Trail Mountain Ignition Slash Lines
Project ID: 5462
Status: Completed
Fiscal Year: 2020
Submitted By: 1216
Project Manager: Nels Rasmussen
PM Agency: U.S. Forest Service
PM Office: Sanpete Ranger District
Lead: U.S. Forest Service
WRI Region: Southeastern
Trail Mountain is a landscape scale Aspen restoration project on the Manti-La Sal National Forest. This phase of the project is focusing on mechanical falling of trees to create slash lines in order to prescribe burn in the fall. Slash lines are created when hand crews fall trees in parallel lines (100' apart) which create dry ground fuels receptive to fire. This allows firing crews to prescribe burn mixed conifer under less hot and dry conditions and achieve successful results.
The Trail Mountain project is located on the Ferron/Price Ranger District of the Manti-La Sal National Forest approximately 7 miles northeast of Orangeville, UT in Township 16S Range 6E Sections 22, 27, 28, 33-35; Township 17S Range 6E Sections 2,-5, 8-11, 14-29, 32-35; Township 18S Range 6E Section 1-5, 11, and 12 of the Salt Lake Meridian. Project boundaries include Hwy 29, FS road 0040 and FS road 0014.
Project Need
Need For Project:
* A need to restore critical elk and deer range habitat and browse species by improving forage quality and quantity through introduction of a fire disturbance event. * Restore suitable Goshawk foraging habitat by creating a mosaic of open ground within forested areas. * Restore pollinator habitat by enhancing wildflower-rich foraging habitat through a fire disturbance event. * Regenerate declining aspen by introducing a fire disturbance event to cause mortality of encroaching conifers and stimulate root suckering of aspen clones. * Increase the resistance and resilience of watersheds and associated vegetation in the Trail Mountain landscape to climate-related stressors (drought, wildfire, insects, and disease). * Reduce the risk of stand-replacing fire and risk to life (fire fighters, recreationists, and permittees) and property in this area.
Conduct prescribed burning on approximately 2,000 acres within the Trail Mountain 17,743 project area. The burn would be implemented to enhance wildlife habitat, protect the watershed, and stimulate aspen regeneration in a mosaic pattern within the treatment units. Down and dead fuels would be reduced by an average of 50 percent (ranging 20 to 80 percent) over 50 to 80 percent of the treated acres. Following treatment the units will be monitored for aspen regeneration.
Project Location/Timing Justification (Why Here? Why Now?):
* Stands historically dominated by aspen are declining and are being dominated by late seral conifer trees (Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, and Douglas-fir). Aspen stands provide valuable biodiversity, wildlife habitat and forage, and resistance and resiliency to severe wildland fire. Unless the succession is set back to early seral (young) aspen stands and conifer tree competition is removed, some areas of aspen may be lost for wildlife & watershed benefit. * Dense conifer stands are susceptible to severe stand-replacing fire, particularly in conjunction with climate change (drought and increasing temperatures). This can impact watershed values, vegetative conditions, wildlife habitat, and other resource values if large stand replacing fire events occur. * Loss of aspen and increase in conifers in this landscape could result in loss of valuable nesting and forage habitat for northern goshawk, as well as habitat for elk, mule deer, and other species. Through prescribed burning, a mosaic of burn conditions will allow for greater biodiversity thus allowing for multiple species benefit. * In 2016 the Southeast Catastrophic fire committee has classified the Joe's Valley/Cottonwood Canyon as one of the top priority areas to focus efforts in addressing high fire risk and intensity. Joe's Valley/Cottonwood Canyon ranked high due to the potential impact to wildlife, municipal watershed, and homes in the area.
