Assessment of Utah's Agricultural Resources


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A 2012 assessment of Utah's agricultural resources in each county.

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Assessment of Utah's Agricultural Resources

  1. 1. January 2012UtahResourceAssessmentI n cl u d i n g as s e ss me n t su mma r i e s f r o m e a c h c ou n ty i n U ta h Conserving Natural Resources For Our Future
  2. 2. Resource Assessment DocumentSupport Recognition Utah Association of Conservation Districts Utah Department of Agriculture and Food Natural Resources Conservation ServiceUtah Conservation CommissionCommissioners: Utah Conservation Districts Zone Directors 1 through 7 (Governor Appointed) Utah Association of Conservation Districts Utah Department of Agriculture and Food Utah Department of Environmental Quality Utah Department of Natural Resources Utah Grazing Board (Chair and Vice-Chair) Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration Utah State University Extension Utah Weed Supervisor AssociationPartner Agencies: Bureau of Land Management U.S. Forest Service Natural Resources Conservation Service Farm Service Agency State Historical Preservation Office Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget
  3. 3. • Executive Summary ii General Resource Observations ∙ Priorities and Concerns• Introduction 1 Conservation History ∙ Public Outreach• Utah Overview 2 General Utah Data ∙ Land Ownership• Major Resource Concerns 4 Soil Erosion ∙ Soil Quality Degradation ∙ Excess/Insufficient Water ∙ Water Quality Degradation ∙ Degraded Plant Condition ∙ Inadequate Habitat for Fish & Wildlife ∙ Livestock Production Limitation ∙ Inefficient Energy Use ∙ Air Quality Impacts• County Resource Assessment Summary 22 Major Resource Concerns by County• Re f e r e n c e s & A p p e n d i c e s 53 State of Utah Resource Assessment i
  4. 4. Executive Summary General Resource Observations Natural resources are categorized as Soil, Water, Air, Plants, Animals, and Humans (SWAPA + H). This assessment describes the general condition of these resources and highlights additional concerns in each category. By evaluating natural resources individu- ally, resource improvement projects can be implemented to improve resource health. The following categories are used to evaluate individual resource concerns: Soil Erosion Soil Quality Degradation Excess and Insufficient Water Water Quality Degradation Degraded Plant Condition Inadequate Habitat for Fish and Wildlife Livestock Production Limitation Inefficient Energy Use Air Quality Impacts Natural Resource Priorities and Concerns Each Conservation District in Utah has identified the top natural resource priorities and concerns in their respective conservation district and county. These priorities receive special emphasis. State and federal conservation agencies coordinate with the local conservation districts on improving the resource health. Within each county, the top resource concerns have been identified. Details of each concern can be found in the individual county reports at Noxious and Invasive weeds have been identified as a major concern in all areas of Utah. Weeds reduce forage on both public and private lands that are used to feed livestock. Health of uplands range along with the riparian areas along rivers and stream are valuable resources. Competing uses of our natural resources also becomes a challenge in the management of resource health and erosion issues as shared interest for recreation and hunting continue to add pressure on the landscape. Conservation of water resources and water quality ranks very high in the importance of Utah’s natural resources. Our arid climate makes the water we have even more valuable to sustain crop production. Aging irrigation infrastructure along with narrow profit margins increase the problems with agriculture sustain- ability. Every acre of farmable land is precious. The pressure of development continually increases the encouragement of land to be sold and used for housing and business. Utah’s fruit and vegetable market sectors continue to lose valuable acres of prime and unique soil to development. Areas high at risk for development have climatic conditions that support vege- table and fruit production. Increased development increases the demand for transportation infrastructure. With a growing population and less land to raise agri- cultural products, more of our food is being transported from outside sources and from further distances. Local food market demand is growing, creating the need to expand the capacity to develop additional food producing opportunities for both large scale and urban farming needs.ii
  5. 5. IntroductionThe Conservation District Movement Natural resource concerns were prioritized. Conservation districts convened at aThe Dust Bowl of the 1930s brought the beginning of national programs county level to develop priority county resource concerns.for conserving soil and water resources in the United States. On April 27, The 2012 Utah Resource Assessment takes combined county data of top concerns1935, Congress declared soil erosion “a national menace” and established and provide qualitative analysis. This data is used to guide financial resources tothe Soil Erosion Service. Since then, the agency was changed to the Nat- the areas of most critical need. Each county was represented. Complete as of Jan-ural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). In May of 1936 farmers uary 2012, county reports are being completed and can be found atwere allowed to set up their own districts to direct soil conservation prac- Today, Utah has 38 conservation districts located in all 29 counties.Each conservation district has statutory authority and responsibility to Noxious Weeds in Utahassess and recommend practices for natural resource health. Noxious weeds are the number one natural resource concern of the State of Utah. Every area of the state noted weeds as an issue throughout the county localConservation Progress workgroups and rated them the number one priority in each county.Since the organization of conservation districts in Utah, great strides havebeen made toward increasing and sustaining natural resources in Utah. Noxious weeds on the official State of Utah list are divided into Class A, Class B,The 2005 resource assessment listed the most critical resource concerns and Class C weeds. Class A weeds are considered a very high priority for controlas 1) water quantity and quality, 2) grazing lands, 3) noxious weeds, and and pose a serious threat to the state. Eradication is the goal for Class A weeds.4) wildlife habitat. The 2011 resource assessment provides an opportuni- Class B weeds are also considered a high priority for control. Class C weeds posety to evaluate the progress made during the last seven years and to set a threat to the agricultural industry and agriculturalnew goals to address the highest conservation priorities. While water Class A products. The focus related to Class C weeds is to stopquality is still as important to work on as it was in 2005, noxious and expansion (containment).invasive weeds have been identified as the highest priority in 2011. Black Henbane Class BPublic Outreach Diffuse KnapweedLocally-led conservation includes public outreach campaigns to gather Bermudagrassdata at the grassroots level. For example, in July 2010, the Rich County Leafy SpurgeConservation District conducted a survey to find out how local citizens Perennial Pepperweed Medusaheadview the county’s natural resources and what conservation issues weremost pressing. Respondents indicated that water quantity and quality are Oxeye Daisy Dalmation Toadflaxstill major concerns as well as properly managing grazing land to im- Perennial Sorghum Dyers Woad Class Cprove natural resource health and to maintain a sustainable agriculturalindustry. Other top concerns included: weeds, particularly perennial pep- Purple Loosestrife Hoary Cressper weed and dyer’s woad; irrigation canal improvements and mainte- Field Bindweednance; protecting sage-grouse habitat; and maintaining current levels of Spotted Knapweed Musk Thistle Canada Thistlerecreational opportunities in Rich County. St. John’s Wort Poison Hemlock HoundstoungeCounty Resource Assessment Process Sulfur Cinquefoil Russian KnapweedEach conservation district invited participants to share information. Par- Scotch Thistle Saltcedar Yellow Starthistleticipants included landowners, public land management agencies, localpolitical leaders, and state and federal natural resource professionals Yellow Toadflax Squarrose Knapweed Quackgrass State of Utah Resource Assessment 1
