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Assessment of Utah's Agricultural Resources

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

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

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  • 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. 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. • 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. 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 http://www.uacd.org 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. 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- www.uacd.org.tices. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/HomePage.htmLoss 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. 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. 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. 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 http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snotel/Utah/utah.html 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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: http://ag.utah.gov/divisions/conservation/AboutUCC.html 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. 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: http://www.uacd.org/directory-of-districts.html.Utah 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: http://www.uacd.org/County%20Resource%20Assessments.html. 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. 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. 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
  • 30. C ACHE Ag r i c u l t u r a l L a n d P r e s e r v a t i o n : Cache County is one of Utah’s leading agricultural counties, consistently ranking in the top five in the state. Prime farmland is also prime developable land. Growth must be managed to preserve prime farmland. Most farmers, ranchers, and dairyman want to continue farming, but are concerned about the future of their profession and family operation. The current rate of development is consuming over 600 acres of prime and statewide important farmland each year. Pub- lic input from the 2009 Envision Cache Valley workshops and meetings indicate that residents put a high priority on conserving land in the valley floor “for its working farms and role in protecting water quality.” The most popular growth projection sce- narios were those in which the most farmland is preserved for working ranches and farms and population growth stays within the boundaries of existing cities and towns. Cache County is currently working on a zoning ordinance to cluster development in the county, protecting land for agriculture production. Water Distribution Systems: Today there are about fifty-eight mutual irrigation companies in Cache County. Aging infra- structure has created problems with seepage and leaking, compromising efficiency and con- servation in delivery of irrigation water. Due to a number of canal failures in the past few years, legislation was passed, requiring certain water conveyance facilities to adopt a safety management plan. In addition, significant growth is projected throughout the basin during the next twenty years. While most of basin municipalities have sufficient water to meet projected demands, many towns will eventually reach or exceed the limits of their capacity. Irrigation company water management plans being developed should address both hazards and options for protecting water rights from forfeiture. Invasive Weeds: Noxious weeds present serious problems in pasture, open lands and the urban interface. Cache County has many different nox- ious weeds. Medusahead rye, dyer’s woad , and leafy spurge are some of the main concerns. Cache County places top priority on new, relatively unknown weeds before they become widespread. This approach, with the help of government agencies and proac- tive landowners, has allowed great strides in controlling weeds. Resources are scarce, however, which limits control efforts. Cache County landowners with medusahead problems have started a proactive weed prevention program to help control its spread. The project, which includes mapping, spraying, and reseeding, is governed by a board of landowners and overseen by the Blacksmith Fork Conservation District. Medusahead control efforts have been focused primarily in the south end of the valley but are being extended to include the whole county. Dyer’s woad Grazing & Range Management: Sixty percent of the county is used for grazing. Public rangelands in Cache County are generally in good condition. There are localized areas that become over- utilized by livestock, particularly around springs and riparian areas. Changes in management could alleviate most issues. However, making changes to public range management is a difficult and slow process. Private rangeland condition depends much on the landowners themselves whose decisions are often finan- cially based. Small pasture management is increasingly an issue in Cache County as small ranchettes of 2-10 acres are developed. Landowners of these small properties often have little knowledge of pasture management and consequently dont manage their acreage appropriately. Educational opportunities and re- sources for small acreage landowners are available, but are underutilized.26
  • 31. C ARBON Water Quantity and Quality: Because of the areas desert climate, water in Carbon County is scarce. The area is highly dependent on mountain water storage for all water needs. One major concern for water quantity includes sediment buildup in reservoirs which reduces storage capacity. Because of the area’s mancos shale and the inherent salt, another major water quality concern for Car- bon County is salinity. With the many coal mines in the area, mining impacts on water qual- ity are also a major concern. Soils: Because of the low content of organic matter in Emery County soils, the return of organic matter is particularly important in soils that are irrigated. The majority of the soils in the area are formed from shale and are rich in illite and kaolinite clays. These clays have a low capacity to retain plant nutrients. The clay-like nature of the soils also makes them highly erodible. Because of this, reservoirs in Emery County are faced with sedimentation, reduc- ing water storage capacity and decreasing water quality. Salinity of the soil also has major impacts on water quality.E n e r g y D e v e l o p m e n t & Al t e r n a t i v e E n e r g y :Carbon County’s economy is largely driven by energy production, due to the vast amounts ofenergy resources in the area. Coal, oil, and gas production are the major industries. EmeryCounty also has many opportunities for alternative energy development with large deposits of oilsands. Also, with the county’s abundant coal deposits, the opportunity for advanced coal tech-nology or carbon sequestration is present.Rangeland:Carbon County’s rangleland has historically been highly utilized for livestock grazing and re-mains an important resource for ranching today. Cattle and sheep typically graze during thesummer months in upland ranges administered by the U.S. Forest Service and the State Institu- tional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA). In fall and winter months, cattle and sheep are generally brought to lower range- lands to graze, most of which are administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Ranchers are challenged with limited water and watering facilities, invasive and noxious weeds, and increasing regulations on grazing permit numbers and duration. Fish & Wildlife: Carbon County is home to a number of threatened, endangered, and candidate species, as well as at-risk species that are not fed- erally listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Among the most recently federally listed species is the greater sage-grouse. Efforts to improve habitat and reduce disease and predation are necessary in order to de-list the bird. Another wildlife concern Field bindweed in Carbon County is management of big game. State of Utah Resource Assessment 27
  • 32. D AGGETT Water Quality and Quantity: The two main things that adversely affect the water quality in Daggett County are salinity and sediment. With the inclusion of Daggett to the salinity control programs progress has been made. Pipelines and sprinkler systems are being used to improve water quality and quantity. Water storage for some areas is an important issue. One of the canal systems has been piped and the other two have applied for funding assistance. Pasture/Rangeland Health: This county’s agriculture production is based mainly on the rearing of livestock, pasture, hay- land, and rangeland to support the livestock industry. As part of the livestock industry the use of pastures and rangelands are an important tool used in this area. Pas- ture and rangeland health is key to long-term watershed health and profitability. Drought years limit the irrigation water needed for good plant health. Since becoming a salinity area with funding for improved irrigation systems and pipelines, yields have increased and management practices have improved. Noxious Weeds: The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food defines a noxious weed as “Any plant the Commissioner of Agricul- ture determines to be especially injurious to public health, crops, livestock, land, or other property.” Most noxious weeds are non-native plants that have been intentionally or accidentally introduced into the United States. Some of the main problems caused by noxious weeds are: reducing crop yields, reducing livestock forage, limiting recreation- al opportunities, reducing wildlife habitat, displacing native vegetation, increasing soil erosion, and altering soil and water quality. In an attempt to get weed control underway, Daggett County has been making efforts to complete mapping for the noxious weeds in the county. With the completion of mapping, weed spraying is done in a Quackgrass more strategic plan. Once sprayed, the most effective way to keep the weeds from returning is planting de- sired plants where the weeds once were. Wildlife Management: Because Daggett County is basically surrounded by public lands, wildlife management becomes a critical issue to watershed health, recrea- tion and agriculture sustainability. Invasive species, threatened and endangered species and big game en- croachment are important issues for Daggett. Forest Health: Forest lands are a large portion of Daggett County and a key component of watershed health. Beetles and the resulting dead trees continue to be a major concern for the county. Other concerns include wilderness desig- nation, which is identified as land designated and protected by the federal government. It is highly restricted in its use. Daggett county people are concerned about more land being declared wilderness and already desig- nated lands becoming more restricted.28
