By Kate Rouse DuHadway/For The Herald Journal
A century ago, Logan Canyon and the Bear River Range were in desperate condition.
After 40 years of indiscriminate logging, trees were few and far between where they had once been plentiful. After the Logan and Blacksmith Fork rivers were dammed and diverted for irrigation, waters that had once been teeming with fish were practically devoid of life and far from drinkable. Even the cows and sheep, brought to the area by the hundreds of thousands, and who depended on the native grasses replenishing themselves year after year, were overgrazed and starving to death en masse, further polluting the water with their corpses.
All of that is hard to imagine now, said Brad Hansen, an environmental history major at Utah State University. Logan Canyon is for many outdoor enthusiasts the crown jewel of northern Utah. Hikers, anglers, hunters, birdwatchers and ATV riders enjoy wooded backcountry trails covered in quaking aspen and wildflowers, and will find plenty of fish in the now crystal clear waters of the Logan River.
But compare today’s Wasatch-Cache National Forest to the many journals and personal accounts that Hansen has studied for his thesis, and you’ll begin to understand how much of an effort it’s been to restore the area to its former state.
That effort is ongoing, even 109 years after the Bear River Range was set aside as a federal forest reserve, and now a national forest. While much of the flora and fauna have returned, biologists at Utah State University and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, with help from the Cache Anglers, the local chapter of Trout Unlimited, are focusing their efforts on giving at least one of those native species a fighting chance: The Bonneville cutthroat trout.
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