  6. 6. State Overview Located in the Rocky Mountain Region, Utah derives its name from the Native American Ute tribe and means “people of the mountains”. Utah has 84,900 square miles and is ranked the 11th largest state (in terms of square miles) in the US. As hosts of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Utah boasts the “greatest snow on earth” and is the home of 18 colorful National Parks and monuments. Utah’s peaks are, on average, some of the tallest in the country and create great contrasts that range from the snow covered peaks of the Uinta Range in the east, to the renowned natural and colorful rock formations of the deserts in the south. The geography is characterized throughout the 29 counties by three major eco-regions: Rocky Mountain, Basin and Range, and Colorado Plateau. The Rocky Mountain area is characterized by the Wasatch and Uintah mountain ranges. The Wasatch Range stretches from Sanpete County north to Idaho. The Uintah range is the only east-west oriented range in the Rockies and contains the state’s highest elevation (Kings Peak at 13,528 feet above sea level). The Basin and Range area is located in western Utah and contains some of the driest areas of the US, including the Bonneville Salt Flats west of the Great Salt Lake. This province is typically identified by valleys and small mountain ranges. “Utah’s Dixie,” also known as the St. George area, is in this part of the state. It has the lowest elevation (2350’ at Beaver Dam Wash) and is also the warmest part of Utah. The Colorado Plateau covers most of the southern and eastern areas of Utah and is marked by high upland country cut by deep canyons and valleys. The west- ern part includes plateaus rising to 11,000 feet, such as Aquarius, Markagunt, Cedar Breaks, and Fish Lake. Canyons include the national treasures of Bryce, Zion, and Canyonlands. The Colorado River and its tributaries drain the Colorado Plateau. Utah’s southeast corner is on the Plateau and is adjacent to the bor- ders of Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. This is the only place in the United States where four states meet and is known as the “Four Corners”. Utah is the second driest state and is very dependent on stored water for municipal, industrial, and agricultural applications. Despite the dry climate, Utah is ranked 26th in the nation in the amount of land being farmed (11,600,000 acres) and is 35 th in the number of farms. It is also one of the largest public lands States in the nation (40,436,282 acres). Agricultural land is targeted for urban devel- opment; data from the Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) indicates that 105,000 acres of cropland were converted to other uses, including development, from 1982 to 1997. In terms of production, beef and dairy cattle are the largest agricultural sectors in Utah. It is also the second largest producer in mink pelts in the US, third largest in apricots and tart cherries, sixth in sheep and sweet cherries, seventh in onions, and ninth in pears and farm-raised trout. Barley production ranks eleventh and alfalfa hay production ranks thirteenth. Poultry (especially turkeys), breeding hogs, peach- es, apples and dry beans are other major agricultural products. Utah agriculture gen- erates more than $1 billion in raw products annually, adding $368 million in net farm income for farmers and ranchers and helps fuel the state’s rural economy. The state is also known for its research and development work, especially in the are- as of health care and information technology. Construction, tourism, energy, and2
  7. 7. mineral extraction are other key focus areas of Utah’s economy.Utah’s population is estimated at 2.7 million people; it ranks 34 th inUnited States population size and has an estimated 21 persons persquare mile.The bulk of the population resides in what is known as the WasatchFront – a region that spans the entire western side of the WasatchMountains. The area begins in Provo, at the south end of the range,and ends about 100 miles north, in Brigham City. Salt Lake Countyhas the highest population, followed by the other Wasatch Front coun-ties of (in order of size) Utah, Davis, and Weber. Next in populationsize, where much of the current population growth is centered, is therapidly growing Washington County in southwest Utah. Garfield,Wayne, Rich, Piute, and Daggett have the lowest population, each withless than 5000 persons. The median household income is $18,815,compared to $21,587 nationally. Population growth ranks 7th national-ly, with natural in-state growth the prime component combined with in-migration. Utah ranks first in the nation in household size (3.13) andhas the lowest median age (27.1).The following tribal nations have reservation land within Utah borders:Confederate Tribes of the Goshute Indian Tribe, Navajo Nation, North-western Band of Shoshoni Tribe, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, SkullValley Band of Goshute Indians, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain UteTribe, and the White Mesa Ute Tribe.Many counties in Utah have a small percentage of private land due tothe vast tracts of federal, state, and reservation lands; 65% of Utah is infederal ownership. For example, 96% of Garfield County is in non-private ownership. This non-private ownership impacts developmentpressures to convert traditional agricultural land to urban uses, particu-larly second homes and recreational properties. The lack of privategrazing land closely links livestock operations to federal and state landmanagement policies and restrictions, and complicates long-term con-servation planning with intermingled leased land. State of Utah Resource Assessment 3
  8. 8. Major Resource Concerns S OIL E ROSION There are a vast number of factors that contribute to soil erosion concerns in Utah. Among these are the physical and chemical soil characteristics, topography and elevation changes, varied weather conditions and a dry climate, and limited plant growth and length of growing season. Soil erosion is categorized by sheet, rill, and wind erosion. Concentrated flows and storm events can intensify soil erosion with detachment and transport of soil particles. Ephemeral gully erosion is identified by small channels caused by surface water runoff which degrade soil quality and tend to increase in size, depending on soil characteristics and the length and slope of the landscape. Water and air quality are additional resource concerns connected with soil erosion. Sediment that enters rivers, streams, and lakes contribute to water quality degradation. Measuring Soil Erosion The measurement used to determine soil loss by erosion is calculated in tons/acre/year. Soil treatments and management practices are planned by determining the average annual tons of erosion which can be reduced per acre for the field or planning area/unit. The assessment tool for quality criteria evaluation is con- ducted through visual assessments using the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation calculation and the Utah Wind Erosion Equation. The universal soil loss equation is an erosion model designed to predict the long-term average soil losses in runoff from specific field areas in specified crop- ping and management systems. The National Resource Inventory calculations use location-specific data for the defined area of work in which the NRI sample point falls or that portion of the defined area surrounding the point that would be considered in conservation planning. The use of these and other planning tools are used to pinpoint areas of greatest concern and direct project work. Soil erosion can be best managed, and soil quality most effectively preserved, by examining these factors and implementing best management practices that maintain the integrity of soil quality. Sheet and Rill Erosion Sheet, rill, and gully erosion along the alluvial fans is excessively delivering sedi- ments, Nitrogen and Phosphorus to waterways. This erosion is also affecting the range health by reducing the water holding capacity of these fans and is one of the major causes of desertification and declining range health. Soil erosion from head cutting and irrigation laterals is contributing to soil loss. Soil quality is low in some areas due to naturally high salt content in some areas of Utah. Large storm events and spring runoff can cause tremendous stream bank ero- sion, sheet and rill erosion, and sediment deposits. Damage to properties, structures, crops, roads, and infrastructures cause insurmountable environmental and financial impacts for the citizens of Utah. River systems are vulnerable to future destabiliza- tion until re-vegetation takes place.4