  • 33. D AVISWater Quantity, Quality and Irrigation Infrastructure:Agriculture in Davis County depends on affordable water and efficient irrigation. Urban encroachment causes problems for canal systems including: subdivi-sions being built over existing pipes and field drains, low water in canals, increased liability, blocked access to easements, flooding, flood ditch issues and highwater pricing. Irrigation improvements and other conservation measures must continue to be implemented and practiced on agricultural lands, as well as incommercial and residential areas, to stretch limited supply. The price of water in the county is among the highest in the state. Many canal companies cannotafford to make major improvements and are forced to upgrade the systems only after a major problem occurs. Current funding programs are inadequate fordealing with the magnitude of canal improvements needed.Urban development can introduce storm water and pollution into the irrigation infrastructure. Unauthorized storm drain discharge increases the stress on thealready dilapidating systems; and is a major source of irrigation water pollution. Contaminants such as oil, fertilizer, chemicals and other debris from urbanareas enter the storm drain systems that empty into the irrigation water. These pollutants are extremely problematic to farmers who are working to comply withfood safety and water quality regulations.Noxious and Invasive Weeds:Noxious and invasive weed infestations tend to be concentrated near roads, highway corridors, railroad lines, recreationaltrails, grazing areas, along canals, dormant and stalled construction sites, fence lines, and in privately owned ranchettes.Weed seeds are often transported in the canals and waterways. These areas are not always adequately maintained and areproblematic sources of weed infestations.The district and its partners have identified nutsedge as the top weed of concern for crop land, phragmites for waterways,and cheatgrass as the top concern on rangelands. Problem weeds in the county include bindweed, cheatgrass, common purs- Phragmiteslane, dyer’s woad, hoary cress, poison hemlock, phragmites and puncture vine. High priority weeds that have small popula-tions include black henbane, Canada thistle, dalmatian toadflax, goatsrue, Japanese knotweed, jointed goatgrass, leafy spurge, medusahead rye, purple loose-strife, Russian olive, scotch thistle, St. Johns wort, silver nightshade, tamarisk, yellow nutsedge, and yellow starthistle. It is critical to keep potential invaderssuch as myrtle spurge out of the county.Ai r Q u a l i t y :Davis County is designated by the EPA as a nonattainment area for Particulate Matter (PM) and Ozone. The county’s leading source of PM2.5 is combustionfrom vehicles. Other major contributors include refineries, construction and soot. Agricultural source of ammonia in Davis County comes from outside of thecounty. The inversions trap PM2.5, and other pollutants, in the valley and peak November through March. Ground level ozone is formed from automobile,industrial, and other pollutions by chemical reactions when there is bright sunshine with high temperatures. The highest ozone concentrations usually occur between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. from May through September. Air pollution from vehicles accounts for more than half of the air pollution along the Wasatch Front (www.cleanair.utah.gov). Ag S u s t a i n a b i l i t y / Ag L a n d P r e s e r v a t i o n : Davis County was once a thriving agricultural community. Today the county is highly urbanized and much of the prime soil and agricultural lands have been sold to development. Agricultural land is commonly worth more eco- nomically when developed than used as farmland. When farmers struggle to make a profit or there is no one to take over the business after retirement, this land is too often sold to development. Once fertile soil is paved over, it is no longer available for food and fiber production. Davis County has rich fertile soil. Unless conservation of this land is a priority and agriculture is profitable, it will be lost to development. State of Utah Resource Assessment 29
  • 34. D UCHESNE Water Quality and Quantity: Water is considered the blood of the Uintah Basin. The majority of Duchesne County water supply comes from the Uintah Mountains, with the Forest Service overseeing this federal land. Agriculture, residential, industrial, and recreational users utilize this life-sustaining resource. The top priority con- cern of the county is the maintenance and enhancement of the water storage and delivery systems. The salinity control program continues to be an important conservation program that enhances and con- serves water. Pasture and Rangeland: This county’s agriculture production is based mainly on the rearing of livestock and crops to support the livestock industry. As part of the livestock industry, the use of pastures and rangelands are im- portant tools used. Pasture and rangeland health is key to long-term watershed health and profitability. Proper nutrient management is key to water quality concerns for animal feeding operations that combine the use of pastures/rangelands and corrals for confined feeding of animals. Noxious Weeds: Invasive noxious weeds have been described as a raging biological wildfire with the potential of becoming out of control, spreading rapidly and causing enormous economic losses. Weeds often reduce crop yields, and can damage watersheds, in- crease soil erosion, negatively impact rangeland plant and animal communities and adversely affect outdoor recreation. Energy: The boom and bust cycle of the Uintah Basin for the last 50 years is based on the oil and gas extraction industries. These industries have proven critical to the economy of the Uintah Basin. Because of the importance of this industry in the Basin all aspects of the economy are impacted by these extraction industries. It is important for the county to ensure that the stabil- ity and soundness of the extraction industries are doing well. There are many chal- lenges facing these industries that need to be identified and addressed for the Basin. Horay cress Air Quality: During the winter of 2009-10 in the Uinta Basin, limited air quality monitoring revealed periods of elevated daytime ozone concentrations exceeding the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stand- ards. Although the Uinta Basin 2009-10 winter measurements were not made at regulatory stations, the re- sults raised concerns regarding the winter ozone levels in the region. Of particular concern was the potential impact these ozone levels might have on the health of Uinta Basin residents. Concern was also expressed that a failure to meet EPA standards for ozone levels could result in a nonattainment designation for Uinta Basin’s counties, a consequence that could severely impact the economy of eastern Utah and the state as a whole. The results of the Basin-wide winter ozone study showed elevated wintertime ozone concentrations through- out most of the Uinta Basin during temperature inversion events. Results also showed that the lower eleva- tion monitoring locations, with the greatest number of nearby wells, tended to have the highest ozone concentrations and the greatest number of dan- gerous samples. Locations at higher elevations, approximately 5500-6000 ft above sea level, had relatively few dangerous samples, despite being near significant numbers of oil and gas wells.30
  • 35. E MERY Water Quantity and Quality: Because of the desert climate, water in Emery County is scarce. The area is highly dependent on mountain water storage for all water needs. One major concern for water quantity includes sediment buildup in reservoirs which reduces storage capacity. Because of the area’s mancos shale and the inherent salt in the soil, one major water quality concern for Emery County is sa- linity. Currently, many irrigation companies and share holders in the county are making the transition to sprinkler irrigation as opposed to flood irrigation in an effort to reduce the salt load- ing into the Colorado River system. With the many coal mines in the area, mining impacts on water quality are also a major concern, as well as the recent discovery of possible zebra mussel in Electric Lake. Soils: Because of the low content of organic matter in Emery County soils, the return of organic matter is particularly important in soils that are irrigated. The majority of soils in the area are formedfrom shale and are rich in illite and kaolinite clays. These clays have a low capacity to retain plant nutrients. The clay-like nature of the soils also makesthem highly erodible. Because of this, reservoirs in Emery County are faced with sedimentation, reduced water storage capacity and decreased water quali-ty. Salinity of the soil also has major impacts water quality.E n e r g y D e v e l o p m e n t & Al t e r n a t i v e E n e r g y :Emery County’s economy is largely driven by energy production, due to the vast amounts of energy resources in the area. Coal, oil, and gas production arethe major industries. Emery County also has many opportunities for alternative energy development with large deposits of oil sands. Also, with the coun-ty’s abundant coal deposits, the opportunity for advanced coal technology or carbon sequestration is present.Rangeland:Emery County’s rangeland has historically been highly utilized for livestock grazing and remains an important resource for ranching today. Cattle andsheep ranchers typically graze during the summer months in upland ranges administered by the U.S. Forest Service and the State Institutional Trust Lands Administration. In fall and winter months, cattle and sheep are generally brought to lower rangelands to graze, most of which are administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Ranchers are challenged with limited water and watering fa- cilities, invasive and noxious weeds including scotch thistle, and increasing regu- lations on grazing permit numbers and duration. Fish & Wildlife: Emery County is home to a number of threatened, endangered, and candidate spe- cies, as well as at-risk species that are not federally listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Among the most recently federally listed species is the greater sage-grouse. Efforts to improve habitat and reduce disease and predation are nec- essary in order to de-list the bird. Another wildlife concern in Emery County is Scotch thistle management of big game. State of Utah Resource Assessment 31
