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Blue Spring





Plate 377X. Blue Spring 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 flank 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 The area has improved somewhat since 1943, but range condition is still poor” (unpublished reports in the range files on the Escalante Ranger District, Dixie National Forest, Escalante, UT).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 377x is viewed southwest back to the Photo Plot Transect starting point from plot D-183. The river birch on the right has been overtopped by juniper. Note the active soil erosion in the earlier images and how those gullies are more heavily vegetated today. Conifers, primarily spruce, ponderosa pine, and juniper, have all increased, while aspen has declined. Aspen has not regenerated in nearly 100 years due to repeated browsing of aspen suckers by livestock and wildlife. The area was heavily grazed by cattle in 2003 and soil erosion was observed. The depression behind the small rock carin on the far bank is an eroded logging road that was not present in earlier images.

Photo Information

U.S. Forest Service photographs (unnumbered) taken by 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. 5272-18. 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