Why The Forest Service Does Prescribed Burns


By Julie Johansen

Kevin Albrecht of the Forest Service explained the prescribed burn on Trail Mountain above Orangeville during the Emery County Public Lands meeting on Tuesday. The fire began on Monday, June 4.

Nearly three hundred acres were burned the first day but the total acreage is expected to be nearly 17,000. Two helicopters are being used to ignite the fire, one to douse, but they all have a bucket attached to use for putting the fire out if needed.  Dipping tanks are also located near the burn if needed.

The purpose of the fire is to clear the conifers out of the canyons, which will allow for regrowth of the aspen, sage and grass in the area. This is called reforestation and is good for livestock grazing as well as wildlife habitat, according to Albrecht. This restores the forest to its original state. The trees left standing will be offered for sale after the fire.

Albrecht explained that the moisture index has to be right before burning begins. It also prevents the calamity of a devastating wildfire. The burning began on the north end to make a blackline. This will help prevent the spread of the fire to personal property and cabins in the Upper Joe’s Valley area. The road up Cottonwood Canyon above the mine to the Miller’s Flat Junction is closed for safety reasons while burning.

The Forest Service continues the timber sales on the Skyline, which includes approximately 35,000 acres. This is the biggest sale in Utah. The service is also allowing some permittees to enter the grazing units early this year to utilize the grass before it is gone due to the lack of moisture. Many of the springs are also dry or very low, making it necessary to make these changes.

Also at the meeting, it was reported that Fish and Wildlife officials are conducting several quagga muscle inspection stations in and around Lake Powell and other water areas. If boaters fail to stop or do not comply with the quagga muscle restrictions, the fines are steep, a total of $300 set by the courts. The hope is to protect the other waters in Utah. “The longer, the better,” was the quote used. Approximately 80% of boaters are complying, including a little more than 200 boats over Memorial Day weekend.

State pronghorn numbers are up and plans are online for public comments at this time.

The Department of Oil, Gas and Mining reports that management has changed at the Emery Bronco Mine. They have a lot of coal ready to market but have not secured contracts for this coal. Reclamation is continuing at the old Deer Creek Mine site and is under advisement at the Crandall Canyon Mine. The plan to preserve the present Miner’s Memorial but other reclamation will begin soon. A collaboration meeting will be hosted in Price on June 21. PacifiCrop will present at this meeting, explaining its recent reclamation at the Des Bee Dove Mine.

Jake Palma, BLM, explained the alternatives for the reclamation of the MK Tunnels. They are 1). Safeguard – getting rid of them, 2). Save 30 feet from entrance for viewing, 3). Leave site as it is with minor maintenance, 4). Take no action at all. Public comment can be made on lie at the BLM website. The Muddy Creek Wild Horse gather is still scheduled for this coming fall, but summer weather conditions and its effect on the herds will determine the gather.  They have received over 36,000 comments online.

Commissioners, Randy Johnson and Congressional Representatives mapped out the process happening to the Emery County Land Bill. It has been introduced and is now headed for hearings in committees. The outlook remains positive. This bill can be read in its entirety at HR5727-115th congress (2017-2018)-Emery County Public Lands Management Act of 2018-Congress. Gov. The map of this area can be viewed at emerycounty.com/public lands/maps/basemap.pdf. If there are areas of special concern, a word search can be done to find all the areas in the bill that address those concerns (i.e. grazing).

There will be no regular Public Lands meeting in July but a field trip is scheduled for July 10 to the timber harvest area on the North Skyline.

scroll to top