  • 36. G ARFIELD Water Quality/Quantity: Continue to work with landowners to improve irrigation efficiency and management in converting farms to sprinkler and gated pipe irrigation systems. Continue efforts to partner and support funding opportunities to improve irrigation and canal company water delivery systems from open canal to pipe- lines. Improve occurrence of salinity into rivers and streams in central and eastern portion of county with improved irrigation systems. Assist small animal feeding operations (AFOs) to be in compliance with state’s water quality strategy and rules, continue to improve stream bank stabilization, upland and rangelands from excessive run-off, and support tamarisk and Russian olive removal from county’s river and stream channels. Rangeland Health: Support and encourage pinion pine and juniper trees, and Sagebrush encroachment mitigation projects within the county. Continue to work with landowners/permittees on better grazing management prac- tices. Work with state and federal agencies on rangeland projects that will mutually benefit Sage Grouse and livestock. Assist producers with water distribu- tion and spring development projects to better manage livestock grazing areas/pasture allotments. Noxious Weeds: Support Canyon Country Cooperative Weed Management (CWMA) partnership with noxious weed mitigation projects and education. Continue to serve as county weed board and coordinate with county and CWMA committee. Secure weed grants for projects within CWMA and support annual weed spray days. Coordinate with county weed supervisor and part-time weed sprayers on projects. Focus main efforts on county weed list including: musk, scotch, and bull thistle, Russian knapweed, and white-top. Support efforts to mitigate Russian olive and tamarisk. Wildlife Issues: Continue to partner with private, local, state, and federal agency partners to support healthy sage grouse populations in the western por- tion of the county through upland conservation projects. Work with state and federal agencies to develop better Elk management strate- gies to maintain a reasonable population of elk in the county’s watersheds. F e d e r a l Ag e n c y R e l a t i o n s : 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 communities within Garfield County. Musk thistle R i p a r i a n Ar e a s : Some riparian areas are impacted due to high concentrations of elk and poor grazing management of livestock. Improve riparian areas through best manage- ment practices of riparian areas, encourage intensive/short duration-rest rotation use for livestock grazing management systems, control high numbers of elk within problem areas of Dixie National Forest and some BLM lands.32
  • 37. G RANDAg r i c u l t u r a l L a n d P r o t e c t i o n :Farmland is very important but also very limited in Grand County. Water constraints, limitedland suitable for crop production and increased development and expansion of communities allcontribute to this limitation. Although water and arable land availability are elements of theproblem for which little can be done, urban development is one element that can be controlled.In order to preserve arable land and resulting agricultural products, it is important that all privateland currently under crop and range production are considered for agricultural land protection n.Water Conservation & Groundwater Protection:Water supplies are very limited in Grand County. Because the majority of drinking water comesfrom groundwater, it is vital that groundwater is recharged from clean sources. Major waterbodies of concern include Pack Creek, Mill Creek, Moab Valley Aquifer, Castle Valley Aquifer,and Spanish Valley Aquifer. The Utah Division of Water Resources estimates that as GrandCounty population increases, communities will be limited by the volume of water they can deliv-er with their existing systems by 2020. By the year 2050, some communities will have insuffi-cient water supplies. Conservation will enable communities to extend the time period when sys-tem expansion will be required or when additional supplies will be needed.Soil Erosion:Erosion is a common problem for the Grand County area due to the sandy and clay texture of many of the soils. Little rainfall and resulting limited vegetationgrowth contribute to erosion, as soils are exposed to natural erosion. Runoff from intense summer thunderstorms rapidlysheds from barren rock outcrops and produces flash floods in the dry washes and canyon bottoms, increasing sediment in streams and reservoirs, and ultimately causing water quality and water storage capacity issues. S m a l l - S c a l e Ag r i c u l t u r e : Support of small-scale agriculture in Grand County is a way to maintain an active agricultural industry and preserve and main- tain agriculturally productive lands. Grand County’s unique cul- ture, extended growing season, and long distances to markets provide small-scale agricultural producers a unique opportunity to market their goods locally. Many small-scale farms in Grand County market to consumers of organic goods.Noxious Weeds:Noxious and invasive weeds are a threat to Grand County ecosystems, waterways, and agricultural production. The areas ofmost concern are riparian areas, cropland, forestland and rangeland. Development and various recreational activities tend tospread weeds into new areas annually. Tamarisk, Russian olive, and Russian knapweed are species of particular concern inthe county. Russian olive State of Utah Resource Assessment 33
  • 38. I RON Water Quality/Quantity: Continue to assist producers with improved irrigation water management projects to save water resources in the county. More water storage facilities are need- ed within the county for agriculture and future growth of Iron County. Some canal delivery projects need to be completed so landowners can improve irrigation systems. Support efforts to create water storage reservoir from Coal Creek. Excessive fertilizer applica- tion from farms and especially from homes has an impact on water quality. Additional canal structures are needed to prevent flooding during summer monsoon rains. There is a need to develop more upland vege- tation projects to treat bare ground and monocultures of pinion pine and juniper and agebrush to slow water flows which recharge groundwater. Well head protection education and groundwater well sampling programs are high on the priority list. Some stretches of streams are impaired by high temperatures and suspended sediments. Noxious Weeds: Invasive weeds such as scotch thistle and white top are two major species, among others, that impact the county’s rangeland, private lands, pastures and meadows. Continue to support the Iron County Coopera- tive Weed Management Area (CWMA) partnership with project development and funding opportunities. Forest Health: Iron County has a large segment of privately owned forest lands. Working with private forest owners is a main priority in maintaining properly functioning forest lands with healthy aspen stands and pastures. Aspen decline on Cedar Mountain is a major concern. It is critical to continue to partner with private land- owners, academia, local, state, and federal partners in reversing this trend. Continued work is necessary with grazers on sustaina- ble grazing management plans, and supporting state and federal forestry projects for landowners to use for improving their forest land resources. Grazing and Public Lands/Wild Horse Management: Assist producers/permittees with better grazing management on their farms, ranches and public land allotments. Continue to en- courage better livestock watering systems to improve grazing management methods and improving rangeland health and carrying capacity. Support state and federal cost-share programs that help producers improve rangeland resources. Encourage the BLM to better manage federal rangelands in the western portion of the county. This can be done by regulating wild horse populations through horse gathers and support the reemergence of the horse processing industry through lobbying efforts with elected offi- cials. Loss of Open Space/Locally Important Farmlands: Iron County continues to be one of the highest population growth counties in the state. Because of this, wise planning and zoning around the locally important agricultural lands is a high priority. Continue to educate landowners about the county’s agriculture protection area ordinance and encourage landowners in the county to take advantage of this ordinance. Coordinate with county officials and planners in maintaining sustainable agriculture corridors in Cedar and Parowan Valleys. Assist landowners with conservation cost/share and low interest loan projects that will enhance economic viability on their operations. Squarrose knapweed34
  • 39. J UABImprove Water Quantity, Quality, & Irrigation Efficiency:Juab County has few live streams, natural lakes, or reservoirs. Spring runoff, precipitation and wells arethe main sources of water. Any new projects that will increase, conserve or protect water are the highestpriority of the district. Federal, state and local programs to assist in these projects are a crucial and muchneeded factor. Improve Rangelands: Most of Juab County consists of range- land, therefore improving this resource is important just because it is so vast. Brush and invasive species control and the re-seeding of more productive species are needed to improve the District’s rangeland conditions. The implementa- tion of watering facilities improves wildlife habitat and makes managed grazing systems possi- ble. Much of the rangeland is infested with cheatgrass, annual mustard weed and sagebrush. The higher elevations are covered with pinion pine and juniper trees. All of these species are invasive and conducive to wild fire and soil erosion. Wildfires leave the soil bare and wind erosion becomes a serious problem. This leads to dust storms that reduce visibility along the I- 15 freeway and potentially closes the interstate. These dust storms also compromise the air quality of communities and cities in Juab, Utah, and Salt Lake Counties. Efforts by federal, state, and local governments and private land owners are needed to reseed areas damaged by the Milford Flat fire of 2007.Control Invasive Plants & Weeds:Pinion pine and juniper trees, sagebrush and knapweeds are invading and degrading rangeland. Noxiousweeds degrade irrigated cropland and reduce the value of agricultural commodities. Federal, state andlocal funding and technical assistance is needed to address this high priority issue.Adequate Marketing for Agricultural Products:The Juab Conservation District encourages Utah Department of Agriculture and Food & Utah StateUniversity Extension to continue helping with this critical need.Reduce the Erosion of Soil by Either Wind or Water:The implementation of best management practices dealing with irrigation and re-vegetation of range-land using Agricultural Resource Development Loan program, Grazing Improvement Program, Envi-ronmental Quality Improvement Program, Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program, and other programs,is needed to protect soils from erosion.. Cheatgrass State of Utah Resource Assessment 35
