The Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands collaborated with numerous partner agencies, organizations, and numerous stakeholders to develop the Utah Statewide Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy Guide. This Forest Action Plan provides a comprehensive analysis of the forest-related conditions, trends, threats and opportunities within Utah and will be used to guide the Division’s planning efforts and project work. The goal is to ensure resources are being focused on important landscape areas with the greatest opportunity to address shared management priorities and achieve meaningful outcomes.
The Utah Forest Action Plan concentrated on eight key themes that included Fire Risk, Forests, Wildlife Action Plan, Water Quality, Riparian Areas, Forest Health, Distance to Managed Lands, and Urban and Community Forestry. These eight themes utilized 20 data layers to conduct the analysis and identify those areas of important forest resources for project work. Sage Grouse Management Areas and ground-truthed priority watersheds were later added.
Conserving working forests and sustainable ecosystems
Forest Health: Fire, insects, disease and weeds all act as important disturbance agents in Utah forest ecosystems. Fire suppression has altered the occurrence, severity and intensity of fire. This may have contributed to increased insect and disease activity in certain forest types. Noxious and invasive weeds in Utah are spreading at an alarming rate, displacing native species and disrupting the normal function of ecosystems.
Protecting forests from wildfire, pests, and invasive species
Urban & Community Forestry: The current population of Utah is estimated at 2.8 million and is projected to rise to 3.7 million by 2020. This rapid growth, over twice the national average, made Utah the second fastest growing state in 2008-2009. It is estimated that 32,000 new homes will need to be built every year to accommodate the growing population. This concentration and growth of population is leading to compact cities and towns with inadequate green space and low numbers of urban trees.
Enhancing urban forests and livable communities
Fire Risk: Utah’s landscapes have become dependent upon fire to maintain the health and vigor of the many ecosystems within the state. With the advent of fire suppression, many of the ecosystems have departed from pre-suppression conditions. As a result, when fires occur they are often more damaging to ecosystems and have a greater impact on communities.
Utah Department of Natural Resources
1594 West North Temple, Suite 3520
Salt Lake City, UT 84116-3154
Brian L. Cottam, State Forester