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Auger Hole




Plate 96X. Auger Hole 1902-2002 Viewed northeast across Auger Hole on the southwest flank of Boulder Mountain. Auger Hole is a hanging valley above Pine Creek. The view is up Pine Creek, but the actual stream is 300 to 400 feet below Auger Hole. Aspen has declined markedly, while conifers have increased. All aspen stands in the immediate area have been heavily invaded by conifers. Most aspen stands have not regenerated in nearly 100 years due to excessive ungulate herbivory. Conifers also block the original photopoint so the retake was made from the nearest open area. Willows have declined until today only four plants are left. Based on the available evidence, it appears the basin was always a wet meadow and that willows in the original view grew on a series of slightly elevated, and thereby drier, mounds and ridges. About 50 or so years ago, however, beaver colonized the area, built a series of dams and lodges, and cut nearly all the willows and adjacent aspen for food and dam building materials. Willows, and aspen, resprouted but all the new suckers were repeatedly browsed, by domestic sheep and mule deer in the past and cattle and elk today, until virtually all the willows were eliminated. Old willow roots are still visible in the meadow, as are old beaver lodges, and an outlet dam built by beaver - - there is no man made dam on the stream draining Auger Basin. The few willows that survived did so only because they grew in boulder fields that limited access by herbivores. The area was heavily grazed by cattle in 2002 and elk sign was abundant - - two shed elk antlers were found in the meadow. The meadow is now mostly a sedge (Carex spp.) marsh, but even those plants were heavily grazed by cattle. There is an old cabin just below the meadow and off the photograph to the right. Pine Creek flows into the Escalante River just below the town of Escalante.

Photo Information:

U.S. Forest Service photograph 34284 taken by A.F. Potter on October 18, 1902; retake by Charles E. Kay on August 4, 2002 - - Photo No. 5005-4. Original photograph held by Southern Utah University Archives and Special Collections, Cedar City, UT.

Vegetative Community:

Aspen, Conifer, Wet Meadow


South West: Section 22, Range 2 East, Township 32 South; UTM 441500E, 4207400N; elevation 9,250 ft.

January 2018