  • 40. K ANE Rangeland Health: Continue to promote better grazing management of livestock and managing increasing numbers of elk and other wildlife. Promote Upper Kanab Creek CRMP/ Watershed plan proposed by BLM, the district and other conservation partners. Pinion pine and juniper trees, and sagebrush encroachment is a major issue in parts of the district. Drought and invasive species such as scotch thistle, and knapweed are concerns on rangelands. Promote livestock water/spring development projects in areas to manage livestock grazing management. Noxious Weeds: Scotch Thistle, Russian Knapweed are two of the main concerns in the battle against noxious weeds. Efforts are also being made on Russian olive in the East Fork of the Virgin River through Long Valley. Continue to support the local CWMA efforts and act as the county’s weed board. Watershed Health: The conservation district will continue to support efforts to get the Upper Kanab Creek Watershed Project under- way. The majority of the project proposed on BLM and Grand Staircase National Monument lands. Special inter- est groups have recently publicly objected to the project and put a hold on watershed enhancement efforts. Work with local, state, and national elected leaders to show scope and importance of project. This project proposes to treat thousands of acres of pinion pine and juniper trees and decadent sage brush stands to improve watershed health, wildlife habitat and im- proved grazing land for livestock. Russian knapweed Wildlife Management: One of the main concerns in the is increasing numbers of elk on the Paunsagaunt Plateau area. Better elk management is needed on the forest and adjacent lands. Efforts are also being made to improve habitat for sage-grouse in northern part of the county. Sage-grouse in Kane County are considered to be the most southerly population in the western United States.36
  • 41. M ILLARDImprove Water Quantity, Quality & Irrigation Efficiency:The Millard Conservation District (CD) depends on spring snow melt run-off and wells for its agricultur-al and municipal water. Delta is the last user of Sevier River water, so having enough water is always aconcern. The soil and water are both high in salts, so water quality is an issue. Concrete ditch lining andland leveling have proven to be the best management practice to improve irrigation efficiency in DeltaCD. The major distribution canals need to be lined to further increase irrigation water efficiency. TheMillard District has few live streams, natural lakes, or reservoirs. Therefore any new projects that willincrease, conserve, or protect water are the highest priority of the District. Federal, State and Local pro-grams to assist in these projects are crucial in meeting these needs.Control and/or Eradicate Invasive Plants Including Weeds: Cheatgrass, and Russian olive are the highest priority invasive weeds throughout the county. The negative impact of tamarisk on farmland and habitat is being ameliorated by the use of the tamarisk beetle, but efforts need to continue. Although not a weed, the alfalfa stem nematode is having a serious negative impact on hay production. Effective control of this plant needs to be developed and implemented. Any projects to reseed rangeland, develop watering facilities and increase desirable forage for grazing by livestock and wildlife are high priorities for the Millard Conservation District. Controlling undesirable and noxious plants is important on cropland as well as rangeland. Invasive plants such as cheatgrass, sagebrush, mustard and knapweeds have few if any natural controllers. Their spread has degraded many thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and grazing land. Buffalo burr Millard County is a large producer of dairy quality alfalfa. In order to be marketable and profitable, alfalfa has to be free of weeds and pests. It is important that the large acreages of corn and small grains grown in the Millard District also be free of weeds and pests. Therefore, the use of the control methods listed above should be encouraged by pro-grams that provide funding and technical assistance and that are not excessively regulated. Effective pesticides should be used for control.Adequate Marketing for Agricultural Products:The Delta and Millard Conservation districts encourage the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, and Utah State University Extension to continue helpingwith this critical need.Prevent Loss of Open Space for Agricultural Lands:The Delta Conservation District encourages the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, and the Utah Association of Conservation Districts to increase theirassistance in keeping farmers informed about the Agrculture Protection Area Act, and other programs that preserve and maintain open space.Reduce the Erosion of Soil by Either Wind or Water:The soils in Millard County are particularly susceptible to wind erosion, therefore implementing best management practices dealing with irrigation, the controlof noxious weeds and invasive species, and re-vegetation of rangeland is needed to protect soils from erosion. Several state and federal funding mechanismswill be used. State of Utah Resource Assessment 37
  • 42. M ORGAN Impaired Waters: East Canyon Creek and East Canyon Reservoir have a combined Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirement under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. There have been improvement to the water quality since 2001. It was originally listed as not supporting its beneficial use for cold water species of game fish and other cold water aquatic life, including the necessary aquatic organisms in their food chain because of high phosphorous levels and low dissolved oxygen. Although the water bodies continue to be listed on the State’s 303(d) list for low dissolved oxygen and high phosphorous, improvements need to continue in order to further remedy the quality of these water bodies. Necessary improvements are restoration of riparian areas and wetlands in the watershed, and imple- mentation of BMPs for nonpoint source control on construction sites, recreational areas and agricultural land users. Water Quantity: Morgan County has undergone a major groundwater study to determine the amount of water available for future development. The results indicate that the Morgan Valley has adequate available water, but there is less recharge and less water available at higher elevations in the watershed. Pumping from the Weber River, along with the use of Weber Basin’s exchange water may make it possible to get water to higher elevations. However, this could be very expensive for anyone using the water and may not be economical for agricultural producers. It is critical to conserve the available water in Morgan County. Irrigation improvements and other conservation measures must continue on agricultural lands, as well as in commercial and residential areas, to economically stretch the limited supply. Noxious and Invasive Weeds: Both the railroad and Interstate 84 go through the county. These two corridors are continual sources of noxious and invasive weed intro- ductions. The corridors cover an immense amount of land that requires ongoing weed management. There are also significant infestations in construction sites, designated open space in developments, and in privately owned ranchettes. Weed seeds are often transported in the canals and waterways. These areas are not always adequately maintained and are problematic sources of weed infestations. The district and its partners have identified quack grass as the top weed of concern for crop land, musk thistle in waterways, and cheat- grass as the top concern on rangelands. Weeds with extensive distributions in the county include Canada thistle, musk thistle, cheatgrass, dyer’s woad, field bindweed and quack grass. High priority weeds that have small populations include dalmation toadflax, tamarisk, scotch thistle, leafy spurge and vipers bugloss. It is critical to keep potential invaders such as Russian olive and myrtle spurge out of the county. Agriculture Sustainability/Agriculture Land Preservation: St. John’s wort Morgan County is becoming highly urbanized. Much of the agricultural lands are being sold to development. Agricultural land is commonly worth more when developed than farmed. When farmers struggle to make a profit or there is no one to take over the business after retirement, the land is often sold to development. Once fertile soil is paved over, it is no longer available for production of the food and fiber that we all rely on. Morgan County has rich fertile soil. Unless conservation of this land is a priority and agriculture is profitable, it will be lost to development. Grazing Lands: Grazing Lands in Morgan County require proper management in order to maintain healthy and desirable carrying capacity. Issues on the grazing lands include overgrazing, erosion and weed infestations. Range improvements that include watering facilities and fencing to assist with rotational grazing, weed control and maintenance of desirable vegetation are required to increase range health.38
