The Salt Lake Tribune has this story on “a landscape-level program of salvage logging, thinning, prescribed burns and reseeding in a 171,000-acre project area along the crest of the Wasatch Plateau.”
Since 2000, bark-boring beetles have killed nearly 90% of the Engelmann spruce on the plateau separating Sanpete and Emery counties, according to Ryan Nehl, supervisor of the Manti-La Sal National Forest. Other areas have become overrun with subalpine fir, crowding out aspen.
Currently spruce occupies 5% of this forest, while fir makes up 85%. The Forest Service’s goal is get that species mix to the 60%-30% range favoring spruce, but it could take decades. Nehl also wants to see aspen stands revitalized because of their importance to watershed health and wildlife and their ability to slow big fires.
“While this project is couched as a timber sale, it’s primarily a hazardous fuels-reduction project to try to stem the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire. It’s overstocked right now,” Nehl said. “Another primary purpose of this is to reduce risk to communities and firefighters, particularly culinary and irrigation water supplies, as well as water supply to the [Huntington Power] Plant.”
Here’s the Canyons HFRA Project Environmental Assessment FONSI.
The Forest Service proposes to salvage dense dead standing and down Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) and implement fuel reduction treatments under the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA). These actions are proposed to be implemented on the Ferron-Price and Sanpete Ranger Districts, Manti-La Sal National Forest, in Sanpete, Carbon, Emery, and Sevier Counties, Utah (Figure 2). The project area where treatments are being considered is approximately 171,000 acres.