  9. 9. Wind ErosionWinds are constant and strong in many of Utah’s valley locations. High wind conditions, coupled with soils susceptible to wind erosion, make this a constantconcern for the health and safety of humans, livestock, wildlife, and crops as well as the environmental stability of the state. High wind areas can become valu-able areas of alternative energy and are discussed in the energy section on page 18.Erosion and Land TypesStream bank erosion is of greatest concern on grazed rangeland, forests, and watershed protection areas, but is also of concern and an issue for all land uses.Sheet and rill erosion are also a concern in the above mentioned areas, and have a great impact to cropland. Wind erosion is of primary concern on cropland,hay and pasture land, air quality, and is scrutinized with greater emphasis than ever before.To better understand soil characteristics and factors affecting erosion, soil surveys have been conducted throughout Utah. This information can be accessed bygoing to the Web Soil Survey conducted by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. of Prime Soils to DevelopmentThe loss of “Prime Farmland Soils” is an increased concern. Prime farmland is land that has the best combination of physical and chemical characteristics forproducing food. While soil erosion in this case is not physical erosion due to natural causes, it is still soil loss due to land use changes. In general, prime farm-land soils have an adequate and dependable water supply from precipitation or irrigation, a favorable temperature and growing season, an acceptable level ofacidity or alkalinity, acceptable content of salt or sodium, and few or no rock. Other soils may be classified as unique and not prime due to the other importantfactors, such as the growing requirements for orchards that may be better suited in areas where soil may not be classified as prime, but have less susceptibilityto frost. Table 1: Sheet, Rill, and Wind Erosion There are only 11,520,584 acres of privately owned land in Utah. This is a (NRCS-GIS Inventory) very small percent of land mass in which we have for living and producing food for our population needs. Potential at risk Needing treatment Priority treatment (acres) (acres) (acres) Public lands grazing is a critical element of local food security and for main- taining ranching and rangeland soil health.Crop 112,448 80,276 46,496Range 1,851,437 1,728,015 94,742 Each acre of private land, and especially our most productive areas, are need- ed for crop production and to fill the local fruit and vegetable productionPasture 223,667 185,756 73,426 needs.Forest 80,244 76,429 4,871Other Ag. 25,187 22,782 9,206LandTOTAL 2,292,926 2,093,258 228,741 State of Utah Resource Assessment 5
  10. 10. Major Resource Concerns S OIL Q UALITY DEG RA DATION The condition of the soil is characterized by subsidence, compaction, organic matter depletion, and the concentration of salts or other chemicals. Organic mat- ter plays a significant role in maintaining soil quality. The concern occurs predominantly on cropland followed by pastureland, but conditions of the soils are critical in every soil type for managing optimum plant growth. Priority treatment areas will include soils identified to be susceptible to compaction or have been determined to have a low organic matter according to accepted testing or official soil survey data. The goal of conservation activities and projects are to improve the soil conditioning index. Planning goals include a positive improvement in the index for the field or planning area. Subsidence Subsidence is a soil condition described by the loss of volume and depth of organic soils due to oxidation caused by above-normal microbial activity resulting from excessive drainage or extended drought. The timing and regime of soil moisture is managed to attain acceptable subsidence rates. Indicators of range- land health use attribute rating for soil/site stability with the capacity to limit redistribution and loss of soil resources (including nutrient and organic matter) by wind and water. Compaction Soil compaction is a concern due to compressed soil particles and aggregates caused by mechanical compaction which adversely affect plant and soil mois- ture relationships. Throughout Utah agricultural lands are affected compaction. The promotion of minimum and no-till plant management practices has been recommended. Improved grazing management reduces soil compaction. There are 102,582 acres that have been identified as potential acres at risk in Utah for cropland and 78,253 acres identified as acres needing treatment. Potential at- risk acres in range are 480,627 acres with the majority of those acres needing treatment. Concentration of Salts or other Chemicals Inorganic chemical elements and compounds such as salts, selenium, boron, and heavy metals restrict the desired use of the land. The national quality crite- ria for contaminants such as salts or other chemicals examine Nitrogen nutri- ent application levels. It is the goal that levels do not exceed the soil buffering capacity. Electrical conductivity (EC) testing can detect levels of salts in the soil. Conservation practices will be applied that will control soil EC levels and other contaminants to acceptable levels for the intended land use. Certain areas of Utah, especially the Uintah Basin and along the eastern side of the state, experience high levels of salinity. Other areas of Utah also have salinity con- cerns but are more localized.6
  11. 11. Nutrient Management Table 2: Soil CompactionContaminants, including animal waste and other organics, are analyzed by test- (NRCS-GIS Inventory)ing the nutrient levels of Phosphorus and Nitrogen. Over application of thesenutrient levels from applied animal manure and other organics restrict desired Potential at risk Needing treatment Priority treatmentuse of the land. Phosphorus application levels should not exceed soil storage (acres) (acres) (acres)and plant uptake capabilities based on soil test recommendations and risk anal-ysis results. Potassium levels from applied animal manure can also restrict land 102,582 78,253 39,051 Cropapplication practices and should not exceed soil storage and plant uptake ca-pacities. Range 480,627 410,247 213,827Soil nutrient levels of nitrogen can affect pH levels in the soil and contribute to Pasture 398,186 334,395 202,258increased plant growth or reduce yield goals by appropriately maintaining Forest 7,444 6,507 1,926 proper levels in the soil profile. Over application of Other Ag. 56,687 53,815 32,107 phosphorus and potassium Land degrades plant health and TOTAL 1,045,526 883,217 489,169 vigor or exceeds the soil capacity to retain nutrients. Nutrients are measured in pounds/acre/year and should be tested regularly to assess nutrient levels in the soil and determine cropping needs. Residual pesticides in the soil have an adverse effect on non-target plants and animals. Pesticides should be applied, stored, handled, and disposed of so that residues do not adversely affect the environment as well. Organic Matter Depletion Soils are affected by climate and weather conditions. Low moisture levels limit plant growth and can cause excessive erosion of soils without vegetative cover and soils with low organic matter. Poor management practices of the 1920’s and 1930 created a poor soil condition, known as the Dust Bowl, that was devastating. As a result of the extensive damage caused during the Dust Bowl, soil conservation districts were created to oversee and manage land treatment practices. Conservation districts are located in each county in Utah to guide conservation practices and work to improve soil, water, and air quality measures throughout the state. State of Utah Resource Assessment 7
