Photo of Kamas LakeIn Northern Utah, much of the job falls to the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest - in partnership with state and local agencies. The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache is located within 27 major watersheds, including the Bear, Jordan, Weber, and Green River Basins. Over 1,161 miles of perennial streams and rivers run through Forest land. Small natural alpine lakes and reservoirs are scattered along higher elevations. Seeps and springs dot the landscape, even in the arid Stansbury Mountains. Several large population bases, including the densely populated Salt Lake City, rely on the water from Forest lands. It is also used for recreation, irrigation, and hydroelectric power. Many residents value the water simply for its aesthetic quality. For healthy wildlife and plants in Forest, clean water is essential.

What is a Watershed?

A watershed is defined as that geographical or geological area that is drained by one river system. For example, if a drop of rain lands near a ridge line, it will eventually run-off, or flow, to the stream at the canyon bottom. All surface and ground water which contributes to a stream would be part of a watershed. Regulations governing the use of watershed areas protect all sources of water that contribute to the stream system or watershed. Good regulations and adhering to them, will ensure the best water quality.

See more information regarding watersheds for the Salt Lake Valley.

Watershed Protection

Almost 60% of the Forest's watersheds provide drinking water for area communities, including Salt Lake City, Ogden and Logan. As the population continues to rise in the region, so does pressure on the watersheds. Not only do residents rely on them, but they are a vital component of healthy ecosystems.

Several protected watersheds are located on the Forest, particularly along the Wasatch Front, which provides Salt Lake City residents with 60% of their drinking water. As part of the "Keep it Pure" program, Salt Lake Ranger District and the Salt Lake City Public Utilities District are partnering on efforts to improve water quality within the protected watersheds. Special regulations are in place and strictly enforced.

All watersheds located on the National Forest are important resources and we can do a lot to reduce our impact by following a few simple rules...

  • Tread carefully on the banks of lakes and rivers to minimize erosion, even at developed sites.
  • Camp at least 200 feet away from lakes, rivers, streams and springs.
  • Bury human excrement more than 6 inches below the surface and at least 200 feet away from any water source. Better yet, pack it out.

Best Management Practices

A Best Management Practice (BMP) is a practice or combination of practices that have been determined to be the most effective and practicable means of preventing or reducing non-point source pollutants. BMP's associated with forest management activities are designed primarily to prevent or reduce soil erosion and the pollution of surface waters, by controlling storm-water runoff from construction and other kinds of ground disturbing projects. For example, alpine ski areas under permit with the National Forests must implement Ski Area BMP's whenever they are engaged in ground disturbing activities on National Forest lands.