  • 43. P IUTE Improve Water Quantity, Quality, and Irrigation Efficiency: Although the Otter Creek and Piute Reservoirs are located in Piute County, only 800 acres around Kingston can be irrigated with any of the water stored in the reservois. The rest is allocated for use on Sevier County farms. None of the water from the Upper-Sevier watershed, which includes the Koosharem and Otter Creek Reservoirs and the flow of the Upper-Sevier River can be used by Piute County farmers. Only that water which enters the Sevier River between Panguitch and Circleville can be diverted for irrigation by farmers in the Circleville, and Junction areas. The farms in Marysvale are irrigat- ed from Bullion and Beaver creeks. The reservoirs usually do not contain enough water for the entire growing season. For these reasons programs that provide funding and technical assistance to improve water quantity and quality are crucial in Piute County.Control Invasive Plants and Weeds:The control of invasive species is a crucial part of improving the range resource. Invasivespecies are on the increase and are reducing the amount of forage available for livestock and wildlife. Monocultures of pinion pine and juniper trees, and sage- brush, lead to uncontrolled wildfire and increased soil erosion. Adequate Marketing for Agricultural Products: The Piute Conservation District encourages the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and Utah State University Extension to continue helping with this critical need. Prevent Loss of Open Space for Agricultural Lands: The Piute Conservation District encourages the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and the Utah Association of Conserva- Canada thistle tion Districts to increase their assistance to keep farmers informedabout the Agricultural Protection Area Act, and other programs that preserve and maintain open space.Reduce the Erosion of Soil by Either Wind or Water:The soils in Piute County are susceptible to wind and water erosion. The implementation of best management practices dealing with irrigation , the control ofnoxious weeds and invasive species, and re-vegetation of rangeland with the assistance of state and federal programs is needed to protect soils from erosion. State of Utah Resource Assessment
  • 44. R ICH Locally Important Farmland: Designation for locally important soils beyond prime and statewide soils is needed to recognize high local value of seasonally wet meadowland and soils that would be prime or statewide important if they were irrigated. Many irri- gated pastures and hay land have a historically and/or seasonally high water table. They do not qualify as prime or statewide important. Because of local value, these lands are proposed as locally important designation as long as they are irrigated. Also, the majority of potential prime and statewide im- portant soils do not have irrigation and therefore are not designated. These soils, however, are some of the most productive rangeland sites. Options are being considered and additional research is needed before proceeding on classifying these soils as locally important. Noxious Weeds: Many weeds can and do pose threat to Rich County resources. Perennial pepperweed, musk thistle and Canada thistle are among the most serious threats, particularly along waterways. The county has a weed control program that employs one person. It is difficult for a single person to effectively treat the entire county because of the short time window in which treatment is effective. More resources and a targeted approach are needed to combat invasions. Irrigation Canals: Recent Utah legislation has focused attention on the risk and importance of canals. Rich County canals are generally considered in good condition with few potential hazards. Aging infrastructure and recreational development in the Bear Lake Valley increases liability to these vital utilities. Canals and ditches can also potentially receive and transport nonpoint source pollution from agriculture fields, animal feeding operations, and storm water runoff from roads and mu- nicipal uses. Improvements in irrigation systems and water management will increase the efficiency of water delivery, especially helpful in drought years. Grazing Land: Ranching is the most common economic activity in Rich County. The Rich County consolidated grazing project proposes to make compre- hensive changes in management west of Randolph between Woodruff and Sage Junction. The project’s management plan uses cattle and sheep grazing to pro- vide maintenance on a large landscape or watershed area. The cooperation of ranchers, land managers, and other interests is critical to the health and sustainability of public and private rangelands in Rich County and the rural economy. With water quality also being a concern, changing livestock management will provide the greatest water quality improvement at the lowest cost. This pro- ject should help balance economic and ecological demands in the county. Sage-Grouse Habitat: Rich County is rich in sage-grouse habitat and has strong populations. There are eight lek complexes in Rich County with a total of forty-six active and historic lek sites. Con- sidering the risk of listing as an endangered species, improving habitat remains a top priority. Private landowners and public land agency managers have been proactive in response to petitions for listing sage-grouse as an endangered species. The county has coordinated their efforts through the Rich County Coordinated Resource Management Plan and the Rich County Sage Grouse Working Group. Private landowners’ interests should be considered because listing of the greater sage-grouse would have significant social and economic impacts. Perennial pepperweed40
  • 45. S ALT L AKEWater Quantity:In Sale Lake County, ten major drainages originate from the Wasatch Mountains and ten drainages originate from the Oquirrh Mountains, ranging in sizefrom less than three miles to 44 miles in length. These streams are identified as Countywide Facilities for flood control purposes and are often used to conveystorm water discharge to either the Jordan River or the Great Salt Lake. Increased population will likely result in a loss of open space, as well as an increasein impervious surfaces, resulting in an increase in storm water runoff, stream bank erosion, channel widening, and habitat loss. In Salt Lake County, the hy-drology of the streams is dominated by snowmelt, with high flows occurring from April through July. The Jordan River Watershed is a closed basin thatdrains a total area of approximately 805 square miles (515,200 acres). The watershed is bounded on the east by the Wasatch Mountains, on the west by theOquirrh Mountains, and on the south by the Traverse Range. The Great Salt Lake is the eventual recipient of water in the north-flowing Jordan River. Sevenmajor tributary streams feed into the river as it flows north to the Great Salt Lake. (http://www.waterresources.slco.org/pdf/WaQSPexSumm080803.pdf)Water Quality:Water Quality in the Salt Lake Countywide Watershed can be improved by reducing pollutant loads sufficient to support aquatic habitat, water supply andsocial functions. Some of the current issues in the Wasatch Mountains include: sanitation, transportation and protection of critical watershed lands. On theother hand, the land in the Oquirrh Mountains is currently transitioning from mining to urban development. Consequently, watershed protection strategies arenot as developed as they are in the Wasatch Mountains.Noxious and Invasive Weeds:The state of Utah maintains a noxious weed list that includes 27 weeds. In addition to this list, Salt Lake County has adopted two additionalweeds as county noxious weeds. When it comes to the biggest weed offenders in Salt Lake County, yellow starthistle is a top concern. Amajority of available resources goes towards control. Additional high priority weeds are myrtle spurge, Dalmatian toad flax, leafy spurge,field bindweed, whitetop and Russian olive. County noxious weed mapping with the use of GPS and GIS is a work in progress. When deal-ing with noxious weeds, prevention of an outbreak is the highest priority. Early detection of new weeds allows for quicker suppression.Loss of Agricultural Lands:A longstanding, ongoing concern is the loss of agricultural lands, including prime farmland, as development is necessitated with ever rising Yellow starthistlepopulations. Rapid development sometimes overlooks potential mass movement, or other geologic concerns. This growth continues to putdemands on local water quantity and quality listed above. And unfortunately, farm ground purchased for future development is frequentlyleft unused. Additionally, future transportation needs and necessary expansion will likely further impact the future of open spaces. One possible solution tothe diminishing open spaces, the Urban Farming Initiative, enacted by Salt Lake County in 2009, works toward preserving agricultural land for future genera-tions. This initiative states that “publicly owned lands that are currently lying fallow will be considered for lease for the purposes of growing fruits and vege-tables.”Air Quality:Salt Lake County frequently suffers from poor air quality, especially during mid-winter months, when strong areas of high pressure situate themselves overthe Great Salt Lake Basin, leading to strong temperature inversions. An inversion occurs when cold air and pollution are trapped underneath a layer of warmair, effectively placing a cap on everything in and below the basin, including pollutants suspended in the air. This series of events leads to air stagnation and athick smog covering the valley that lasts from several days to weeks at a time. The result is often the worst air pollution levels in the United States, reducingair quality to unhealthy levels. Air pollution obstruct a citizen’s ability to enjoy the numerous outdoor activities offered in Salt Lake County and cause healthcomplications. Salt Lake County has partnered with various organizations to implement several environmental programs to reduce pollution, thus mitigatingthe impact of inevitable inversions. State of Utah Resource Assessment 41
