Plate 1513X. Horse Valley 1979 – 2004 The Horse Valley Photo Plot Transect was established by the Forest Service in 1943 and reread in 1953, 1961, and 1979. Horse Valley is located near the head of Lloyd Creek in the Pine Valley Mountains south of Pine Valley, Utah. According to early narrative reports, this area was severely overgrazed by mule deer when the transect was established. “There are several small valleys similar to Horse Valley on Pine Valley Mountain, all in a serious state of forage impoverishment….The stockmen contend that deer on the entire Pine Valley Allotment are a major factor in the present range problems. They are interested in this particular area…because only a dozen head of cattle and a few horses share this area with numerous deer. We saw upwards of 50 deer in one band. They were extremely poor. Shrubs such as [Utah serviceberry, snowberry, and elderberry] are hedged shamefully and most aspen are highlined to a degree seen nowhere else in Utah….Practically no aspen reproduction can be found. [The Stockman’s] argument seems well founded. Certainly deer are a major factor in the serious depletion of forage on much of the Pine Valley allotment.” In 1953, Range Conservationist Irwin A. Johnson reported a slight upward trend but noted that “aspen…is highlined as it was in 1943 and there is no reproduction…snowberry is badly hedged or dead and mountain mahogany on the open ridges is hedged or highlined. Sheet erosion is severe…[and] there is an actively cutting drainage channel down through the center of..[the] valley with alluvial deposits conspicuous even from some distance away. Much soil disturbance due to deer trampling was evident….” Johnson measured the transect again in 1961 and found little improvement. “Now, 18 years since transect establishment…the range still is in very poor condition. Cattle, horses, and deer continue to overgraze the [area]…aspen is conspicuously highlined. [Aspen] reproduction is just not getting away from the heavy use the area receives year after year….manzanita [a normally unpalatable shrub] is in critical condition. Many shrubs of that species are dead [due to severe overuse]…Gully erosion continues to be active…sheet erosion…is evident….Fresh cutting in channels and recent alluvial deposits from summer storms…are earmarks of soil not adequately protected. Deer droppings are so abundant in places that they suggest a sheep herd has been shaded up or bedded down year after year over the same area. Fresh deer signs are to be seen almost on every hand….To sum it up, there is really nothing good that can be said about vegetation and soil conditions in [this]…section of the Pine Valley Mountains.” Dr. Jim Bowns remeasured the transect in 1979 and noted that range conditions had improved. “Gullies that were active in 1943 are now healed and stabilized by grass. Both Mound Valley and Horse Valley show definite improvement as evidence by improved soil condition and species composition. No cattle grazing occurs on the area now and deer numbers are very low at this time. Range condition is good and trend is definitely up.” Plate 1513x is viewed east across the Photo Plot Transect in Horse Valley. Aspen has not regenerated in many years despite the elimination of livestock use and a decline in deer numbers. Conifers have increased.
Forest Service photograph (unnumbered) by Al Tait on August 1, 1979; retake by Darrell McMahon on August 27, 2004 - - Print from color slide. Original photographs, negatives, and narrative reports held in the range files on the St. George Ranger District, Dixie National Forest, St. George, UT.
Aspen, Conifer, Dry Meadow
South West: Section 34, Range 15 West, Township 39 South; UTM 276720 E, 4135930 N; elevation 9,200 ft.