BEAVER MOUNTAIN – The mountain got a facelift recently when foresters from the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands (FFSL), the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) and a private contractor planted 11,000 lodgepole and ponderosa pine, and some blue spruce seedlings recently on Beaver Mountain.
The planting was to reforest a site of an earlier tree harvesting project.
“It only took the group one day to plant that area,” said Deena Loyola, spokesman for the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. “I wanted to come up and see them plant that area and they were finished before I could get up there.”
In all, the interagency group and a state contractor planted over 42,000 seedlings not only at Beaver Mountain, but also at locations in Weber and Duchesne counties. The seedlings were also to help landowners and resorts with reforestation.
“All locations are sites of multi-year reforestation and rehabilitation projects and represent three different forest management issues: fuels reduction, infestation, and wildfire,” Loyola said. “These small seedlings are a big part of a proactive forest management plan designed to protect Utah’s forests from catastrophic wildfire and infestation.”
The projects also demonstrate how state agencies can share and streamline resources, including seed harvesting and banking, labor, volunteer recruitment, equipment use and seedling procurement.
“These interagency teams collaborate with the private sector to protect Utah’s forests, private property, and public safety,” she said. “Foresters saw an insect infestation at Powder Mountain, and the Dollar Ridge fire located south of Fruitland.”
Tree harvesting provides a disturbance effect these forests might normally experience through natural wildfire and prevent catastrophic wildfires seen throughout the West. Forests rely on disturbances to be healthy and resilient to both fire and invasive insect threats.
Catastrophic fire has been a strain on state and federal resources, and projects like these can reduce that burden.
At Powder Mountain Ski Resort, state foresters and resort employees planted 2,200 Douglas-fir and limber pine seedlings. The resort area forest has been steadily declining due to an insect (balsam woolly adelgid) infestation.
In Duchesne County, state foresters, a private contractor and 63 area landowners planted 29,000 seedlings on Currant Creek Mountain. This area, which was the site of the 2018 Dollar Ridge Fire, received a wider range of species including: Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine, limber pine, lodgepole pine, blue spruce, and some bur oak.
“Timing for planting can be tricky. We have a small window in spring or fall,” said SITLA Forester Adam Robison. “We need everything to go as perfectly as possible, to ensure the greatest success.”
Coordinating with the tree nursery, planting crews, and volunteers can be a challenge, but weather is the unknown factor. SITLA manages approximately 3,000 acres in the Beaver Mountain area on behalf of Utah’s public education system.
All proceeds generated from commercial leasing on trust lands, including Beaver Mountain Ski Resort, are deposited into the $2.5 billion Permanent School Fund. Interest income generated from this fund is distributed annually to public schools.