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Blue Spring





Plate 375X. Blue Spring 1943 - 1948 - 1953 - 1961 - 2003 The Blue Spring Photo Plot Transect was established in 1943 and reread in 1948, 1953, 1961, 1973, and 1979. The transect consists of ten plots and is 1050 feet in length. The transect was designed to sample a small meadow near the junction of Blue Spring Creek and the North Fork of Blue Spring Creek on the southern side of Boulder Mountain. When the transect was established, range conditions were described as poor and soil erosion was widespread. The meadow was used “as a persistent bedding ground for [domestic] sheep. As a consequence of this misuse, forage was depleted…and a huge gully system was established through the old meadow…In 1946, the area was closed to sheep….but cattle [use] continued.” In 1948, Dr. Walter Cottam, University of Utah plant ecologist, recommended that the entire allotment “should be closed to grazing.” In 1953, range conditions were described as “very poor” with a net downward trend. Conditions continued to deteriorate and in 1961 the trend was still downward even though all sheep use had been discontinued in 1955. By 1973, however, conditions had improved somewhat and a new grazing system was implemented in 1974. In 1979, Dr. Jim Bowns, range ecologist at Southern Utah University, noted that “this transect tranverses an area that has received extremely heavy livestock use….Early photos support the discussion of the impoverished condition of this area and the poor species composition. The original gullies have healed and are presently revegetated. New gullies, however, have occurred primarily as a result of road construction [and associated logging]…This transect crosses the poorest range that we have seen in this area. The close proximity to water and [the] level terrain make this a natural concentration area for cattle. Utilization, therefore is extremely high. Any management, short of fencing, will probably have a negligible effect on this meadow. The area has improved somewhat since 1943, but range condition is still poor” (unpublished reports in the range files on the Escalante Ranger District, Dixie National Forest, Escalante, UT). Plate 375x is viewed northeast from the start of the Photo Plot Transect at the rock carin in the foreground. The person in the 1943 image is standing on the transect centerline. The rock carin is hidden from view in the 2003 retake by the low-growing juniper in the foreground. Conifers, primarily ponderosa pine, spruce, and juniper, have increased, while aspen has declined. The open hillside in the distance is now a pine forest. Aspen has not successfully regenerated in nearly 100 years due to excessive browsing of aspen suckers by livestock and wildlife. The area was heavily grazed by cattle in 2003 and erosion was common on the steep hillside around the photopoint. As conifers have increased, rubber rabbitbrush and other species have declined.

Photo Information:

U.S. Forest Service photographs (unnumbered) taken by Ray J. Davis on August 6, 1943; Walter P. Cottam on August 4, 1948; I.H. Johnson on September 1, 1953; and I.H. Johnson on September 7, 1961; retake by Charles E. Kay on August 29, 2003 - - Photo No. 5272-9. Original photographs, negatives, and narrative reports held in the range files on the Escalante Ranger District, Dixie National Forest, Escalante, UT.

Vegetative Community:

Conifer, Juniper, Aspen


South West: Section 3, Range 2 East, Township 33 South; UTM of transect starting point 441500 E, 4201500 N; elevation 8,240 ft.

January 2018