A Nov. 1 press release from the native revegetation nonprofit Rim to Rim Restoration said that four Utah Conservation Corps (UCC) chainsaw crews started work on Oct. 30 in “a dense block of ladder fuels along Pack Creek between Hunt Creek Drive and Arbor Drive where 40 structures and over 50 homes are immediately adjacent and over 100 homes are within a fire ember’s fall.”

The UCC will work from Oct. 30 through Nov. 7, and from Nov. 11 through Nov. 14, to remove Russian olive, tamarisk, and dead material under cottonwoods along Pack Creek. The purpose of this work is to reduce hazardous fuels in the area and begin to restore native riparian plant communities.

The press release said that Rim to Rim Restoration has been working with the Moab Valley Fire Department during the past 18 months mapping vegetation in the creeks, overlaying that with hydrant locations, neighborhood densities, and other factors like proximity to major roads to determine locations for fire fuels breaks.

The press release also said that while creating fire-safe areas around homes is a land owner responsibility, the creeks present a special challenge to fire safety in the community. The dense olive and tamarisk areas in the creeks can carry a small fire into taller trees creating an inferno that throws embers and sparks a long distance, creating spots that can carry fire throughout neighborhoods; the creeks cut through almost every neighborhood in the community.

The service organization Team Rubicon is planning a springtime operation in Moab to help mitigate fire fuels in additional areas while also providing training opportunities for their members. That work will be followed by another few weeks of UCC assistance and follow up. Rim to Rim Restoration, Forestry Fire and State Lands, and the Moab Valley Fire Department will be working over the winter to apply for funds to continue these efforts in 2020, and will be contacting land owners over the next few months to prepare for work by Team Rubicon in the spring.

For more information, contact Chief TJ Brewer with the Moab Valley Fire Department at moabfire1@gmail.com or 435-259-5557; or Kara Dohrenwend, Rim to Rim Restoration Director, at kara@reveg.org or 435-259-6670.