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Watershed Restoration Initiative

The Watershed Restoration Initiative is a partnership-based program designed to improve high priority watersheds throughout Utah. Since 2006, WRI partners have completed nearly 1,500 projects, treating nearly 1.5 million acres statewide. Restoring watersheds protect and rehabilitate vital habitat for wildlife; reduces catastrophic wildfire risks in treated areas; increases water quality and quantity; increases forage for sustainable agriculture and provides economic benefits for local communities.

Maintaining a healthy watershed requires substantial strategic planning and cooperative effort. As of 2016, nearly 500 agencies, organizations and individuals have contributed to WRI projects by providing funding or in-kind assistance. Restored and rehabilitated acres are only made possible through a diverse partnership of state and federal government agencies working together with non-government organizations, industry, elected officials and private landowners.

Watershed Restoration Initiative before and after project photo

WRI is designed to improve landscapes throughout Utah by removing invasive species and replacing them with native grasses and shrubs.

Watershed Restoration Initiative before and after project photo

Benefits of WRI include improved water quality and yield, increased habitat for wildlife and decreased risk of catastrophic wildfire.

Multiplying Utah’s Investment

  • For every $1 spent by DNR on restoration, DNR leverages $5+ from contributing partners.
  • For every $1 spent by DNR on fire rehabilitation, DNR leverages $20+ from contributing partners.
  • Over 711,000 acres of Utah wildland has been restored since 2006. DNR has spent $18 million, while its partners have invested an additional $100 million.
  • Over 510,000 acres of Utah wildland has been restored following wildfire. DNR has spent about $1.6 million, while its partners have invested an additional $38 million.
  • Approved 2017 WRI Projects

    • DNR recently announced $34 million in funding for a record 208 wildland restoration and rehabilitation projects statewide.
    • Projects will improve over 280,000 acres of land and are scheduled for the 2017 fiscal year.
    • Over 100 state, federal and private sources contributed, including the Utah Legislature, Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resources Conservation Services, U.S. Forest Service, sportsmen groups, private land owners, oil and gas companies, private foundations and public land grazers.
    • Managing and restoring Utah’s watersheds is a critical responsibility, one we must embrace in order to preserve essential resources for future generations. Through strategic rehabilitation processes such as the reduction of invasive plant species, fire prevention and reseeding, restoring degraded stream systems and reversing aspen forest decline, WRI restores and prevents the destruction of our vital watersheds.

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