This project is designed to restore aspen across a large landscape to healthy, vigorous conditions, establish a multi-age class diversity; and improve both wildlife habitat and grazing conditions, and reduce hazardous fuels across the landscape by removing flammable conifer in aspen stands. A variety of tactical mechanical methods to treat conifer trees that are encroaching on and out-competing aspen stands. Mechanical treatments are completed with prescribed fire. The project goal is to treat 9,000 acres over 10 years.
Aspen is often classified a “keystone species” (Campbell and Bartos, 2001) and is often considered second to riparian and wetland communities as the most productive habitat for wildlife and plant diversity in the rocky mountain region (Kay, 1997). Increasing aspen stand vigor by reducing conifer dominance may improve habitat interspersion, ecological function, progress towards allotment and rangeland health objectives, and improve habitat for declining aspen-dependent species.
Conifer trees use more water through transpiration than aspen and have sparse undergrowth with relatively few species (Bartos and Campbell, 1998). Bartos and Campbell (1998) suggest this displacement could cause the annual forfeiture of 375,000 acre feet of water that would have been available for steam flow and annual loss of 750,000 tons of biomass production in the mountains of Utah. For every 1,000 acres of aspen dominated land that is converted to mixed-conifer, some 250 to 500 acre feet of water is transpired into the atmosphere and not available for stream flow. Subsequently, an estimated 500 to 1,000 tons of biomass is not produced (Bartos and Campbell, 1998). It could be concluded that by removing conifer from these Aspen stands more water would be made available to the ecosystem.
2007 - 470 acres treated.
2008 - 500 acres treated.
2009 - 660 acres treated.
2010 - 695 acres treated.