Scientists say thinning forests won’t help the Great Salt Lake

By Leia Larsen
The Salt Lake Tribune
February 13, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Forest thinning is the latest fantastical idea floated to rescue the Great Salt Lake. But research published last year shows thinning trees in the watershed won’t help the lake refill. In some cases, it could make things worse. Even from a practical perspective, substantial mechanical thinning of Utah’s forests is nearly impossible. …The forests largely cover mountains with slopes too steep for the needed machinery. …The Uinta Mountains, however, had a natural thinning event more than a decade ago when bark beetles ravaged the national forest. …And even with all that thinning, the lake has continued to shrink. Studies published after the massive die-offs across Western forests show it didn’t lead to surges in stream flows. It ran counter to prevailing beliefs at the time. …“Most of the studies were done in wetter places,” Sara Goeking, a biological scientist with the U.S. Forest Service said.

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