The Bureau of Land Management is a contributor and supporter of Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative, which uses locally-driven projects to improve watershed health, biological diversity, and water quality. BLM Utah and the Utah Department of Natural Resources have entered into a new five-year financial cooperative agreement supporting the WRI. The BLM may contribute up to $75 million over the lifetime of this five-year agreement, according to a statement BLM Utah released.
In fiscal year 2019, the BLM contributed over $10 million to the partnership that resulted in treatment of nearly 93,000 acres of upland habitat, 2,369 acres of riverine and riparian habitat, and 162 miles of stream and river corridors. Projects range from improvements to rangeland, riparian and aquatic habitat, greater sage grouse and large game habitat to projects focused on hazardous fuels reduction, post-fire emergency stabilization and rehabilitation, and noxious and invasive weed reduction, according to BLM.
“The WRI is an important component of our wildfire fuels reduction efforts and wildlife habitat improvements across Utah,” said BLM Utah State Director Ed Roberson. “We are proud to be a part of such a meaningful and innovative partnership and thank the Utah Department of Natural Resources for their leadership. This five-year agreement is just one of the ways we work together to manage our nation’s natural resources.”
“The continued support of our partners is critical to the overall success of WRI. As Utah expands and our population increases, we have a growing obligation to manage, protect and restore watersheds throughout Utah,” said DNR Executive Director Brian Steed. “Our joint efforts are invaluable as they reduce catastrophic wildfire risks, increase water quality and yield, protect and rehabilitate vital habitats for many species, and provide economic benefits for local economies.”
“Utah’s WRI is improving habitat for mule deer and all wildlife at a landscape scale not seen anywhere in the western United States,” said Miles Moretti, the president and CEO of the Mule Deer Foundation. “The WRI is successful because of the partnership between federal and state agencies, private landowners and wildlife conservation groups all working toward a common goal, and that is high-quality habitat in our forests and rangelands.”