Upper Provo Watershed part of $450k allocation by Utah’s Blue Ribbon Fisheries for improvement, maintenance

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah’s Blue Ribbon Fisheries are bodies of water that offer some of Utah’s best and highest-caliber fishing opportunities. This year, 16 projects totaling $450,000, were funded by the Blue Ribbon Fisheries program, and contributes to the funding of these fisheries in order to improve these waterbodies and maintain their elite status.

There are currently 44 waterbodies and two mountain areas in Utah — streams, rivers, and lakes on the Uinta and Boulder mountains — that hold this Blue Ribbon status.

The Blue Ribbon Fisheries program was founded in 2001 by Gov. Mike Leavitt and was formally established in 2005 by Gov. Jon Huntsman.

“The program was created because Utah’s leaders recognized that fishing is one of the state’s most popular recreational activities,” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Sportfish Coordinator Randy Oplinger said. “There was a need to improve fisheries in Utah and to recognize the best angling opportunities in the state. This program helps fulfill both of those needs.”

Sixteen projects were selected by the Blue Ribbon Fisheries Advisory Council this year. In Summit and Wasatch Counties, the DWR is working to maintain watersheds in the Wasatch-Cache national forest.

The project’s purpose is to improve soil, water, and vegetation conditions within the Upper Provo Watershed to target shared stewardship goals for watershed health and reduction of hazardous fuels along roadways and within the project area. To achieve this, a variety of fuels and Timber Stand Improvement (TSI) treatments will be implemented by the DWR in the region.

Some other projects include:

  • Renovation of the dike at Navajo Lake: The dike at Navajo Lake is old and has deteriorated over the years, resulting in two dam failures in recent years that drained the lake and ruined the fishery. This project will help complete needed maintenance work along the embankment and rebuild the spillway and increase the size capacity to prevent future breaches.

  • Recreation improvements at Recapture Reservoir: This project will improve the boat ramp, install a courtesy boat dock and renovate the parking lot in an effort to provide better access for boat anglers.

  • Recovery analysis at Huntington Creek: The Seeley Fire in 2012 devastated the fishery at Huntington Creek. After habitat improvement projects and fish restocking, the fishery has struggled to recover fully. This project will allow biologists to complete a stream habitat assessment to see what habitat conditions are limiting the fish from reproducing in the stream.

In 2021, 19 Blue Ribbon Fisheries projects and initiatives were completed. Over the last decade, the Blue Ribbon program has funded 173 projects totaling $3.2 million in order to improve Utah’s world-class fisheries.

The Blue Ribbon Fisheries program’s main components include more than just high-quality fishing waterbodies. The program also allots money for improvements to help maintain existing Blue Ribbon Fisheries, as well as projects to help other waterbodies achieve Blue Ribbon status.

Each year, the advisory council chooses enhancement projects for various waterbodies, and a portion of the money from Utah’s yearly fishing license sales is used to pay for those projects.

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