The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service are working with livestock operators on the Three Creeks Project in northern Utah. The project is an effort between federal agencies and locals to improve rangeland health for over 135,000 acres in Cache and Rich Counties.
Mellissa Wood, the Salt Lake City field manager for the BLM, said the Three Creeks Project will implement cattle and sheep grazing on designated areas of land for short amounts of time. The grazing allotments are designed to limit large amounts of fuel for wild fires and maintain plant and soil health.
“What that means for fuel loads is that it will be more patchy out on the landscape,” Wood said. “There will be some areas that will be grazed during the active growing season, some that are grazed after the dormant season when plants stop growing. There will be a mosaic across the landscape of different fuel levels that could change the way fire attacks the area.”
Sean Harwood, the Ogden District ranger with the Forest Service, said the Three Creeks Project had some environmental groups concerned about habitats for sage grouse.
“We actually have amendments to our forest plan that involves sage grouse and we’re following the standards and guidelines in those,” Harwood said.
The areas do contain sage grouse but their habitat conditions are healthy, according to Harwood. Deseret Land and Livestock implemented a similar plan and have seen improvements in land and habitat health.
“But any attempt we can take to improve is something that we look to,” Harwood said.
“This is a really wonderful area with sagebrush, with grasses, with streams running through it that have native fisheries like the native Bonneville cutthroat trout,” Wood said. “The proposal to implement this new grazing system will help out the user experience up there with hunting, with fishing, with recreation and it will improve the habitat for wildlife.”
Both Wood and Harwood said the Three Creeks Project is one of the first of its kind because multiple agencies are working together.