A major effort to protect our canyons, homes and property from devastating wildfires is about to get underway.
Several agencies including the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Salt Lake City Public Utilities, Summit County Public Lands and the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands will be working in Parleys Canyon to clear dead trees and brush to reduce the risk of wildfires.
It’s important work that will save lives.
With the prolonged drought and extreme heat, wildfire season is turning into more of a year-round challenge.
“In order to prevent the negative impacts from catastrophic wildfires, it’s important to manage the forest in a way where we have a resilient healthy forest,” said Bekee Hotze, of the Salt Lake Ranger District.
The fuel reduction projects at Parleys Canyon include cutting down trees over several hundred acres, piling them, and eventually burning them.
Hotze said it’s important to cut down dead trees that can hinder firefighting efforts. “It’s just not safe. We had a firefighter in this canyon fire a couple years ago that was hit by a tree. Luckily, he was OK,” she said.
These projects are also vital to protecting our drinking water. The watershed at Parleys Canyon supplies water to 360,000 people in the Salt Lake Valley.
“If a wildfire were to start in this canyon not only would it risk this watershed, but it could spread to other watersheds where we get our drinking water as well,” said Laura Briefer, director of Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities.
By conducting these fuel reduction projects, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says it’s actually a positive thing for wildlife.
“A lot of people have concerns about seeing heavy machinery on the landscape and cutting down trees,” said Robby Edgel, a habitat restoration biologist with DWR. “It can be alarming to people, but we want people to know that we have the best science behind us and a lot of on-the-ground experience.”
Visitors should keep in mind, with the heavy equipment around, to stay out of prohibited areas. Be sure to plan ahead as there will be some intermittent trailhead closures.