  12. 12. Major Resource Concerns E XCESS /I NS UF FICIENT W ATER Ponding, Flooding, Seasonal High Water Table, Seeps, and Drifted Snow Excess water due to ponding, flooding, seasonal high water table, seeps, and drifted snow are areas of concern. Excessive runoff, flooding, or ponding is a re- sult of land that becomes inundated, which restrict land use and management. Control and management have a large impact on excess water amounts and rates of flow. Keeping flows controlled and consistent with the desired present or intended land use should be developed and incorporated in management plans. The quality criterion indicates that excess water does not restrict a suitable use of the land, does not restrict operational activities, and does not restrict the rooting depth of desired crops. There should be no observable damages to land, crops, or structures resulting from overland flows. The capacity to capture, store, and safely release water from rainfall, run- off, and snow melt where relevant is an indicator of rangeland health. The Rangeland Health Evaluation Worksheet is an assessment tool for quality criteria evaluation. Excessive seepage due to subsurface water oozing to the surface restricts land use and management. When seepage is associated with steep slopes the saturation of the soil profile can cause mass soil movement. Excessive subsurface water often saturates the upper soil layers thus re- stricting land use. Subsurface water can be managed to limit periods of satu- ration compatible with the present or intended land use and wetland poli- cies. Visual assessments of soil cores and plant quality and quantity meas- urements are used as management tools. Snow levels and windblown snow deposits are identified concerns. Yearly snow accumulations and snow melt patterns have a large impact on crop- ping and rangeland vegetative cover. The SNOTEL website at managed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service is an important man- agement tool. The information gathered compares and provides accumulation totals and averages that are used for moisture management throughout the yearly growing season.8
  13. 13. Improvements of natural or constructed outlets can be too small or inadequately in- stalled to remove excess water in a timely manner. Outlets need to be designed, in- stalled, upgraded, or maintained to adequately convey water for the present or intended uses. Hydrologic modeling, engineering and/or historical flows are used to upgrade con- veyances. Inefficient Moisture Management Utah is the 2nd driest state in the nation. The inefficient use of water is a critical issue due to the limited water supplies. The inefficient use of irrigation water is a primary resource concern. This resource concern occurs on irrigated cropland, hayland, and pas- tureland. Roughly 50 percent of Utah irrigated lands are still irrigated with unimproved flood systems. Unimproved irrigation systems range from 25 to 50 percent efficient. Improved systems will bring efficiencies up to 60-85 percent. Inefficient Use of irrigation Water Land and water management should be planned and coordinated to provide optimal useof natural and applied moisture. Seasonal irrigation efficiencies should conform to the guidelines as outlined in the NRCS “Utah Conservation Practice Stand-ard 449 – Irrigation Water Management”Non-Irrigated lands also require management for optimal use of natural moisture. Water losses from runoff and evaporation should be minimized and infiltra-tion maximized through the use of vegetative, structural, and soil manage-ment practices. Table 3: Insufficient use of irrigation water (NRCS-GIS Inventory)Sediment deposits from soil erosion can reduce storage capacity of waterbodies. Water bodies and contributing defined source areas should be Potential at risk Needing treatment Priority treatmenttreated to allow sufficient water storage for present and intended uses. (acres) (acres) (acres)The watershed approach to management includes controlling soil erosion Crop 129,402 107,413 24,107in all areas of the watershed, from the upper mountainous areas to thefinal storage and use areas of the watershed. Range 61,947 52,046 35,209 Pasture 305,345 299,429 198,207Aging canal infrastructure is a concern throughout the state. Some sys-tems have been modified and continue to change to pressurized irrigation Forest 7,609 6,620 5,802systems. Older water conveyance structures are in need of improvements Other Ag. Land 19,208 17,532 14,783and a financial mechanism for improvement. Canal improvements willincrease water efficiency and water losses. TOTAL 523,511 476,420 278,108 State of Utah Resource Assessment 9
  14. 14. Major Resource Concerns W ATER Q U ALITY D EG RADATION Water Quality concerns include groundwater and surface water impacts. Groundwater pollution can result if residues from the use of pest control chemicals or excessive amounts of natural or human- induced nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium degrade groundwater quality. Pollu- tion from excessive salts and heavy metal can also impact ground water quality. Viruses, protozoa, and bacteria can be harmful pathogens affecting groundwater quality. Groundwater quality concerns can also be focused on recharge zones and well-head areas. The quali- ty of groundwater is a specific concern where highly saline irrigation water often exceeds crop toler- ances. The corrosive nature of this water can also be problematic for irrigation systems due to prema- ture system failure. In some cases, aquifers have been receding for many consecutive years in agricultural areas where deep wells supply irrigation water to fields. Many operators have to deepen wells and increase pump size to obtain access to the available well water. This condition has decreased the economic viability of these farming and ranching operations. Excessive Sediment in Surface Waters Surface water quality has similar concerns. Added impacts include suspended Table 4: Excess nutrients in surface and ground waters (NRCS-GIS Inventory) sediments from erosion and turbidity from excessive concentrations of mineral or organic particles, algae, or organic stains. Some tributaries and lakes or reser- Potential at Needing treat- Priority treat- voirs are impaired by non-point source pollution. In some cases pollutants exceed risk ment ment (acres) the numeric criteria established by the state standard for the designated use by a (acres) (acres) significant amount. Crop 88,763 69,803 21,875 Sources of excessive pollution loads are known to originate from irrigated lands, Range 785,659 746,919 462,749 rangelands, and stream bank erosion. Improved irrigation efficiencies, improved rangeland health, and the need to address nutrient application practices are all Pasture 149,159 120,239 48,597 methods to correct these problems. Technical assistance is also needed to provide Forest 575,635 561,956 218,957 land users with the information and financial resources they need to improve irrigation systems. Other Ag. 30,313 28,471 18,476 Land TOTAL 1,629,529 1,527,388 77065410
  15. 15. Excess Nutrients in Surface and Ground Waters Excess nutrients in surface waters can be the result of livestock manure or chemical fertilizers that are applied in excess getting into lakes and streams. Treatment will predominantly be applied on animal feeding opera- tions, cropland, and pastureland areas. Addressing the concern will keep agriculturally applied nutrients from reaching the waters of the United States through direct treat- ment and management practices that will mutually benefit the environ- ment and production goals. Priority treatment areas should be within identified 303d impaired water bod- ies. Animal waste digesters, com- posting, and fertilizer application practices have been developed as options to help keep excess nutri- ents from reaching waters of the United States. National and state quality criteria require that nutrients and organics are Table 5: Excessive salts in surface and ground waters stored, handled, disposed of, and applied so that groundwater and sur- (NRCS-GIS Inventory) face water uses are not adversely affected. Potential at risk Needing treatment Priority treatment Technical assistance should be in accordance with standards and speci- (acres) (acres) (acres) fications for NRCS Nutrient Management (590) and Waste UtilizationCrop 107,590 86,439 24,652 (633). Irrigation water should be managed according to standards for Irrigation Water Management (449) such that groundwater uses are notRange 2,051,365 1,956,618 287,736 adversely affected. Fertilizers should be applied at the correct agro-Pasture 323,885 276,462 128,519 nomic ratesForest 525,408 501,065 12,126 Excessive Salts in Surface and Ground Waters Salinity is another area of concern. The Colorado River Basin SalinityOther Ag. Land 62,286 57,933 17,807 Control Program tracks effects of improved irrigation techniques toTOTAL 2,847,234 2,687,423 389,536 reduce salt entering the waters of the Colorado River. Implementation of practices in the planning unit areas reduce contribution of salts to the Colorado River. State of Utah Resource Assessment 11
