National Forest Foundation

Wasatch Water for the 21st Century on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Wasatch Water for the 21st Century on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest


On the Wasatch Front, the NFF is working with communities to support clean water and recreation opportunities for the Salt Lake City region.

Truly a backyard forest for the greater Salt Lake City, the Uinita-Wasatch-Cache (UWC) National Forest offers an escape for everyone. Skiers flock to the forest for world-renowned powder, while drivers cruise the roads on one of seven scenic byways. Hikers explore countless miles of trails through rugged mountains and nine wilderness areas.

Encompassing 85 percent of Salt Lake City’s watershed, the Wasatch Mountains contains diverse landscapes: high mountain lakes, Aspen forests, mountain shrub lands, wet meadows, and more. Keeping that water clean and the ecosystem healthy is a priority for our work on the Forest.

The UWC serves a unique dual role as the “culinary watershed” for more than half-million residents in Salt Lake City and surrounding communities as well as a backyard playground for visitors and residents. As the population of the Salt Lake valley grows, demand for both water and recreation in the canyons along the Wasatch Front will increase. These watersheds are vulnerable to impacts from growing recreation use, climate change, invasive species, and more.

Our efforts on the UWC focus on improving the water quality in Big and Little Cottonwood and Mill Creek Canyons in Salt Lake City’s backyard. Currently non-native fish in Mill Creek are preventing the return of healthy populations of native fish. To help bring the return of Bonneville cutthroat trout, mountain sucker and longnose dace, we’ll replace small, aging culverts with new fish passage structures.

Throughout the project area, invasive weeds are negatively impacting wildlife habitat and water quality. Using best management techniques, we will treat invasive species and control an early invasion of yellow star thistle.

Existing trails in the canyons need repairing because they are producing high amounts of sediment into waterways. User-created trails are also causing water quality concerns. We will improve trail access and remove user created trails as well as rebuild a boardwalk through a heavily used wetland. In Little Cottonwood Canyon, we have demolished the Grit Mill structure to prepare the area for rock climbing trails.

We are also facilitating the Wasatch Legacy Project to ensure both diverse, a major collaborative effort working to ensure that the UWC continues to provide both exceptional recreation opportunities and clean, pure water for residents and visitors alike.