RICHFIELD – The Chief’s Honor Awards, the highest honor in the Forest Service, are presented in Washington, D.C., each year. With these awards, the Forest Service celebrates employees who find innovative ways to embrace the goals of the agency’s strategic plan.
Each of the nominees for the awards embodies one of the goals in the strategic plan: Sustain Our Nation’s Forests and Grasslands, Deliver Benefits to the Public, Apply Knowledge Globally, or Excel as a High-Performing Agency, as well as the Chief’s Honor Awards fifth category, “Fostering Volunteerism and Service,” that recognizes major achievements in building internal capacity to support volunteerism and community service. They all strive to meet “the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run.”
This year the Monroe Mountain Aspen Ecosystem Restoration Project Interdisciplinary Team was selected in the category for “Sustaining Our Nation’s Forests and Grasslands.”
On December 7, on behalf of the Fishlake National Forest and the project’s Interdisciplinary Team, Richfield District Ranger Jason Kling accepted the award at a ceremony held at the Department of Agriculture building in Washington, DC.
In accepting this prestigious award Ranger Kling said, “Thank you to the entire Interdisciplinary Team, Chief Tooke, and the Executive Leadership Team. Thank you to the entire Monroe Mountain Working Group for you willingness to work in collaboration with the Forest to design, plan, and now implement this All Lands, All Hands aspen restoration project.
Thank you to the Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative and the Joint Chief’s programs for helping us now implement this great and important project. The success of this project is the result of teamwork, hard work from many Forest Service employees, help and support from many partners, and several years of ongoing collaboration. I believe this project truly exemplifies Caring for the Land and Serving People. Once again, thank you to everyone involved for helping make this project a success!”
In summary for the project, employees from the Fishlake National Forest collaborated with the Monroe Mountain Working Group (21 stakeholders) to develop a plan to restore approximately 41,000 acres of aspen ecosystems on Monroe Mountain of the Richfield Ranger District. Monroe Mountain encompasses approximately 12,000 acres of private lands and approximately 176,000 acres of public lands administered by the Fishlake National Forest.
This plan to restore aspen ecosystems includes actions (prescribed fire & mechanical treatments) that address conifer encroachment and addresses aspen over-browsing by domestic and wild ungulates. These are two of the primary underlying causes for aspen decline in the analysis area. Forest and District employees worked with the Monroe Mountain Working Group for three years to successfully complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) was a Cooperating Agency for the EIS. In December 2015, the Final Record of Decision was signed and a variety of restoration treatments began in 2016. Implementation is expected to last ten plus years. These treatments will result in benefits to wildlife and rangeland habitat, timber, fuels reduction, and aspen restoration just to name a few.
—US Forest Service