U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert signed a Shared Stewardship agreement on May 22, 2019 that included a commitment to protect communities and watersheds by addressing the threat of catastrophic wildfire on National Forest System lands in Utah.
Tuesday, Secretary Perdue and Governor Herbert have agreed to implement specific actions under Utah’s Shared Stewardship agreement that will immediately begin to improve conditions on-the-ground.
As part of Utah’s Shared Stewardship agreement, an investment of up to $20 million dollars will be made over the next four years to address wildfire, threats to communities and protecting watersheds.
Specifically, under the umbrella of Shared Stewardship, the Forest Service and State of Utah have agreed to begin implementation of two priority projects this year. The Upper Provo River project, located on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, and the Canyons project, located on the Manti-La Sal National Forest, are landscape-scale forest restoration projects that are designed to address the problem of large unwanted fire in critical watersheds.
The Canyons Project aims to improve watershed health, including wildland urban interface and municipal watersheds, by removing hazardous fuels and reducing the probability of uncharacteristic wildfire through the removal of standing and downed dead Engelmann spruce.
“This agreement strengthens the already strong partnership between the Forest Service and the State of Utah,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Through Shared Stewardship, Utah and the Forest Service are working together to identify landscape-scale priorities and build capacity to improve forest conditions.”
“This influx of resources allows the state and USDA Forest Service to begin immediately to address the state’s most critical forest and watershed needs,” said Gov. Herbert. “By working collaboratively with our federal partners and under the Shared Stewardship agreement we can quickly respond to the most pressing issues faced by land managers.
First, the Forest Service will expedite project level environmental review that will enable the agency to efficiently complete additional restoration work in priority areas. Second, the State and Forest Service will increase fire prevention education and outreach in an effort to reduce the number of human caused fire starts. Third, The State and Forest Service will work to develop strategies to increase opportunities for small businesses in Utah.
The State’s Roadless Rule petition will remain pending while the State and Forest Service address the threat of unwanted fire to communities and watersheds through Shared Stewardship.