Iron Spring Draw
Plate 333X. Iron Spring Draw 1953 - 1961 - 2003 The Iron Spring Draw Photo Plot Transect on Escalante Mountain was established in 1943 and reread in 1948, 1953, 1961, and 1979. The transect is 1250 feet in length and runs across Iron Spring Draw just above the Sink Holes. When this transect was established, range conditions were exceedingly poor and soil erosion was widespread. “The area sampled by this transect is some of the most badly eroded range I have seen in a long time. The slope on the west side of [Iron Spring] Draw is cut by numerous active gullies, sheet erosion is severe, [and] Festuca ovina is pedestaled one inch to over six inches…Along the bottom the area that was once a good meadow is gutted by a wash 20 to 30 feet and more wide and four to six feet deep…The picture is one of severe depletion of the range resource. Channel banks are mostly vertical with chunks of soil breaking off into the creek…licken lines are to be found more prominent than I have ever noticed any where in Region 4. The lines can be found from about two inches to as much as 18 inches above present soil levels”. Conditions had not improved much by 1979 as Dr. Jim Bowns, range ecologist at Southern Utah University, noted that “this is one of the poorest areas that we have examined on the Aquarius Plateau. There are areas of severe erosion and active gullies….Hummocking of Festuca ovina is very prominent in this area. This condition, however, appears to be from hummocking as a result of cryopedogenic processes rather than strictly erosion caused by grazing….Condition is probably no better than fair. Trend has been slightly up since the transect was established, but is basically stable now. This is an extremely harsh site…” (unpublished narrative reports in the range files on the Escalante Ranger District, Dixie National Forest, Escalante, UT). Plate 333x is viewed northeast down Iron Spring Draw from the transect starting point. Silver sage has increased in the foreground. A new allotment fence has been built on the other side of Iron Spring Draw. Both sides of the fence were actively being grazed by cattle in 2003. Some elk use was also evident. In the distance, spruce has increased while aspen has declined. Despite the drought that has gripped southern Utah for several years, range conditions on the uplands appear to have improved. The same cannot be said, however, for conditions along the stream - - see Plates 336x, 337x, 338x, and 339x. Soil erosion is still evident in the draw, but appears to have slowed on upland areas - - see Plate 340x. The only way to keep livestock from concentrating along this short section of spring-fed stream would be to fence the area and pipe the water to distant points.
U.S. Forest Service photographs (unnumbered) taken by I.H. Johnson on August 27, 1953; and I.H. Johnson on September 5, 1961; retake by Charles E. Kay on August 29, 2003 - - Photo No. 5248-21A. Original photographs, negatives, and narrative reports held in the range files on the Escalante Ranger District, Dixie National Forest, Escalante, UT.
Sagebrush, Conifer, Aspen, Riparian
South West: Section 5, Range 1 East, Township 33 South; UTM of transect starting point 428000 E, 4201450 N; elevation 10,000 ft.