  16. 16. Major Resource Concerns D EGRADED P LANT C ONDITION Undesirable Plant Productivity and Health Unwanted and unproductive plant species on rangeland and agricultural fields are a major concern. The encroachment of pinion pines and juniper trees, cheat grass, red brome and other noxious and invasive weeds have decreased the productivity of many rangelands and croplands. Plants that are not adapted and/or suited to site conditions or client objectives are of concern. The national quality criteria calls for the use of selected plants that are adapted to the soil and climatic conditions, or the site is modified to make it suitable for the desired plants. Plants that are sustainable and do not nega- tively impact other resources and meet client objectives are also a criteria. Only species that are adapted to the site should be seeded. If plant species are not suitable for their intended use, either management operations should be modified to favor the desirable species or plant species that are better suited for the intended use should be selected and established. Plant productivity, health, and vigor are of concern. When plants do not produce the yields, quality, and soil cover to meet the objectives, productivity and profitability are affected. Plant production goals should be planned for the site and sufficiently productive to meet or exceed producer needs. For specific land uses, additional criteria apply:  Cropland: A healthy stand with vigorous growth produces at least 75 percent of site potential.  Rangeland: The plant community has a similarity index of at least 60 percent or an upward trend for similarity indices less than 60 percent.  Pastureland: Forage yields are at least 75 percent of high man- agement estimates cited in Forage Suitability Groups (FSG) Re- ports.  Forestland/Agroforest: Forests consist of healthy stands with vigorous growth having a stand density within 25 percent of optimum stocking on a stems/acre basis. Plants chosen for agro- forest applications should be consistent with Conservation Tree and Shrub Groups (CTSG) listings and height performance. Concerns for threatened or endangered plant species includes indi- vidual plants, habitat (or potential habitat) for one or more plant spe- cies listed or proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Plant population and habitats of threatened or endangered species should be managed to maintain, increase or improve current popula- tions, health, and sustainability.12
  17. 17. Noxious and Invasive Weeds Table 6: Excessive Plant Pest PressureNoxious and invasive weeds continue to plague Utah’s landscape. A compi- (NRCS-GIS Inventory)lation of county resource assessments shows the impact of noxious and in-vasive weeds as the most critical concern in Utah. The impacts affect soil Potential at risk Needing treatment Priority treatmentquality, vegetative cover, plant health, and water quality. Unacceptable con- (acres) (acres) (acres)ditions appear on both private and public lands. Invasive plants such as Crop 3,757 3,269 N/Acheat grass, pepperweed, musk thistle, Russian knapweed, tamarisk(saltcedar), Russian olive, and medusahead rye and many others are nega- Range 818,056 736,438 N/Atively impacting productive rangeland health. Conditions that are left un-checked often inundate the landscape and almost completely change plant Pasture 33,044 28,804 N/Apopulations. Productive native forages are eliminated and destroy access for Forest 70,894 69,767 N/Apublic recreation, and destroy productive forage for livestock and wildlife. Other Ag. 4,975 4,808 N/AExcessive Plant and Pest Pressure LandRangeland health in the shrub-steppe is declining. This increases the erosion TOTAL 930,726 843,086 N/Aof rangelands and reduces the productive potential of these lands for live-stock and wildlife. Decadent Sagebrush and the encroachment of Pinion andJuniper decrease available feed for livestock and wildlife. Wildlife often move onto agricultural lands to then find forage. Overstocking wildlife numbers andunimproved livestock grazing practices add negative plant pressures. Cheatgrass and excessive plant pressures of the black grass bug and the infestation of thebark beetle are creating additional fire hazards. The kinds and amounts of fuel loadings (plant biomass) also pose a risk to human safety and loss of propertyshould wildfire occur. The quality of existing plant communities may not provide adequate nutritive value or palatability to support the intended use. Forage plants should be man- aged to produce the desired forage for the intended use. It is recommended that additional financial resources be allocated to address the concern of noxious and invasive weeds. County weed boards support the review of local weed concerns, and work closely with county commissions and conservation districts for the coordination of weed issues. State coordination is supported through the state weed supervisors and staff from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. Inadequate Structure and Composition During extended drought cycles, the health and condition of plants on rangelands are impacted. Lower precipitation on rangeland increases the difficulty for plant selection and forage capacity for grazing. Management changes including timing and time-controlled grazing principles provide stabilization in plant condition and composition. State of Utah Resource Assessment 13
  18. 18. Major Resource Concerns I NADEQ UATE H ABITAT F OR F IS H & W ILDLIFE This resource concern occurs predominantly on rangeland with other potential on pasture, cropland, forest and other agricultural riparian lands. Treatment should focus on identified priority areas to protect, enhance and sustain habitat for sage-grouse with the use of direct range treatment or specified management practices. Another wildlife resource concern is wildlife depredation. Elk and deer herds often use agricultural lands for food shelter and water. Over populated wildlife herds degrade rangeland, encroach on private property and farmland, and become an additional safety risk when entering traffic corridors. Managed and limited wildlife herd size is critical for wildlife health and rangeland health. Inadequate Food It is important that the quantity and quality of food is available to meet the life history requirements of the species or guild of species of concern. A balance of wildlife with well-managed livestock grazing is a great management tool for the quality and quantity of available food on the range. Inadequate Cover and Shelter Cover or shelter for the species or guild of species of concern may be unavailable or inadequate. For aquatic species, this includes the lack thermal and refuge cover. Optimum criteria for the ecosystem or habitat types support the necessary plant species in adequate diversity, abundance, and physical structure; includ- ing the control of noxious and invasive weeds. It also includes the connectivity of fish and wildlife cover. Inadequate Water The quantity and quality of water is of concern. Lakes, rivers, and streams placed on the 303d list of impaired waterways are targeted to improve fish Table 7: Habitat Degredation and wildlife habitat as well as overall watershed health and to improve pub- (NRCS-GIS Inventory) lic safety. Potential at risk Needing treatment Priority treatment Inadequate Space (acres) (acres) (acres) Lack of required areas disrupts the life history of the species or guild of Crop 29,841 21,976 0 species of concern. Targeted treatment areas should determine projects to adequately meet the concerns. Examples include staging areas, forest and Range 3,534,045 3,190,407 1,279,089 feeding, lekking areas for breeding grounds, and migratory movement cor- ridors. Pasture 192,003 179,441 47,966 Forest 1,293,373 1,236,791 271,806 Fragmentation There is a concern that the habitat has insufficient structure, extent, and Other Ag. 135,035 130,825 0 connectivity to provide ecological function and achieve management objec- Land tives. It is important that fish and wildlife habitats are connected and main- TOTAL14
