Color Country South Canyon Restoration

Background information. The South Canyon project area consists of 121,000 acres within the Upper Sevier River Watershed in southern Utah. This watershed is ranked as a high priority for restoration because of degraded riparian and upland vegetation and erosion, the presence of hazardous fuels placing communities at increased risk of wildfire, and degraded greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) habitat because of the expansion and infilling of pinyon and juniper. In particular, this project was designed to reestablish and maintain sagebrush semi-desert habitat, open travel corridors, and provide benefits to sage-grouse and mule deer within and immediately adjacent to the project area. Restoration ... Show More

Background information. The South Canyon project area consists of 121,000 acres within the Upper Sevier River Watershed in southern Utah. This watershed is ranked as a high priority for restoration because of degraded riparian and upland vegetation and erosion, the presence of hazardous fuels placing communities at increased risk of wildfire, and degraded greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) habitat because of the expansion and infilling of pinyon and juniper. In particular, this project was designed to reestablish and maintain sagebrush semi-desert habitat, open travel corridors, and provide benefits to sage-grouse and mule deer within and immediately adjacent to the project area.

Restoration in this area is ongoing; this case study focuses on restoration activities that occurred between 2009 and 2013. During this period, restoration was accomplished on 5,929 acres of public and private lands. The project was funded by a variety of private, State, and Federal cooperators, including the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Background information on the BLM Color Country South Canyon restoration project was obtained from Vicki Tyler, BLM Color Country District, written commun., 2015; and from the WRI Website at https://wri.utah.gov/wri/.
 
Economic impacts. Total expenditures for this project were $3,546,000 (2014 dollars), with an estimated 34 percent of these expenditures spent within the local economy (Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane, and Washington Counties in Utah). Local expenditures supported an estimated 14.7 job-years; $855,000 in labor income; $1,202,000 in value added; and $2,029,000 in economic output within the local economy. Many of the contractors that worked on the project are located outside of the local area. Including the impacts associated with all project expenditures, the South Canyon Restoration Project supported an estimated 59.8 job-years; $3,616,000 in labor income; $4,629,000 in value added; and $8,755,000 in economic output in the Western States economy. Show Less

Contact(s): Catherine M Cullinane Thomas, Christopher C Huber.

Overview

Project Period: 2010-2013

Location: Utah

Restoration Type: Sagebrush restoration,Watershed restoration,Sage-grouse habitat,Fuels reduction project

Lead Agency: Bureau of Land Management

Economic Impacts
Western States Economic Impacts (2014 dollars):

Total Project Expenditures: $3,546,000


Job-Years: 59.8 (16.9 per $1M)

Labor Income: $3,616,000 ($1.0M per $1M)

Value Added: $4,629,000 ($1.3M per $1M)

Economic Output: $8,755,000 ($2.5M per $1M)

Local Economic Impacts (2014 dollars):

Local Project Expenditures: $1,194,000

Percent of Project Expenditures Spent Locally: 34%

Local Job-Years: 14.7

Local Labor Income: $855,000

Local Value Added: $1,202,000

Local Economic Output: $2,029,000

Big Picture
Main Project: Color Country Sagebrush Steppe Restoration

Characterized by vast acres of sagebrush and pinyon-juniper clad foothills, the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Color Country District, located in southern Utah, is home to a variety of species, including greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), Utah prairie dog (Cynomys parvidens), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), antelope (Antilocapra americana), elk (Cervus elaphus), and wild horses (Equus ferus). These species depend on the sagebrush steppe ecosystem historically present in this region. Starting in the late 1800s with the Euroamerican settlement of the west, the sagebrush steppe ecosystem has been rapidly changing into woodlands of western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) and pinyon (Blank and others, 2008). This transition ... Show More

Characterized by vast acres of sagebrush and pinyon-juniper clad foothills, the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Color Country District, located in southern Utah, is home to a variety of species, including greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), Utah prairie dog (Cynomys parvidens), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), antelope (Antilocapra americana), elk (Cervus elaphus), and wild horses (Equus ferus). These species depend on the sagebrush steppe ecosystem historically present in this region. Starting in the late 1800s with the Euroamerican settlement of the west, the sagebrush steppe ecosystem has been rapidly changing into woodlands of western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) and pinyon (Blank and others, 2008). This transition from sagebrush and perennial grasses to a landscape dominated by trees have decreased the available habitat for sagebrush-dependent species such as sage-grouse and mule deer. The change to a wooded landscape has also dramatically increased fire risk, which further increases the risk of habitat loss, as well as human infrastructure loss.

The BLM and other Federal, State, and local government agencies; nongovernmental organizations; and many sportsmen and wildlife groups have teamed up to restore and manage priority ecosystems within Utah, the Colorado Plateau, and the Great Basin. Through Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative (WRI), these organizations are partnering to pool resources and to restore healthy landscapes at a watershed scale. Through multi-phase and multi-year large-scale vegetation treatments, WRI partners are providing better wildlife habitat, restoring critical watersheds, and reducing the risk of wildfire to urban communities. To date, WRI partners have restored more than 1.1 million acres in Utah.

To restore wildlife habitat and reduce fire risk, BLM is removing pinyon and juniper trees to open wildlife travel corridors and provide firebreaks. BLM is also managing for invasive species, and seeding perennial grasses, forbs, and shrubs to re-establish sagebrush steppe vegetation. The methods used to accomplish this work include a variety of management tools, such as hand thinning, mechanical treatments, prescribed fire, herbicide treatments, and aerial seeding. By removing encroaching trees and establishing desired understory vegetation, these restoration projects maintain and enhance the long-term resilience of restored landscapes.

The U.S. Geological Survey collected data on restoration activities and expenditures to estimate the economic activity supported by restoration activities on four priority restoration areas in the BLM Color Country District: South Canyon, Duncan Creek, South Beaver, and Upper Kanab Creek. Based on the economic impacts estimated for these four restoration projects, it is estimated that, on average, every $1 million spent on watershed restoration in Utah generates 17.4 job-years; $1,028,000 in labor income; $1,316,000 in value added; and $2,440,000 in economic output in the Western States economy. Between 2011 and 2014, BLM spent a total of $15,730,000 (an average of $3,932,500 per year) on similar watershed restoration projects in the Color Country District. Based on the estimated average impacts per $1 million for these types of restoration projects, BLM Color Country watershed restoration projects supported an estimated 68 job-years; $4,000,000 in labor income; $5,200,000 in value added; and $9,600,000 in economic output in the Western States economy each year.

It is important to note that the economic value of these restoration projects encompasses more than the economic activity generated through project expenditures. These restoration projects also provide substantial economic values through ecosystem services that directly and indirectly affect human welfare. These projects restore and maintain important habitat for mule deer, a popular big-game species, and thus enhance wildlife-based recreation opportunities in the region. Additionally, restored sagebrush habitat is critical for the conservation of the greater sage-grouse, a species of high conservation priority. The removal of pinyon and juniper trees from the landscape also significantly reduces fire risk, thus providing additional economic value by reducing the probability of fire along the wildland-urban interface.

Background information on the BLM Color Country restoration projects was obtained from Vicki Tyler, BLM Color Country District, written commun., 2015; and from the WRI Website at https://wri.utah.gov/wri/. Show Less

Realted Case Studies:
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Images
A Bullhog Removing Pinyon and Juniper Trees.jpg
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