Land & Environment

FIRED UP: Wildlife, Fish and Water Security in Utah

Have you ever wondered how wildfire, fish, and water security are interconnected? Would you like to know what research is telling us? Would you like to be informed about what the future might or can look like?

Utah State University scientist and department head in the Department of Watershed Sciences, Patrick Belmont, will be presenting at Swaner Preserve and Ecocenter in Park City Thursday, Aug. 12, at 6:30 p.m. The event, Wildfire, Fish, and Water Security in Utah, will be available for participation either in person or via Zoom. Belmont’s research spans hydrology, ecology, fire science, erosion and climatology. His presentation and follow-up discussion will summarize what science is telling us and what options we have moving forward.

Wildfire has increased 20 fold in the last 30 years in the Western U.S., partly due to climate change and partly due to forest and fire management practices. At the same time, many of the water reservoirs are drying up, especially in the current drought, which is one of the worst in decades in most of the state. Utah is known for its great mountain stream and lake systems, but the fish populations has been struggling for decades due to water diversions, instream barriers, invasive species and dwindling flows.

Belmont’s talk will provide some context for these three big, converging problems Utah is facing. He will talk about what has been causing these problems, how they relate to one another, some of the science he is doing to understand the problems better and what one can do about it.

“I'm cautiously optimistic about the future because we have a tremendous amount of information about what is happening, how and why,” Belmont said. “All we need to do now is implement common sense solutions."

Belmont knows that wildfire is a natural part of the Western U.S. landscape... and that it loves to burn, and says that some wildfires are actually good.

“But we are increasingly in a difficult situation with destructive high severity wildfires increasing, threatening water resources, buildings and roads and fish populations,” Belmont said.


Patrick Belmont
Watershed Sciences Department

Traci Hillyard
Public Information Officer
S. J. Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources


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