  19. 19. At- R is k S pe cie stained sufficiently to support the species of concern. Listing Common Name Group Primary Habitat Secondary HabitatImbalance Among and Within Wildlife Popu- Endangered California Condor Bird Clifflations Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Bird Lowland Riparian Mountain RiparianThere are concerns that wildlife populations are notin proportion to available quantity and qualities of Bonytail Fish Water—Loticfood, cover, water, space and other life history re- Colorado Pikeminnow Fish Water—Loticquirements. There is increased pressure to examinelands where listed and endangered species exist. Humpback Chub Fish Water—Lotic June Sucker Fish Water—Lentic Water—LoticTargeted project activities include land and watermanagement use that is consistent with direct popu- Razorback Sucker Fish Water—Loticlation management activities and long-term sustain- Virgin River Chub Fish Water—Lotic Lowland Riparianability with monitoring conducted by fish and wild-life agencies, the Utah Department of Agriculture Woundfin Fish Water—Loticand Food, and the Utah Division of Water Quality. Black-footed Ferret Mammal Grassland High Desert ScrubEndangered Species, Declining Species Kanab Ambersnail Mollusk Water-Lentic Wetlandand Species of Concern Threatened Canada Lynx Mammal Sub-alpine Conifer Lodgepole PinePopulations and habitats of fish and wildlife speciesof concern are managed to maintain, increase, or Mexican Spotted Owl Bird Cliff Lowland Riparianimprove current populations, health, or sustainabil- Lahontan Cuthroat Trout Fish Water-Lotic Mountain Riparianity. The at-risk species Greenback Cutthroat Trout Fish Water-Lotic list (to the right) Desert Tortoise Reptile Low Desert Scrub identifies fish and Mexican Spotted owl Bird Cliff Lowland Riparian wildlife species of Utah Prairie Dog Mammal Grassland Agriculture concern that have been listed as can- Candidate Coral Pink Sand Dunes Tiger Insect didates under the Beetle Endangered Spe- Greater Sage Grouse Bird Shrubsteppe cies Act. Gunnison Sage Grouse Bird Shrubsteppe Least Chub Fish Western Yellow-billed Chuckoo Bird Lowland Riparian Wolverine Mammal State of Utah Resource Assessment 15
  20. 20. Major Resource Concerns L IVESTOCK P RODU CTION L IMITATION Inadequate Feed and Forage Utah forage supplies are critical for livestock production. There is some concern that there are insufficient total feed and forage supplies to meet the nutritional needs of kinds and classes of livestock. Feed and forage including supplemental nutritional requirements are needed to meet production goals. Native grazers should be factored into the total feed and forage balance needs. The combination of grazers and browsers are important to maintaining balanced and healthy forage plant populations on the range. Locally-important sub irrigated meadowlands are a vital part of feed sources for livestock in some areas of the state. While high water tables remove the lands as prime soils, they are a very important and nutrition rich vegetation for livestock and wildlife. Small pastures and ranchetts are being degraded due to the lack of landowner knowledge and experience with sound and profitable grazing practices. Un-kept smaller grazing properties are also a major contributor to weed issues. In many cases, properly cared for pasturelands have three to four times the forage capac- ity with proper care. Inadequate Livestock Shelter In general, farmsteads have sufficient shelter during inclement weather. Open range livestock, however, have limited cover. Wind, rain, snow, and other natural occurrences can all impact livestock pro- duction goals and animal health. Artificial or natural shelter provides a benefi- cial source of cover. Animals that exhibit illness or death from disease, parasites, insects, or have16
  21. 21. digested poisonous plants are factors that add stress and mortality. Often Table 8: Inadequate Livestock Waterillness can also be attributed to or exaggerated by the effects of inadequate (NRCS-GIS Inventory)shelter or inclement weather. Potential at risk Needing treatment Priority treatment (acres) (acres) (acres)Inadequate Livestock WaterRegular and accessible water is essential for meeting production goals and Crop N/A N/A N/Acritical for maintaining animal health. There is a close correlation withhealthy rangeland and watersheds and having adequate water sources for Range 26,927,038 26,340,242 12,949,062livestock and wildlife. Pasture N/A N/A N/AProper grazing management practices include having sufficient water of Forest N/A N/A N/Aacceptable quality and providing adequate distribution to meet production Other Ag. N/A N/A N/Agoals. The distribution of water sources help limit over grazing concerns by Landmoving livestock within allotments to reduce impacts along streams andwaterways. TOTAL N/A N/A N/A Improved watering facilities and distribution of water help reduce the potential of water contamination and helps to minimize livestock and wildlife mortality. Increased water distribution on rangeland would also help distribute livestock and wildlife, which in turn would help plant growth improve the watershed health. Wildlife depredation continues to be problematic for livestock producers. Large numbers of deer and elk herds encroach on private property and forage on feed that is intended for privately owned livestock at the farmer and rancher’s expense. State of Utah Resource Assessment 17
  22. 22. Major Resource Concerns I NEFFICIENT E NERG Y U S E Inefficient Energy Use Some of the concerns for increasing efficiency are often associated with cost, maintenance, and sustainability. Increased education of renewable Table 9: Farming/Ranching Practices and Field Operations (NRCS-GIS Inventory) energy would help farmers and ranchers understand opportunities, costs, and benefits. Potential at risk Needing treatment Priority treatment (acres) (acres) (acres) Alternative Energy More alternative energy development and renewable energy opportunities Crop 416,914 363,316 359,552 within the state could be made available. Utah has a great potential of cap- Range 1,028,469 929,159 866,249 turing small energy turbines on water systems. The lack of educational opportunities, the expense of system installation verses income potential, Pasture 1,108,981 1,047,739 1,004, 523 and the lack of sufficient energy potential data is limiting energy capabili- Forest 50,647 48,098 40,214 ties. Other Ag. 189,803 188,793 79,744 Land TOTAL 2,794,814 2,577,105 2,310,068 Solar power energy is another alternative form of energy used in agriculture as well as other sectors of society. Solar power is extremely effective for pumping drinking water for livestock in remote areas without electricity. Variable speed pumps are an effective way of reducing energy costs and can be used to regulate flow when irrigation needs vary, or in other agricultural businesses where motors are used that could save energy costs. Farming and Ranching Practices and Field Operations The use of no-till and minimum tillage can minimize energy use. Increasing the education and implementation of energy efficient irrigation systems promotes energy efficiency and profitability. Additional installation of solar pumps for live- stock watering systems adds to energy reduction18
  23. 23. Energy efficiency is a resource concern on agricultural lands where energy use is associat-ed with equipment, production, and farmstead headquarters. These concerns can be ad-dressed with the use of more efficient engines, solar/wind power technology or other ener-gy-saving technologies and management strategies. Energy audits of farm operations willhelp guide treatment priorities for this concern.Split EstatesWith less than 18 percent of Utah land privately owned, increasing pressure for energydevelopment on farms and ranches with split estates, where the surface and the mineralestates have different ownership, creates greater potential for conflict. Many of these farmsand ranches produce hay and grain that require irrigation. To provide a stable environmentwhich promotes agricultural production and protects the financial investments on surfaceproperties (while not adversely impacting energy development activities) we recommend: Reasonable accommodation for oil and gas developers should include accommodation for surface rights and investments by mitigating intrusion. Exercising due regard for preservation of the property through technology, such as directional drilling, should also be considered. Good faith negotiations should be rendered between mineral rights and surface rights owners. Oil and gas developers should reach agreement to protect surface property resources and provide adequate compensation for loss of crops, surface damages, and loss of value to surface owners’ property rights.  An independent mediation process for conflict resolution should be provided. Public policy should provide protection for privately held surface rights that are at least equal to federal statutes that protect BLM-administered surface properties and state statutes related to pri- vately held surface properties and SITLA-owned mineral rights. Ethanol Subsidies Subsidies for corn production are concentrated in the Midwest. These subsidies create a burden on the livestock industry due to increased feed prices. An unfair market is created by the subsidies. State of Utah Resource Assessment 19