  • 46. S AN J UAN Soil Conservation: Soil is one of the most valuable resources in San Juan County for many reasons. One major reason is the county’s many dryland farms. Since healthy topsoil is critical to sustainable dryland farming, its preservation is generally considered the most important long-term goal of a dryland farming operation. Soil conservation is also a priority concern because of the importance of maintaining healthy forests and rangeland in the county. Water Conservation, Storage, and Delivery: Water conservation is a priority concern for San Juan County because water supplies are very lim- ited. Proper management and conservation of water resources are essential. Sustainable Agriculture: Sustainable agriculture can have numerous goals and facets, but it ultimately strives to bring in- creased profits, sound stewardship of the air, water and soil, and improved quality of life for farm- ing communities. Because of the important role of agriculture in San Juan County’s economy, land health, and way of life, sustainable agriculture is a priority concern. Wildlife Management: San Juan Conservation District and partners recognize the need for improved management of wildlife and habitat to minimize negative impacts and maximize positive impacts to both private and public lands. The San Juan Conservation District is currently working with the Monticello/Dove Creek Gunnison Sage-Grouse Local Working Group and has met with the Division of Wildlife Resources officials in efforts to aid in preservation of the species and its habitat. Ongoing cooperative efforts are essential in merely maintaining current populations. Alternative Energy and Energy Development: San Juan County has an abundance of potential wind, solar, and oil seed energy opportunities, as well as resources for conventional (oil, natural gas, etc.) ener- gy development. Benefits to be realized by the devel- opment of such resources include job creation, in- creased tax revenues which benefit schools, and over- all improvement of the local economy. Camel thorn42
  • 47. S AN PETEImprove Water Quantity, Quality, and Irrigation Efficiency:The Sanpete District only has three reservoirs of appreciable size: Fairview, Twelve Mile and Gunnison Reservoirs. The majority of the district’s farm & pas- ture land is irrigated by diversions out of the San Pitch River and smaller tributaries. Once the spring run-off is over, there is usually not enough water to irrigate through the entire growing season. The farmers have improved their irrigation efficiency by installing sprinkler systems of various kinds, but there is still a critical need for improved irrigation and water transmission systems. Many turkeys are produced in animal feeding operations, (AFO’s), in Sanpete County. The manure from these AFO’s poses a water quality concern. A water quality plan has been developed for the San Pitch River water- shed and federal, state, local and private funding is being used to reduce non-point source pollution from AFO’s, and soil erosion. These efforts need to continue to implement the best management prac- tices identified in the plan. Improve Rangelands: Brush and invasive species control and the re-seeding of more productive species are needed to improve the district’s rangeland conditions. The implementation of watering facilities is needed to improve wildlife habitat and make managed grazing systems possible.Control Invasive Plants and Weeds:The control of invasive species is a crucial part of improving the range resource. Invasive species are on the increase and are reducing the amount of forageavailable for livestock and wildlife. Monocultures of these species such as pinion pine and juniper trees and sagebrush lead to uncontrolled wildfire and in-creased soil erosion.Prevent Loss of Open Space for Agricultural Lands:The Sanpete Conservation District encourages the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and the Utah Association ofConservation Districts to increase their assistance in keeping farmers informed about the Agriculture Protection Area Act,and other programs that preserve and maintain open space.Reduce the Erosion of Soil by Either Wind or Water:The soils in the Sanpete District are susceptible to wind & water erosion. The implementation of best management practic-es that deal with irrigation and re-vegetation of rangeland using federal and state programs are needed to protect soils fromerosion. Black henbaneAdequate Marketing for Agricultural Products:The Sanpete Conservation District encourages the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and Utah State University Extension to continue helping with thiscritical need.Sustain Viable Agriculture:Sustaining viable agriculture is a complex issue involving the wise use and stewardship of the soil, water, air, plants, animals resources and the ingenuity, labor,and ethics of the people. Every program that increases knowledge, supports the wise use of natural resources and the unity and focus of people’s efforts isneeded to sustain agriculture in the harsh environment of south-central Utah. State of Utah Resource Assessment 43
  • 48. S EVIER Improve Water Quantity, Quality and Irrigation Efficiency: The Fremont River Conservation District includes all of the Fremont River watershed and most of the Otter Creek watershed. Both watersheds are in an area of high mountain desert where drought is common. Therefore water quantity for irrigation, livestock watering and riparian area maintenance is a crucial need. The Fremont River appears on the Utah 303(d) list of impaired watersheds for lack of dissolved oxygen and contributes salini- ty to the Colorado River. These water quality issues can be ameliorated with funding and technical assistance programs that install best management practices (BMP’s), to improve irrigation efficiency, vegetative manage- ment and stream-bank stabilization. Improve Rangelands: Brush and invasive species control and the re-seeding of more productive species are needed to improve the dis- trict’s rangeland conditions. The implementation of watering facilities is needed to improve wildlife habitat and make managed grazing systems possible. Control Invasive Plants and Weeds: The control of invasive species is a crucial part of improving the range resource. Invasive species are on the increase and are reducing the amount of forage available for livestock and wildlife. Monocultures of these species such as pinion pine and juniper trees, and sage brush lead to uncontrolled wildfire and in- creased soil erosion. Although not a weed, the bark beetle is killing many of the forests in the district, leaving them prone to wildfire. The district suggests that the Forest Service offer timber sales of affected trees to local lumber companies to remove this pest from the forest resource. Adequate Marketing for Agricultural Products: The Fremont River Conservation Districts encourages the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, and Utah State Univer- sity Extension to continue helping with this critical need. Prevent Loss of Open Space for Agricultural Lands: The Fremont River Conservation District encourages the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, and the Utah Association of Conservation Districts to increase their assistance in keeping farmers informed about the Agriculture Protection Area Act, and other programs that preserve and maintain open space. Reduce the Erosion of Soil by Either Wind or Water: The implementation of BMPs dealing with irrigation and re- vegetation of rangeland using state and federal programs is needed to protect soils from erosion. Curly dock44
  • 49. S UMMIT Noxious and Invasive Weeds:  Weeds of concern include the thistle, dyers woad leafy spurge, dandeli- ons, and white top.  The County hires a weed coordinator to treat areas of concern on county and private land.  Publicly owned lands have limited resources.  Absentee landowners are not addressing their weed problems.  More education about how weeds spread. Leafy spurge  The CWMA needs to be strengthenedWater Quality and Water Conservation: Nutrients from agriculture return flows impair Weber River and Reservoirs. Livestock grazing along riparian corridors contribute nutrients and sediment. Streambank erosion during spring runoff. Urban Runoff from streets and development. Golf courses -consider impact on water quality. Efficient irrigation systems to conserve water – Hoytsville pressurized system. Wildlife and Aquatic Habit:  Too many elk. Include elk in grazing plans. Wolves have been spotted.  Wildlife and urban interface creates a conflict.  Provide better sage-grouse habitat.  Forage on range, pasture and haylands are impacted by wildlife. Range and Forest Health:  Range management needs a mosaic of shrubs, forbs and grasses to maximize productivity.  Increased percentages of evergreens have diminished forage production.  On private forest land, owners are not managing the land for timber production.  Soil erosion and lack of natural resource protection are concerns.  Noxious weeds are spreading to these areas.  Forest health is declining – bark beetle infestations.  Sediment in streams coming from eroded rangeland.Small Acreage Agriculture: Farm size decreases as population increases. Huge acres are being subdivided into 5-acre parcels. Urbanization surrounds farmland. Scenic farmland is an asset residents want. Part-time farms are less likely to adopt conservation practices due to cost and inability to compete for conservation dollars. The price of land does not justify farming. Encourage young farmers State of Utah Resource Assessment 45
  • 50. T OOELE Noxious Weeds: Noxious weeds in Tooele County, tend to be concentrated near roads, rail, recreational trails, and grazing areas. There are 27 noxious weeds on the county’s list. White top and scotch thistle have the largest presence. Yellow toadflax is also prevalent in the county. Education programs, as well as regular weed mapping help the county monitor noxious weeds from year to year. Water Quantity: Tooele Valley is bound by the crest of the Stansbury Mountains on the west, the Great Salt Lake on the north, Tooele/Salt Lake County line on the east and the drainage divide between Rush Valley and Tooele Valley on the south. This region contains about 113,000 acres of water. Rush Valley is bound by the Sheeprock Mountains in the south, the Tintic Mountains to the southeast, the Oquirrh Mountains to the east, South Mountain to the north, the Stansbury Mountains to the northwest, and the Onaqui Mountains to the west. This diverse assemblage of mountain ranges produces runoff, but the valley is so wide and dry that streams disappear short- ly after they enter the Valley. In the West Desert Basin, ground water accounts for 100 percent of the municipal, industrial and agri- Yellow toadflax cultural water supply. The area is experiencing rapid suburban development and as new municipal water sources are developed, new stresses to the groundwater system are created. Ground water is the sole source of drinking water in Tooele Valley. Ground water within the basin generally moves from the mountains toward the central and northern areas of Tooele Valley. Irrigation water is typically diverted from mountain streams at or above the mouth of the canyon. The quality of water