Relation To Management Plan:
MANTI-LA SAL NATIONAL FOREST LAND AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN (1986) * Provide an optimum cover:forage ratio for deer and elk habitat (III-19) * Maintain/improve habitat and habitat diversity for populations of existing wildlife species (III-22) * Maintain/improve habitat capability through direct treatment of vegetation (III-23) * Under a proactive approach, manage for diverse forest cover types with strong representation of early seral tree species DEER HERD UNIT MANAGEMENT PLAN Deer Herd Unit # 16 Central Mountains * Cooperate with land management agencies in carrying out habitat improvements such as controlled burns * Management efforts should focus on improving deer habitat and carrying capacity * Enhance forage production through direct range improvements throughout the unit on winter range to achieve population management objectives. * Provide improved habitat security and escapement opportunities for deer. * Provide a long-term continuing base of habitat quantity and quality sufficient to support the stated population objectives. STATEWIDE MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR MULE DEER (2008) * Initiate broad scale vegetative treatment projects to improve mule deer habitat with emphasis on drought or fire damaged sagebrush winter ranges, ranges that are being taken over by invasive annual grass species, and ranges being diminished by encroachment of conifers into sagebrush or aspen habitats. * Continue to support and provide leadership for the Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative, which emphasizes improving sagebrush-steppe, aspen, and riparian habitats across all landownerships. * Encourage land managers to manage portions of pinyon-juniper woodlands and aspen/conifer forests in early successional stages. UTAH DIVISION OF WILDLIFE RESOURCES STATEWIDE MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR MULE DEER * Maintain mule deer habitat throughout the state by protecting and enhancing existing crucial habitats and mitigating for losses due to natural and human impacts. * Work with land management agencies and private landowners to identify and properly manage crucial mule deer habitats, especially fawning and wintering areas. * Improve the quality and quantity of vegetation for mule deer on a minimum of 500,000 acres of crucial range by 2013. UTAH ELK STATEWIDE MANAGEMENT PLAN (2010) * Initiate broad scale vegetative treatment projects to improve elk habitat with emphasis on calving habitat and winter ranges * Encourage land managers to manage portions of forests in early succession stages through the use of controlled burning.
Fire / Fuels:
* The current condition of this vegetation type is conducive to intense stand replacing fires which presents a hazard to fire personnel, the private citizens, structures and infrastructure, as well as ecosystems and watersheds. * The current Fire Regime Group (FRG) is 5 (200+ year frequency and high (stand replacement severity) within the Aspen and Spruce/Fir stands and FRG 1 (0-35 year frequency and low to mixed severity with less than 75%of the dominant overstory vegetation replaced) within the Ponderosa Pine stands. * The current Fire Regime Condition Class is 3 high due to Spruce/fir encroachment and bug kill. Following treatment the FRCC would be converted back to a mosaic of Aspen and Ponderosa Pine stands and would be reduced to a combination of 2 Moderate and Low 1.
Water Quality/Quantity:
* Increase the resistance and resilience of watersheds and associated vegetation in the Trail Mountain landscape to climate-related stressors (drought, wildfire, insects, and disease).
* Archaeology, Archaeological surveys have been completed on the entire project area in 2016. * NEPA, The Categorical Exclusion (6) is anticipated to be signed in Spring of 2017.
Hand crews will create parallel slash lines on approximately 135 acres within a 2,000 acre burn unit. This increases the capability to burn mixed conifer under less than desirable conditions which are hot and dry when mixed conifer is typically burned. Prescribed burning will take place in the fall prior to a season ending event.
* Pre-treatment vegetation surveys were completed in 2016. * Post-treatment vegetation surveys will be conducted 1 and 5 years after treatment to identify results from the proposed action such as aspen recruitment, noxious weeds, and fence damage.
* In 2016 the Southeast Catastrophic fire committee has classified the Joe's Valley/Cottonwood Canyon as one of the top priority areas to focus efforts in addressing high fire risk and intensity. Partners on this committee included members of Federal and Utah State land agencies, Emergency Management coordinators for several counties, County Commissioners, and members of public. * Nearby private landowners in the Sportsman's, Reeder and Swasey subdivisions in conjunction with UT Forestry, Fire, and State Lands are involved with the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) process. * Coordinate with Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) to include burning operations adjacent to USFS lands. * In 2016 the project was presented to the SE UPCD committee in a field trip.
Future Management:
Fall 2020 - Prescribe burn approx. 2,000 acre unit in Trail canyon. Spring 2021 - Prescribe burn remaining units on top of Trail Mountain (approx. 800 acres)
Sustainable Uses of Natural Resources:
* Cattle grazing occurs on approximately 50 percent of the project area due to the lack of surface water. No grazing occurs on the remaining 50 percent of the project area due to vegetation. * Elk on the Manti are near objective. There are cow hunts annually to keep the elk population at objective. By creating more open forage areas, elk will be discouraged from congregating in and overusing the current limited areas. * Deer are under objective and increasing forage and habitat quality/quantity will allow for managers to reach objective on the Manti. * The area will continue to be managed under the Forest Plan for its wildlife, recreation, and watershed values, using adaptive management related to livestock and big game and hazardous fuels reduction. * We have observed increased use by mule deer and elk in winter months within days and weeks of treatment through prescribed burning.
