Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Protecting Utah's Forested Watersheds

The Left Hand and Right Hand forks of the Bear River converge in the High Uintas in Utah. Photo: Roger Arave, Deseret News. 
In an editorial by Nat Frazier, Professor at the College of Natural Resources at Utah State University and Tom Martin, CEO of the American Forest Foundation, they discuss how Utah's Catastrophic Wildfire Reduction Strategy (CatFire) is making a difference in reducing the risk of wildfire across boundaries to protect lands and watersheds across the state. 

CatFire is an example of Utah's state government taking a leadership position on protecting public and private lands from catastrophic wildfires. In Utah, forests are weakened by a decade of beetle infestation and two years of drought. Factor in recent wildfires and Utahns are vulnerable to losing vital forest watersheds. More importantly, they are at risk of losing the clean water that comes from them. 

Frazier and Martin go on to discuss the private and public patchwork of land ownership in Utah. Forty-seven percent of the key watersheds there are owned by private and family landowners. This is why, they contend, the three-year-old CatFire program is so important. 

This year, the Legislature provided $1 million for the CatFire program. This state funding works in conjunction with additional federal pass-through dollars to fund projects that reduce the risk of fire on both public and private lands, including important watersheds. Read full editorial here

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