from these streams is generally high. The one exception is Deep Creek (Curlew Valley) because much of the flow is return flow from agricultural use. Rangeland Health: Drought and poor range condition can reduce the number and health of livestock in the county. Recreational Impacts to Public and Private Land: Tooele County has become well known for its exceptional recreational opportunities. The BLM, Forest Service and State Parks provide land for numerous ac- tivities. Recreation is welcomed by the county for its boost to the tourism industry. Increased recreation has also proved to be a burden on private land owners who have noted an increase in vandalism and trespassing on their land. Impacts to the county’s natural resources are the most concerning side effects of in- creased recreation. Irresponsible OHV riders, as well as a general increase in ridership has affected sensitive wildlife habitat, contributed to non-point source pollution, increased erosion and the spread of noxious weeds. Agricultural Land Preservation: Agricultural land uses occur throughout the county. Small, isolated farms are located in the Ibapah-Gold Hill and I-80 planning areas. Greater concentrations of agricultural land uses occur in Skull, Rush and Tooele Valleys. Agricultural land use has historically played an important role in the economy and culture of the county, and will continue to play a prominent role. Water availability is the limiting factor for agriculture in the region, but supplies are currently efficient in the county’s agriculturally dense areas. In more re- mote areas such as Ibapah, the smaller water resources are generally available to agriculture. In the future, however, new growth and different land uses will compete for available water and lands. Despite this likely future transition in land use and water supply, the county should continue to support agriculture and protect prime agriculture lands as the county grows. In addition to serving as a unique part of the local economy and culture, agricultural lands serve as ground water aquifer recharge zones, which are critical to meeting the needs of a growing population. Agricultural protection areas are tools for ensuring protection of aquifer recharge zones. (http://www.tooeleeconomicdevelopment.com/PDF/TooeleCountyEDev060410.pdf)46
  • 51. U INTAHWater Quality and Quantity:Water is considered the blood of the Uintah Basin. The majority of Uintah County water supply comes from the Uintah Mountains, with the Forest Serviceoverseeing this federal land. Agriculture, residential, industrial, and recreational users utilize this life-sustaining resource. The top priority concern of the countyis the maintenance and enhancement of the water storage and delivery systems within the county. The salinity control program continues to be an importantconservation program that enhances and conserves water. Surface and Mineral Rights: The boom and bust cycle of the Uintah Basin for the last 50 years is based on the oil and gas extraction industries. These industries have proven critical to the economy of the Uintah Basin. Because of the importance of this industry in the Basin, all aspects of the economy are impacted by these extraction industries. It is important for the county to ensure that the stability and soundness of the extraction industries are doing well. There are many challenges facing these industries that need to be identified and addressed for the Basin. More cooperation is essential to this important resource. Weeds and Riparian Health: The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food defines a noxious weed as “Any plant the commissioner (Commissioner of Agricul- ture) determines to be especially injurious to public health, crops, livestock, land, or other property.” Most noxious weeds are non- native plants that have been intentionally or accidentally introduced into the United States. Some of the main problems caused by noxious weeds are; reducing crop yields, reducing livestock forage, limiting recreational opportunities, reducing wildlife habitat, displacing native vegetation, increasing soil erosion, and altering soil and water quality.Pasture and Rangelands:Agriculture production is based mainly on the rearing of livestock, pasture, hayland, and rangeland to support the livestock indus-try. As part of the livestock industry the use of pastures and rangelands are an important tool used in this area. Pasture and range-land health is key to long-term watershed health and profitability. Drought years limit the irrigation water needed for good planthealth. Since becoming a salinity area with funding for improved irrigation systems and pipelines, yields have increased andmanagement practices have improved.Air Quality:During the winter of 2009-10 in the Uinta Basin, limited air quality monitoring revealed periods of elevated daytime ozone con-centrations exceeding the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. Although the Uinta Basin 2009-10winter measurements were not made at regulatory stations, the results raised concerns regarding the winter ozone levels in theregion. Of particular concern was the potential impact these ozone levels might have on the health of Uinta Basin residents. Con-cern was also expressed that a failure to meet EPA standards for ozone levels could result in a nonattainment designation for Uin-ta Basin’s counties, a consequence that could severely impact the economy of eastern Utah and the state as a whole.The results of the Basin-wide winter ozone study showed elevated wintertime ozone concentrations throughout most of the UintaBasin during wintertime temperature inversion events. Results also showed that the lower elevation monitoring locations with the Spotted knapweedgreatest number of nearby wells tended to have the highest ozone concentrations and the greatest number of dangerous samples.Locations at higher elevations, approximately 5500-6000 ft above sea level, had relatively few dangerous samples despite beingnear significant numbers of oil and gas wells. State of Utah Resource Assessment 47
  • 52. U TAH Noxious and Invasive weeds:  Weeds of concern include thistle, knapweed, field bind weed, phragmites, and tamarisk.  The county treats areas of concern on county and private land, but not on federal land.  Absentee landowners are not addressing weed problems.  Some five acre parcels in the county are not maintained.  Weeds spread due to lack of preventative measures.  More education is needed to control spread of weeds. Water Quality and Water Conservation:  Nutrients from agriculture return flows need to be addressed.  Consider the TMDL impairments for Utah Lake.  Livestock grazing along riparian corridors contribute nutrients and sediment.  Stream bank erosion during spring runoff.  Urban runoff from streets and development.  Use irrigation efficiencies to conserve water in the county.  Inadequate maintenance of streams to convey flood water. Sustainable Agriculture:  Protect the fruit farms in the south portion of Utah County.  Farm size decreases as population increases.  Urbanization surrounds farmland.  The price of land does not justify farming.  Need new strategies to market agriculture in a shrinking agriculture population.  There is no incentive to farm when land prices are so high.  Support agriculture protection areas. Wildlife and Aquatic Habitat:  Identify areas for sage-grouse habitat.  Winter range for big game is declining – less deer.  Coordinate better with state and federal partners.  Forage on range, pasture and haylands are impacted by wildlife.  Wildlife and urban interface creates a conflict. Urban and Rural Conflicts:  Coordinate better with cities and county.  Recreation on private lands.  Weeds on small parcels of land, spreading to farm land. Diffuse Knapweed  Transportation corridors intersect farmland.  New homes built in historic agriculture areas are not aware of agriculture production practices – noises, odors, manure, flies, etc.48
  • 53. W AS ATCH Noxious and Invasive weeds:  Weeds of concern include thistle, leafy spurge, toadflax and knapweed.  The county treats areas of concern on county and private land, but not on federal land.  Absentee landowners are not addressing weed problems.  Weeds spread due to lack of preventative measures.  Visitor use in the recreational areas compounds the spread of weeds.  New development not controlling weeds Water Quality and Water Conservation:  Focus on watershed health for Deer Creek, Jordanelle, and Strawberry reservoirs.  Nutrients from agriculture return flows impair Provo River and reservoirs.  Livestock and wildlife grazing along riparian corridors contribute nutrients and sediment.  Stream bank erosion during spring runoff.  Urban runoff from streets and development.  The Wasatch County water efficiency project has done much to conserve water.  However, it will always be necessary to conserve water in the county.Small Acreage Agriculture: Farm size decreases as population increases. Urbanization surrounds farmland. Scenic farmland is an asset residents want. The price of land does not justify farming. County fence-in fence-out rule Need new strategies to market agriculture. There is no incentive to farm when land prices are so high. Small acreage is difficult to farm and sustain.Wildlife Habitat: Sage-grouse a priority species in Strawberry Valley and Wallsburg – need variegated new growth. Winter range is declining. Forage on range, pasture and haylands are impacted by wildlife. The county is a wildlife corridor for elk and deer along the Provo River. Wildlife and urban interface creates a conflict.Forest Health: Heber City is a “Tree City”. Dalmation toadflax Declining aspen forests. Soil erosion and lack of natural resource protection are concerns. Noxious weeds are spreading to these areas. Forest health is declining – bark beetles are killing trees. State of Utah Resource Assessment 49
