s a significant amount for them, even if it doesn’t sound like much. It’s just kind of where we are at with the drought right now.”
Most of the reductions, three out of 39 allotments, were based on the numbers of livestock, as opposed to the amount of time provided, he said.
In other news, the U.S. Forest Service continues to work on its updated 30-year Forest Plan. Collin expects that an environmental impact statement (EIS) will be ready in three to four months. The EIS will be based on information collected by the government office in August 2021.
The Forest Service has entered into a multi-year agreement with Snow College to treat noxious, invasive weeds around various projects that the organization has been working on. Noxious weeds are often non-native species that are harmful to the nat- ural habitat. The project has received significant funds that should last for several years, Collin said.
Other continuing projects that the Forest Service is funding include removal of excess brush. Last winter, it engaged in controlled burns in Ephraim Canyon. Presently the government agency has a 90- day national moratorium on prescribed fires because of the dryness of brush this summer.
However, they hope to pursue a prescribed burn around the New Canyon Reservoir this fall.
The South Manti Big Game Summer Range Restoration project is a project being funded by the Forest Service’s Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative. Presently the government agency is working in the 12- Mile drainage area to remove conifers, a type of tree that produces cones, such as pine trees, and is replacing them with forage better suited for native wildlife in the area.
“There will be some prescribed fires in areas that we can’t get to any other way, but it will mostly be mechanical and hand work,” Collin explained. “We’ll try to have some commercial [work], but it’s a lot of subalpine that is not the most economical product in the West. Especially around the landslide and along the water in that drainage, it will be hand work rather than mechanical.”
The Forest Service is also prepping a 2,000-acre sale south of Spring City near the Whispering Pines subdivision. What Collins referred to as the Brown timber sale will be included in the higher-elevation Canyons Project.
Last year 3,000 acres worth of timber sales were sold in exchange for 40,000 ccf (100 cubic feet or 748 gallons of water). This fall, the Forest Service plans to increase timber sales to 4,500 acres in exchange for 60,000 ccf.
The timber sale in Ephraim Canyon has already been sold. The buyer, who is from Parowan, has six years to remove the timber, but Collin said he is concerned the buyer will not start this year because of the high fuel prices.
“It’s a lot of wood, so we are hopeful that some work will get done this year,” Collin said.
In recreation, the Forest Service has installed a couple of miles of bike trails in Ephraim Canyon, a project they have done in conjunction with Sanpete County.
In addition, they are completing three new parking lots including one in Manti Canyon, one in New Canyon, and the third near Gooseberry Reservoir in the area where the snow plowing stops in winter.
Presently the Forest Service is looking for a new owner for the historic Great Basin Station, an old, renovated research facility in the Manti-La Sal National Forest on the edge of the Great Basin at 8,900 feet in elevation. The station, comprised of eight 1930s-style buildings, was previously utilized by Snow College.
Collin said that presently they are applying for funding through the Great American Outdoors Act to improve the 2-mile power line that serves the station.
“Right now it is a bit of a fire risk,” Collin said, so they are optimistic that they will qualify for the funding. The project will be done as a partnership between the Forest Service and the City of Ephraim.
Boulger Reservoir, located about 10 miles from Fairview, is going to be drained temporarily this summer related to some testing for a mine that is going to be started near there. The Forest Service will also be doing some dredging there.