  24. 24. Major Resource Concerns A I R Q UALITY I MPA CTS Emissions of particulate matter (PM) and PM precursors The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that many scientific studies have found an association between exposure to particulate matter and a se- ries of significant health problems, including: aggravated asthma; chronic bronchitis; reduced lung function; irregular heartbeat; heart attack; and premature death in people with heart or lung disease. Particulate matter is also the main cause of visibility impairment in the nation’s cities and national parks. For each category of particulate matter, the proposal includes two types of standards: primary standards, to protect public health; and secondary standards, to protect the public welfare such as crops, vegetation, wildlife, buildings and national monuments and visibility. Particulate matter less than 10 micrometers in diameter are suspended in the air, causing potential health hazards to humans and animals. Particles of 10 mi- crometers and less have a greater potential of being suspended in the air for longer periods of time. Particulate matter less than 2.5 causes greater concern be- cause of the potential penetration deep into the lungs. Air that is trapped due to inversions increases photochemical reactions. Increased carbon emissions are caused by increased populations that driving vehicles and use fossil fuels. The use of no-till or minimum tillage practices can help reduce the increased particulate matter in the air. Also, air pollution is reduced when less fuel is used. Other potential air quality concerns include the following categories: Excessive Ozone When high concentrations of ozone adversely affect human and animal health, national air quality criteria require land use and management operations to reduce ozone precursors and comply with requirements of the State or Federal Implementation Plan. Greenhouse Gas Increased CO2 (carbon dioxide), N2O (nitrous, oxide), and CH4 (methane) concentrations that are adversely affecting ecosystem processes are of concern. Ammonia (NH3) Ammonia, which is emitted from animal waste and inorganic commercial fertilizers, con- tributes to air quality concerns and is a PM.25 precursor. Ammonia is measured in pounds/year by examining the average annual pounds of reduced NH3 emissions for the field or planning area/unit. Using best management practices to implement animal manure for fertilizer also promotes lower volatilization and reduces odor.20
  25. 25. Chemical Drift Table 10: Air Emissions of particulate matter and PM precursorsConcerns with chemicals are materials applied to control pests that drift (NRCS-GIS Inventory)downwind and contaminate or injure non-targeted fields, crops, soils, water,animal, and humans. National quality criteria include proper land use appli- Potential at risk Needing treatment Priority treatmentcation and management that reduce chemical drift into the atmosphere and (acres) (acres) (acres)comply with all applicable regulations and applicable label directions. Crop 241,325 197,145 34,258Objectionable Odors Range 974,016 826,344 81,065Land use and management operations can produce offensive smells. Odor-producing facilities and activities should be planned and sited to mitigate Pasture 355,688 312,565 64,487potential nuisance impacts as much as possible and meet all applicable reg- Forest 537,760 524,891 736ulations. Other Ag. 136,218 131,381 8,348Reduced Visibility LandAccording to the national description of concern, sight distance is impaireddue to airborne particles causing unsafe conditions and impeded viewing of TOTAL 2,245,034 1,992,326 188,894natural vistas, especially in Class 1 viewing areas (primarily national parksand monuments). Undesirable Air Movement Wind velocities (too little or too much) reduce animal or plant productivity, impact human comfort and increase energy consumption. Winter inversions traps pollutants and decrease air quality. Mountain valleys have a n increased concern due to the topography of the land and lack of air movement. Adverse Air Temperature Air temperatures (too cold or too hot) reduce animal or plant productivity, impact human comfort and increase energy consumption. Air temperature can reach above 100 degrees, especially in Southern Utah. Northern Utah has the problem of cold winter temperatures that can dip to 40 degrees below zero. Air quality concerns are present. The cause and management of dealing with air quality impacts have been continually reviewed and revised. Recognizing that concerns exist and implementing best management practices for improv- ing our environment continues to be the goal. State of Utah Resource Assessment 21
  26. 26. County Resource Assessment Summary C o u n t y L e v e l As s e s s m e n t s Local working groups have been organized to prioritize the natural resources concerns in each county. Conservation districts have coordinated input from local landowners, city and county officials, and multiple local natural resource professionals from state and federal agencies. County local working groups have coordinated public outreach campaigns, surveys, public informational meetings, and called upon the knowledge of local landowners to facilitate discussion and gather comments in determining the natural resource issues of greatest concern. As county reports are being completed the Utah Conservation Commission has compiled general categorical issues and concerns that have been identified. The remainder of the Utah statewide report is a culmination of county assessments and a brief description of each major concern. C o u n t y R e s o u r c e As s e s s m e n t s The 84,000 square miles in Utah has been characterized as the second driest state in the nation. The vast landscapes and national parks are inviting to explore throughout the year. The lower humidity provides a condition for ultimate winter sports, and the arid climate, where water is available, provides agricultural productivity. Each county in Utah has abundant natural resources. The landscape is as diverse as anywhere in the world. The varied soils, weather conditions, precipitation, and growing season provide a unique blend of beauty and food production. The colorful remnants from sandstone erosion in Southern Utah to the high plateau grassy meadows in the mountains to the north differ in utility and management demands. Managing landscapes state-wide is problematic because of diversity. The evaluation of resources by watersheds or by county boundaries identifies more spe- cific needs and provides a guide for improving natural resources and landscapes. Each county in Utah, led by conservation districts, has developed a list of natural resource concerns of greatest priority and works continually to coordinate funding and projects that improve watershed health. Utah Conservation Commission The Utah Conservation Commission has statutory duties and obligations to provide leadership and oversight to natural resource health and conservation of resources. For additional information about the Utah Conservation Commission, go to: Utah Code: 4-18-2. Purpose declaration. (1) The Legislature finds and declares that the soil and water resources of this state constitute one of its basic assets and that the preservation of these resources requires planning and programs to ensure the development and utilization of these re- sources and to protect them from the adverse effects of wind and water erosion, sediment, and sediment related pollutants. 4-18-5. Conservation commission -- Functions and duties. (1) The commission shall: (a) facilitate the development and implementation of the strategies and programs necessary to: (i) protect, conserve, utilize, and develop the soil, air, and water resources of the state; and (ii) promote the protection, integrity, and restoration of land for agricultural and other beneficial purposes; Lt. Governor Greg Bell and UACD President Wendall Stembridge, 201022
