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BLM
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
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Rock Springs Field Office

Watersheds & Soils

waterfall

Management objectives for the watershed and soils in the Rock Springs Field Office are to stabilize and conserve soils, increase vegetative production, maintain or improve surface and groundwater quality, and protect, maintain or improve wetlands, floodplains and riparian areas.

Surface water quality is maintained and improved when it passes through healthy soils and vegetation communities. These areas act like a combination sponge and filter that slows water's overland flow and help retain soil on the land where it is an asset, as opposed to in the water, where high levels of soil can be a problem.

floodplain

Groundwater quality may also be maintained and improved by the filtering effects of soil and vegetation. The watershed/soils management program also protects groundwater quality by working to reduce cross contamination between different aquifers of different water qualities.

Wetlands, floodplains and riparian areas are key areas in maintaining and improving water quality. Here in the arid west, ten percent or less of our landscape could be considered riparian or wetland. Yet it is this small portion of the land that is the most productive. It provides the majority of the wildlife habitat and a good portion of the grazing for domestic livestock. Wetlands and riparian areas act like sponges that absorb then slowly release water over the course of the year. The plants that grow in these areas are especially adapted for the high water levels, and high water flow energies. These plants have strong roots that helps to hold the soil in place, their leaves and stems help to protect the soil surface during high flow events, such as intense storms and spring runoff. Maintaining healthy wetlands, floodplains, and riparian areas will help to assure both water quality and quantity for ourselves and our children's children.

Helathy stream

Vegetation is one of the most valuable assets in the watershed/soils management program's efforts to reduce erosion and maintain water quality. Plant leaves and stems help protect soil surface from raindrop impacts. Plant roots help hold the soil in place and create openings that allow water to soak in deeper.

Soils are some of our most valuable resources. They provide us with our food, filter water, and act as a sponge that slowly releases water throughout the year, allowing many of our streams to flow all year long. The watershed/soils management program works to conserve our soils by reducing accelerated erosion.

windblown dust

Watershed condition is an important factor in many activities such as livestock production, recreation and water filtration and storage to name a few. Some human activities such as mineral extraction or road building provide important benefits to society but can cause undesirable impacts. Improper grazing or vehicle use can cause excessive amounts of damage to watersheds.

Road dust
Many resources, such as livestock production, wildlife habitat, fisheries, and public water supplies are dependent upon healthy and productive watersheds and riparian areas. These interconnections are the program's greatest strengths because a benefit for one is a benefit for all.

Much of the watershed and soils program can be summarized as trying to Keep Water on the Land Longer.

Healthy uplands

Many of the tools used by the watershed/soils management program are available on the web. There are technical resources such as the National Riparian Service Team and the US Forest Service Stream Team. These sites have links to many other useful sources of technical information.

BLM uses standards set forth by the state in which they operate. In Wyoming, these standards are set by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

The Environmental Protection Agency helps to coordinate between the different states. Their web site also has many useful technical links that can help you gather data on your area or provide educational resources.