Budget WRI/DWR Other Budget Total In-Kind Grand Total
$81,000.00 $5,685.00 $86,685.00 $0.00 $86,685.00
Item Description WRI Other In-Kind Year
Contractual Services Contract Services for approx. 130 acres slash lines $81,000.00 $5,685.00 $0.00 2021
Funding WRI/DWR Other Funding Total In-Kind Grand Total
$80,668.08 $0.00 $80,668.08 $354.96 $81,023.04
Source Phase Description Amount Other In-Kind Year
United States Forest Service (USFS) A116 Contract for Summit Forestry to lop and scatter of igntions lines on Trail Mtn. $42,693.08 $0.00 $0.00 2021
United States Forest Service (USFS) A116 contract to lop and scatter 155 acres on Trail Mtn. Awarded to 3b's Forestry through PO#2100000275. $37,975.00 $0.00 $0.00 2022
DWR-WRI Project Admin In-Kind $0.00 $0.00 $354.96 2023
Species "N" Rank HIG/F Rank
Elk R2
Threat Impact
Disease – Alien Organisms Low
Elk R2
Threat Impact
Improper Forest Management High
Elk R2
Threat Impact
Inappropriate Fire Frequency and Intensity High
Mule Deer R1
Threat Impact
Improper Forest Management High
Mule Deer R1
Threat Impact
Inappropriate Fire Frequency and Intensity High
Threat Impact
Improper Forest Management High
Threat Impact
Inappropriate Fire Frequency and Intensity Very High
Threat Impact
Problematic Insects – Native High
Mountain Shrub
Threat Impact
Inappropriate Fire Frequency and Intensity Low
Project Comments
Comment 05/12/2020 Type: 2 Commenter: Alison Whittaker
Nels - Is this going to be funded fully by USFS and DWR is doing the contracting? Is this going to be an FY20 project that you hope to have done my the end of June or is this an FY21 project. You have both years in there and so I wasn't sure. I am just wondering if I need to add this project to FY21 funded projects or if you were still trying to secure funds for this project. Thanks.
Comment 05/12/2020 Type: 2 Commenter: Russ Bigelow
Hi Alison, Nels is off today so I will answer. This is a fully funded USFS project with DWR doing the contracting. Already been working with Nicole and Daniel on capacity. This will be a FY20 project with the hope that all the work will be complete by end of June or 1st of August. If we run into issues such as availability of workforce due to Covid19, we can still go forward, will just have to move the burn date to the next spring or fall. Funding is secured, only thing we are waiting on is our Grants and Agreements people and their workload. Hopefully, we will see a final SPA sometime next week to sign. That answer all questions? Russ
Comment 05/12/2020 Type: 2 Commenter: Alison Whittaker
Yes it does. Thanks!!
Comment 08/24/2022 Type: 2 Commenter: Alison Whittaker
Thank you for submitting your completion form on time. Thanks for uploading pictures!
Start Date:
End Date:
FY Implemented:
Final Methods:
Utilized USFS funds to contract conifer hand thinning through WRI on Trail Mountain to facilitate future prescribed burning. $42,693.08 awarded to Summit Forestry for 134.4 acres of ignition lines (contract #702770). $37,975 awarded to 3B's Forestry for 155 acres of conifer hand thinning (PO # 2100000275)
Project Narrative:
Approximately 37 miles of 30 foot wide lines were cut through conifer stands on Trail Mountain totaling around 134.5 acres of treatment within the 687 acre footprint. Contract was for $42,693.08. These lines will be utilized to facilitate stand replacement prescribed burning of approximately 1000 acres of conifer for aspen regeneration. Remaining funds were utilized to lop and scatter small diameter conifer from approximately 155 acres of aspen stands on the south side of Trail Mountain. Contract was for $37,975. These areas will likely be burned using hand ignitions to provide more moderate intensity fire and allow these declining aspen stands to regenerate.
Future Management:
The USFS in collaboration with the DWR and SITLA will continue to carry out prescribed burning on the Trail Mountain project for aspen regeneration over the next several years.
Map Features
ID Feature Category Action Treatement/Type
9340 Terrestrial Treatment Area Vegetation removal / hand crew Lop (no scatter)
10570 Terrestrial Treatment Area Vegetation removal / hand crew Lop and scatter
Project Map
Project Map