BLM Utah Wetlands and Riparian
The primary objective of the BLM Utah Riparian Program is to provide properly functioning riparian areas for all public lands administered by the BLM in the State of Utah. Utah BLM administered land is less than 1% riparian or wetland (215,840 of 22,142,000 acres). These small, but unique areas are among the most important, productive, and diverse ecosystems in the state. The health of these BLM Utah lands is critical for the survival of seven federal endangered or threatened aquatic species and eleven BLM sensitive aquatic species. The highest priority for the BLM Utah Riparian Program is to maintain or improve the condition and functionality of the public land riparian-wetland areas.
Prior to 2015, most of Utah's riparian habitat maps describing extent, condition, and recovery potential were lacking. The BLM Utah Riparian Program partnered with Utah State University and the Utah Department of Natural Resources to develop the Riparian Condition Assessment Tool (RCAT), which is a riparian area (valley bottom) mapping, condition assessment, and recovery potential tool intended to help researchers and managers assess riparian condition and recovery potential over large regions and watersheds. The RCAT information was developed and is utilized for:
- Identification of statewide riparian health (condition)
- Identification of critical habitat for the majority of Utah's wildlife
- Provides accurate and comprehensive riparian zone mapping and assessment for effective and efficient wildlife management
- Identification of riparian habitat extent and condition can be used to strategically prioritize conservation and restoration projects
- Identification of riparian recovery potential maps can help prioritize restoration sites and can help develop realistic restoration goals
The BLM Utah Riparian Program is working with the National Aquatic Monitoring Center to implement an aquatic monitoring strategy (AIM) for BLM Utah waters and associated riparian areas. This includes inventory and monitoring a suite of biological and physical attributes, processes and functions of riparian and aquatic systems to determine if they are being degraded, maintained, or restored as a result of land management activities. Recently collected Aquatic AIM data will be analyzed to address the condition of and recommended management of BLM UT aquatic systems.
Another priority is to improve the health and productivity of public lands through investing in wildlife habitat, watershed and riparian area restoration, and enhancing partnerships to create healthier landscapes. The BLM Utah Riparian Program partners with groups (Escalante River Watershed Partnership, Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative, Southeastern UT Riparian Partnership, Dolores River Partnership, etc.) that focus on a diversity of riparian area restoration projects. These riparian restoration projects provide ideal opportunities for youth groups or volunteers to make a difference on public lands.