Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Press Release: Shaded Fuel Break in City Creek Canyon

April 1, 2009
Contact: Florence Reynolds

Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities to Create Shaded Fuel Break in City Creek Canyon

Community Open House April 6, 6 pm at SL Main Library

As part of a larger effort to increase public safety in City Creek Canyon , the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities will be creating a shaded fuel break along the canyon road.

Creation of the break will begin this spring and will continue throughout the summer. The shaded fuel break will be along the north and west side of the road, for the entire length of the paved road.

The primary purpose of this shaded fuel break is to improve both public and emergency responder safety in the event of a wildfire in City Creek Canyon .

A shaded fuel break uses undergrowth thinning and selective tree removal to eliminate dry, high burn potential debris. Mature trees are left in place while limbs lower than 15 feet from the ground and undergrowth are cleared. This thinning and removal is achieved by using chainsaws, chipping equipment and ‘other tools’. A shaded fuel break is not a clear cut.

This technique is commonly used among land management agencies to maintain safe ingress and egress from wild areas. Local examples of shaded fuel breaks include the Millcreek Canyon road corridor, Red Butte Natural Research Area, and various locations within Emigration Canyon .

Contracted by Salt Lake City , the Unified Fire Authority will be creating the shaded fuel break.

City Creek Canyon will not be closed during the creation of the fuel break; however the public can expect utility vehicles and noisy trimming machinery operating on the road that may require temporary restrictions to segments of the road for public safety.

The public is invited to attend an informative open house on April 6, 2009 at the Salt Lake City Main Library, 210 East 400 South, conference room B, from 6 – 9 PM.

More information about the shaded fuel break can be found online at Inquiries may be directed to Florence Reynolds, Water Quality Administrator, at (801) 483-6864 or


As the sole owners of the City Creek Canyon road, the Salt Lake Department of Public Utilities (SLCDPU) is undertaking the long term process of managing fuel loads and fires in the canyon.

SLCDPU is responsible for providing clean drinking water to the residents of the Salt Lake Valley and managing the watershed lands that deliver the water to the treatment plants.

Fire is a natural part of the Wasatch Mountain ecosystems yet decades of fire suppression have led to high fuel loads, increasing the chances for a catastrophic wild fire that could permanently alter the quality of water that City Creek Canyon delivers.

The need for a shaded fuel break along the canyon road was determined in 2007 after a fuel analysis of City Creek Canyon was conducted by U.S. Forest Service fire ecologists. The report’s greatest area of concern was the safety of the road for recreationist and Salt Lake City staff if there were to be a fire in the canyon. The current heavy fuel load along the road would make it impossible to use it as an emergency escape route. There is a distinct need for dead debris and brush to be removed from the road corridor in order to create a ‘safe area’ for people and emergency response personnel.

In 2008, during a site review, consensus among representatives from the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands , the Bureau of Land Management, as well as the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest was also that the creation of a shaded fuel break along the road corridor is the best management strategy for increasing the safety of the road.

A shaded fuel break requires a long term commitment. Trees and undergrowth will return after 1-2 years so SLCDPU will need to deploy maintenance crews in the future to maintain the fuel break by cutting back any re-growth.

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