The fuels program at the Salt Lake Field Office (SLFO) has grown immensely over the past six years. The program is a top priority within the field office. The formation of the SLFO Fuels Interdisciplinary Team has increased the support, efficiency, and success of the program. The program is running smoothly and meeting the goals of the National Fire Plan, Healthy Forest Initiative, the Healthy Forest Restoration Act, and the newly established Healthy Lands Initiative.
The fuels program has concentrated its efforts on sagebrush steppe ecosystems where (1) pinyon-juniper woodlands have encroached to unhealthy levels and (2) where the sagebrush has become decadent and lacks a diverse understory. The other major effort is on restoration of historic salt desert shrub communities which have been eliminated as a result of the invasion of cheatgrass. This restoration effort is heavily employed in the protection of wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas as well.
Over 86 percent of Utah’s population resides within the boundaries of the SLFO. Most of the population occurs along the Wasatch Front but smaller communities are scattered throughout the SLFO boundaries. The BLM ownership within the boundary is scattered and checker-boarded, creating a greater opportunity for the wildland-urban interface to occur. With this in mind, the SLFO has gone to great lengths to work with communities at risk, communities of interest, and adjacent land and home owners. We have worked with many communities by conducting workshops and seminars to help them write Community Wildfire Protection Plans.
We have worked with several universities and research institutes on Joint Fire Science projects which has given us a close up look at new best science knowledge for better project planning and implementation.