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ACTION UPDATE: Projects of the High Uintas Preservation Council

The Flaming Gorge Ranger District (FGRD) is proposing to allow the Sheep Creek Irrigation Company (SCIC) to rehabilitate the Carter Creek Canal, owned/operated under a Special Use Permit by the SCIC, by using motorized equipment to strengthen the outside berm of the canal to reduce its potential for breaching. The canal is some 10 miles long and takes water from Carter Creek, Weyman and Beaver Creeks on the North Slope to Long Park Reservoir. The canal was built with heavy motorized equipment in 1954 and has breached a number of times, causing resource damage in various places.

The canal is actually inside the North Slope Roadless Area with road access to the canal on the North end of the canal. The Forest Service proposal is to access the canal by the existing road and use motorized equipment within the dry canal to strengthen the outside berm and remove trees from the outside berm to prevent damage to the canal. Upon completion, future inspection and maintenance would revert back to horse and foot inspections with the area closed to motorized vehicles.

There are a number of significant concerns with the proposal, but we are happy to see the Ashley National Forest being very sensitive to roadless issues by not allowing the canal to become a motorized access route and by restricting the SCIC to non-motorized inspection and future maintenance. Nonetheless, we are deeply concerned with proposals to permanently remove woody vegetation from the canal berms and the widening of the berm itself. Both will deteriorate roadless characteristics to some degree and the EA offers little evidence that removing trees will actually prevent any damage or leakage. In fact, the EA is unsure as to how significant the breaches and leakage have been and really show little difference between leaving the canal as is and reconstructing parts of it as proposed. You can get the Environmental Assessment by contacting the FGRD.

The same FGRD is proposing to allow the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to use the chemical rotenone and construct fish migration barriers in Mann Creek and the Upper reaches of Sheep Creek to remove non-native fish to be replaced by the native Colorado River Cutthroat Trout (CRCT), a Forest Service sensitive species that is proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

While the context of this proposal is meritorious, once again the Forest Service refuses to exert its authority to require a systematic and holistic review of fish stocking practices across the Uintas, particularly in the undeveloped portion and the formally designated High Uintas Wilderness, to assure a meaningful and full recovery of CRCT on the only streams where its survival is possible-- roadless and wilderness stream and stream segments (see HUPC LYNX, 1/97, 5/97, 8/97, 4/00, 6/00, 8/00). Without such a broad review, the piecemeal approach of a few streams here and there, over a few off and on years, may soothe the collective conscience of UDWR and the Forest Service, but will not assure the survival of one of the most threatened species in the West. You can get the Environmental Assessment by contacting the FGRD.

The Ashley National Forest has asked folks to contact them by 15 June to determine whether they would like a CD or hard copy of the upcoming Draft EIS for the High Uintas Wilderness Fox and Crescent Reservoirs Maintenance project (see HUPC LYNX, 3/97, 4/98, 4/99, 4/01, 8/01, 12/01.) The DEIS is scheduled for release sometime in July or August. We have warned the Forest Service that it is inappropriate to require people to contact them about receiving a NEPA document that they may have commented upon and that, in fact, to meet the intent of the law, all folks on the forest's NEPA mailing list must receive the appropriate public documents. But we do suggest that you contact the Forest Service and let them know you want to be notified of this DEIS. Either write them at the address in our Connections column, call (435) 781-5155, or email District Ranger Clark Tucker at cbtucker@fs.fed.us.

Dick Carter


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