  27. 27. Conservation DistrictsDuring the great dust bowl of the 1920s and 1930s drought and over-cultivation devoured the crops. Soil erosion from wind and water destroyed food produc-tion and was detrimental to the health and financial well-being to the citizens of the United States. The devastation became so severe that Congress voted, withapproval from President Roosevelt, to establish the Soil Conservation Act of 1935.Since that time local conservation districts have been established across America to improve the health and productivity of agriculture by providing leadershipand environmental stewardship of our natural resources. The law allowed for a board of elected supervisors for each conservation district and established theirpowers and duties. To locate your conservation district elected officials go to: Code:17D-3-103. Conservation district status, authority, and duties. (2) (a) A conservation district may: (i) survey, investigate, and research soil erosion, floodwater, nonpoint source water pollution, flood control, water pollution, sediment damage, and water-shed development; (ii) subject to Subsection (2)(b), devise and implement on state or private land a measure to prevent soil erosion, floodwater or sediment damage, nonpointsource water pollution, or other degradation of a watershed or of property affecting a watershed; (iii) subject to Subsection (2)(b), devise and implement a measure to conserve, develop, utilize, or dispose of water on state or private land;Each county in Utah has elected local citizens to provide conservation leadership. This allows for a structured organization to evaluate and determine best man-agement practices and the proper disbursement of financial resources for land and water improvements. Funding is available through federal, state, and localsources that are used to improve the natural resources. Conservation districts meet regularly to lead conservation efforts in their counties.The following county pages are listed in alphabetical order and have been submitted by local county workgroups. Additional county assessment information canbe found at: The county assessments will provide a greater detail of concerns and suggestedactions to improve the condition associated with each concern. State of Utah Resource Assessment 23
  28. 28. B EAVER Water Quantity: More storage is needed to contain available snow melt moisture. Some canal delivery projects still need to be completed so landowners can improve irrigation systems. Agri- culture lands in most areas are converting from flood systems to sprinkler systems. Water Quality: There are still areas where excessive run-off from fields, rangelands, and forests take place. Lack of vegetation and monoculture of pinion/ pine and juniper trees, and sage- brush in several areas contribute to nutrient loading and lack of slowing down water into storage systems. Rangeland Health: Continue to work with producers/permittees with better grazing management practices, produce water/spring development on range- lands to manage distribution of livestock and wildlife to improve plant growth. Treat more acreage of Pinion/Juniper monoculture sites and re-seed with grass, forbes, and shrubs. Better management of wild horse and elk herds needed in different parts of the county. Tamarisk (Saltcedar) Noxious Weeds: Need to develop an active, functioning cooperative weed management area committee in the county to address noxious weed mitigation. Need to better con- trol invasive weeds such as scotch, musk & bull thistle. Develop a plan for tamarisk (saltcedar) and Russian olive control areas, and knapweed in certain areas of the county. Energy & Renewable Energy Development: Continue promoting alternative energy development and opportunities within the county using wind and solar power sources. Encourage use of no-till drill and minimum con- servation tillage to reduce energy use. Promote low use irrigation systems on the coun- ty’s hay/croplands. Promote using solar power for pumping water on livestock water projects. Interagency Cooperation: Continue to work, plan, and coordinate with state and federal land management agencies to address livestock grazing management, conservation projects, wildlife numbers and appropriate management, maintaining economic agriculture viability or rural communi- ties within Beaver County.24
  29. 29. B OX E LDERGrazing Management:Box Elder County includes vast areas of rangeland from the low-level salt-desert shrub around the Great Salt Lake (4200 ft) to elevations above 9000 ft in theRaft River Mountains. Much of the lower to mid elevations are subjected to varying degrees of cheat grass invasion. Due to the absence of historic fire inter-vals, other areas have seen increased woody vegetation of sagebrush, greasewood, and juniper. Many projects have been implemented in the past 20 years toimprove degraded rangelands. Because introduced weeds have altered the succession of native vegetation, most successful restoration work has been achievedthrough the use of competitive introduced grasses and forbs. These resource improvements need continued effort. Noxious & Invasive Weeds: Noxious and invasive weeds pose one of the most significant threats to natural resources in Box Elder County. medusahead rye, knapweed species, musk thistle, hoary cress, perennial pepperweed, and dyer’s woad are some of the weeds of most significant concern. As is often the case, county weed crews focus on new infestations ear- ly, and follow the early detection/rapid response model for weed control. While cheatgrass is a significant prob- lem and has degraded thousands of acres in Box Elder County, control related to this annual grass is most suc- cessful when paired with re-vegetation efforts and proper grazing practices. Wildlife Habitat: Sage-Grouse: Med u sa he ad The residents of Box Elder County have long valued their native wildlife. Due to the risk of listing greater sage -grouse as an endangered species, improving habitat remains a top priority. The western portion of Box Elder County is home to healthy populations of sage-grouse. Private landowners and public land agency managers have been proactive in response to peti- tions for listing sage-grouse as an endangered species. Landowners and managers have coordinated efforts under the West BoxElder Local Work Group. Many range improvements and changes to grazing practices have been made with promotion of sage grouse in mind. Continued pres-sure from environmental interests to list sage-grouse warrant increased vigilance and cooperation to improve their habitat.Soil Erosion:Most potentially damaging soil erosion occurs with dryland farming. From the northern end of the Bear River Valley west to Snowville, the Blue Creek/Pocatello Valley area is dominated by dryland farming. This is also an area subject to occasional severe storms. Various practices have been applied includingterraces, diversions, debris basins, strip farming, and residue management. The Howell/Blue Creek watershed recently received an Emergency Watershed Pro-tection Grant to make improvements to aging erosion control structures. Also, as improvements are madeand adapted to local needs, no-till farming is expected to play a bigger role in reducing erosion.Water Quality:The Lower Bear River is listed as an impaired water body for phosphorous loading. A Total MaximumDaily Load (TMDL) is being created to manage and improve water quality. Most agricultural inputs viaanimal feeding operations have been and are being addressed. As load allocations are determined, financialassistance programs should be applied where there is greatest load reduction for dollars invested.Irrigation Water Management:The Bear River Valley is dominated by flood irrigation. Due to soil type and slope, laser-leveled fields canachieve a high degree of irrigation efficiency. Moving west of Tremonton, flood irrigation gives way tosprinklers fed either by stream flow or well water. Because water is a precious resource, any improvementto irrigation efficiency is important to capture. State of Utah Resource Assessment 25