Forest seeks members to propose projects | ParkRecord.com

Forest seeks members to propose projects

Aaron Osowski, The Park Record

The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest is looking for interested individuals to join its Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) to help recommend future projects for approval. The RAC, which is volunteer-based, deals with a variety of projects, many of which are proposed by the members themselves.

Loyal Clark, Public Information Officer with the Forest Service, explained that RAC members represent a set of categories that are determined by the Secretary of Agriculture, whose office charters the RAC.

"The process is that anyone can submit a project a member of the public, a county official, an environmental organization projects are submitted based on criteria and reviewed by RAC members," Clark said.

Projects can include road and trail maintenance, watershed restoration and education efforts. Much of the annual road maintenance on Forest Service roads comes through projects approved by the RAC. Clark added that the RAC has also been able to restore historic structures through some projects.

Last year, the committee approved an education project for the Diamond Fork Youth Forest in Spanish Fork. The RAC approved the purchasing of equipment for students to be able to participate in habitat and stream restoration projects.

"All projects benefit the forest but also the communities and counties where the Forest Service is adjacent to," Clark said.

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Steve Winters, a RAC member, is part of the Utah Mountain Biking club. He said there are currently 20 miles of trail in American Fork Canyon which was approved through the RAC, so he decided to join the committee to propose future improvements.

"My interests were definitely local just to see if we can do any improvements in American Fork Canyon," Winters said. "I sat down with local Forest Service personnel here and picked their brain and got a priority list."

Winters was elected to be the committee chairman, but said the committee began work not long before federal budget sequestration, so there were only a couple of meetings before everything was put on hold.

The biggest project recommended, Winters said, was in Rock Canyon near Provo, which was in need of bridges on parts of the trail that crossed creek beds.

The Heber-Kamas Ranger District was also able to secure funds to employ a Youth Conservation Corps team to restore fish and wildlife habitat and maintain roads, trails, facilities and fences.

"We’ve been able to supplement the local economy by hiring and working through the counties to help them do the work," Clark said. "It’s a public benefit because trails are improved, we’ve restored historic sites and there is watershed improvement which improves fishing."

Winters believes that serving on the RAC has been important and he encouraged others to consider becoming a member.

"It’s definitely worthwhile if you have a pet project you’d like to see through or at least proposed," Winters said. "It’s fun to see [a project] go from scratch pad to fully implemented and completed."

The RAC meets about four times a year, Clark said, but added that the service members provide is invaluable.

"This is a chance for individuals to take a very integral part in helping us make a decision on the best use of funding that we receive through this program," Clark said.

For information on applying to the RAC, contact Loyal Clark at lclark@fs.fed.us or 801-999-2113. Applications must contain original signatures and be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 25. The RAC encompasses three categories for projects, representing different interests:

Category A:

  • Organized labor or non-timber forest product harvester groups
  • Developed outdoor recreation, off-highway vehicle, commercial recreation
  • Energy and mineral development
  • Commercial or recreational fishing
  • Commercial timber industry
  • Federal grazing permit holders or land use permit holders within the RAC area

    Category B:

  • Nationally recognized environmental organizations
  • Regionally or locally recognized environmental organizations
  • Dispersed recreation
  • Archaeological and historical interests
  • Nationally or regionally recognized wild horse or burro groups, wildlife or hunting organizations or watershed associations.

    Category C:

  • State-elected office holders
  • County or local elected officials
  • American Indian tribal representatives from tribes within or adjacent to RAC areas
  • School officials or teachers
  • Citizens representing the affected public at large