  • 54. W ASHINGTON Water Quality/Quantity: Due to topography of the county, major flooding can occur as a result of high snow pack years and in heavy rain storm events. Much work was done in 2005 with EWP projects along the Santa Clara and Virgin Rivers to mitigate future flood damage. More work needs to be done in many of the county’s uplands and upper water- shed areas in regard to monocultures of pinion pine and juniper trees, and Sagebrush to hold soil and lessen erosion from flooding events. Continue to work with producers to improve irrigation systems to help prevent excessive runoff from fields. Some canal projects still need to be completed so landowners can improve their on-farm systems. More storage is needed in the county to contain available snow melt moisture. Rangeland Health: Wind erosion is a concern on cropland and non-irrigated cropland in the Enterprise, New Harmony and Smith’s Mesa areas. Poor vegetation on rangelands creates erosion and gully/wash formations in many parts of the county. There are excess wild horse numbers in the western part of the county and issue with maintaining healthy range carrying capacities. Continue to work with producers to promote better grazing management of livestock, and promote managing excessive numbers of elk in parts of the county. Continue to support and plan for rangeland restoration projects with local Southern Region UPC&D partnership. Watershed Level Health/Planning: Work with conservation partners, local, state, and federal agencies in coordinated resource management planning on critical sub-watershed improvements. Support Virgin River Watershed Planning and project efforts. Coordinate efforts with landowners/permittees with state and federal funding sources for wa- tershed restoration projects. Threat of endangered fish species can impact agriculture and local economy if federal restrictions are implemented. Noxious Weeds/Invasive Species/Pests: Invasive plants such as white top, scotch thistle, sulfur cinquefoil, yellow starthistle, leafy spurge, spotted knapweed, tamarisk and Russian olive are negatively impacting land in the county. Continue to support the newly restored county cooperative weed management area group and the county’s weed board in securing weed grants and funding through the county. Work with landowners and communities in noxious weed information/education and promote mitigation of noxious weeds through conservation planning. Urban Interface Issues/Loss of Open Space, Agriculture: Several communities and subdivisions are developing in dense stands of pinion pine and juniper trees, forests north central part of the county. This creates wildfire hazards and wildlife habitat issues for homeowners. Education is need- ed for those communities in fire protection techniques, etc. Sustainable and locally important farmlands in the county are rapidly being replaced with subdivisions and blacktop. Continue to educate municipalities and landowners of the importance of agriculture and open space for the quality of life in Washington County. Educate landowners about county’s agriculture protection area ordinance and promote its use in county’s and municipalities remaining agriculture areas. Increase support of urban farming, agri-tourism ventures, and small pasture improvement and viability. Silverleaf nightshade50
  • 55. W AYNE Improve Water Quantity, Quality and irrigation Efficiency: The Fremont River Conservation District includes all of the Fremont River watershed and most of the Otter Creek watershed. Both watersheds are in an area of high mountain desert where drought is common. Therefore water quantity for irrigation, livestock watering and riparian area maintenance is a crucial need. The Fremont River is listed on the Utah 303(d) list of impaired watersheds for lack of dissolved oxygen, it also contributes salts to the Colorado River. These water quality issues can be ameliorated with funding and technical assistance programs that install Best Management Practices, (BMP’s), to improve irrigation efficiency, vegetative management and stream bank stabilization. Improve Rangelands: Brush and invasive species control and the re-seeding of more productive species are needed to improve the district’s rangeland conditions. The implementation of watering facilities is needed to improve wildlife habitat and make managed grazing systems possible.Control Invasive Plants and Weeds:The control of invasive species is a crucial part of improving the range resource. Invasive species are on the increase and are reducing the amount of forageavailable for livestock and wildlife. Monocultures of these species such as pinion pine and juniper trees, and sage brush, lead to uncontrolled wildfire andincreased soil erosion. Although not a weed, the bark beetle is killing many of the forests in the district, leaving them prone to wildfire. The district suggeststhat the Forest Service offer timber sales of affected trees to local lumber companies to remove this pest from the forest resource.Adequate Marketing for Agricultural Products:The Fremont River Conservation District encourages the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and Utah State Universi-ty Extension to continue helping with this critical need.Prevent Loss of Open Space for Agricultural Lands:The Fremont River Conservation District encourages Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and the Utah Association ofConservation Districts to increase their assistance in keeping farmers informed about the Ag. Protection Area Act, and otherprograms that preserve and maintain open space.Reduce the Erosion of Soil by Either Wind or WaterThe implementation of BMPs dealing with irrigation and re-vegetation of rangeland using state and federal programs isneeded to protect soils from erosion. Halogeton State of Utah Resource Assessment 51
  • 56. W EBER Water Quantity, Quantity and Irrigation Infrastructure: Agriculture in Weber County is dependent upon affordable water and an efficient irrigation delivery system. There is a limited supply of water in the county and irrigation improvements and other conservation measures continue to be needed on agricultural lands, as well as in commercial and residential areas, to efficiently utilize the supply available. Urban encroachment has brought many problems for the canal systems in the county including: subdivisions being built over existing pipes and field drains, unauthorized digging, low water in canals, increased liability, blocked access to easements, flooding, flood ditch issues and high water pricing. In many areas it can introduce storm water and pollution into the irrigation infrastructure. Unauthorized storm drain discharge increases the stress on the already dilapidating systems and is a major source of irrigation water pollution. Contaminants such as oil, fertilizer, chemicals and other debris from urban areas enter the storm drain systems that empty into the irrigation water. These pollutants are extremely problematic to farmers who are working to comply with food safety and water quality regulations. A large portion of the county’s canals are poorly maintained and in critical need of repair. Many canal companies cannot afford to make major improvements and are forced to upgrade the systems only after a major problem occurs. Current funding programs are inadequate for dealing with the magnitude of canal improvements needed. They have strict limitations and are not set up in a way that is practical. Noxious and Invasive Weeds: Noxious and invasive weed infestations tend to be concentrated near roads, highway corridors, railroad lines, recreational trails, grazing areas, along canals, dormant and stalled construction sites, fence lines, and in privately owned ranchettes. Weeds seeds are often transported in the ca- nals and waterways. These areas are not always adequately maintained and are sources of weed infestations. The district and its partners have identified yellow nutsedge as the top weed of concern for crop land, phragmites in waterways, and leafy spurge as the top concern on rangelands. Weeds with extensive distributions in the county are cheatgrass, dyer’s woad, field bindweed, hoary cress, jointed goatgrass, kochia and phrag- mites. High priority weeds that have small populations include black henbane, dalmatian toadflax, goatsrue, Japanese knotweed, leafy spurge, medusahead rye, purple loosestrife, Scotch thistle, St. Johns wort, silver nightshade, tamarisk, yellow nutsedge, and yellow star thistle. Agriculture Sustainability and Agriculture Land Preservation: Weber County still has a thriving agricultural community. However, it has become highly urbanized and development is expected to continue. The best soil and agricultural lands are continually being taken out of production. The primary cause of the decline is urban encroachment. Other contributing factors include: increased land values, aging farmers, high production costs, invasive weeds and increased government regulations. When farmers are not profitable, or able to run their businesses, they are often forced to sell for development. Once land is developed, the benefit it once provided is lost. Purple loosestrife Once fertile soil is paved over, it is no longer available for production of the food and fiber that we all rely on. Weber County has rich, fertile soil, and unless conservation of this land is a priority and agriculture is profitable, it will be lost to development. This is a national issue that is of great concern because we are losing the resources needed to produce agricultural products locally and the demand for imported food continues to increase. Air Quality: Weber County is designated as a nonattainment area for particulate matter (PM2.5). The county is considered an attainment area for carbon monoxide, lead, ozone and sulfur dioxide. The leading source of PM2.5 is combustion from vehicles. Other major contributors include refineries, construction and soot. Agri- cultural is among the minor contributors. Agricultural is source of PM2.5 in the county, but it is among the lower level contributors.52
  • 57. References and Appendices1. 2005 Utah Resource Assessmenthttp://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1408&context=govdocs2. County Resource Assessmentshttp://www.uacd.org/County%20Resource%20Assessments.html3. Natural Resources Conservation Service Natural Resource Inventory data tableshttp://www.ut.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/nri/datatables.html4. Natural Resources Conservation Service SNOTEL sites and datahttp://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snotel/Utah/utah.html5. State of Utah Water Quality Assessmentshttp://www.waterquality.utah.gov/WQAssess/index.htm6. The Utah Strategic Plan for Managing Noxious and Invasive Weedshttp://www.utahweed.org/PDF/strategic_plan.pdf7. Utah Association of Conservation Districts leadershiphttp://www.uacd.org/organization.html8. Utah Code 4-18, Utah Conservation Commission Acthttp://le.utah.gov/~code/TITLE04/04_18.htm9. Utah Code 17d-3, Conservation District Acthttp://www.le.utah.gov/UtahCode/section.jsp?code=17D-3 State of Utah Resource Assessment 53

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