Brian Head Fire rehabilitation begins

CEDAR CITY–The Dixie National Forest has begun the initial round of rehabilitation treatments of the Brian Head Fire burned area. The initial round of treatment of aerial seeding and mulching is 5,604 acres, with 1,037 acres of that total being treated by the Utah Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife Resources and Utah Forestry Fire State Lands. Furthermore, 1,339 acres of seeding and wheat straw mulching will take place in watersheds and roadwork treatments will soon begin.

On Aug. 17, the Dixie National Forest accepted delivery of 119,000 lbs. of sterile triticale seed. The seed is part of the Burned Area Emergency Response approved treatment plan. The triticale seed is a cross between wheat and rye and germinates quickly after it is applied and receives moisture. A fixed wing seeding plane began the aerial application and continued to seed until Aug. 25 to assist in reseeding 3,228 acres of the most susceptible areas for erosional loss.

On the same 3,228 acres, approximately 3,200 tons (7,600 large bales) of wheat straw (Utah State Approved Weed Free) was applied from helicopter nets to cover the soil surface. This treatment will continue into the middle of September with multiple helicopters applying straw mulch. This additional groundcover of straw increases the germination of the triticale seed and helps absorb rain drop impact and lessen water runoff potential.

The logistical portion of the rehabilitation operation will take over 100 semi-tractor loads of straw to various staging sites located on the Dixie National Forest. Each staging site will fluff and prepare the straw for maximum dispersion for helicopter netting. The straw transport and helicopter support crews will increase traffic on the Three Mile Road (Forest Road 083) and the Sidney Valley Road (Forest Road 048). Please use caution in these areas.

To protect essential Forest Service roads from expected high runoff from post fire rain events, roadwork treatments will begin soon, which will include increased culvert sizing and improved road drainage using a combination of contracts, county agreements and forest equipment. This is an ongoing process and will continue until late fall and then next spring/summer.

The State of Utah is treating 1,037 of the same treatments on private lands. These additional treatments have been coordinated with Utah Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife Resources and Utah Forestry Fire State Lands and will be awarded to contractors in late August.

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