The Forest Service PositionOp The Logan Canyon Highway
The Forest Service is deeply concerned with the protection of the tmportant
resources and uses in Logan Canyon. Logan Canyon i~ well recognized as one of the
choice recreation attractions in the Intermountain West. It is widely known and
many people enjoy the fishing, cgmping, picnicking, and scenic -beauty of this
Many years ago Logan Canyon was accepted as a highway route between Logan
and Garden City--a di~tance of some 40 miles. The original route through the
canyon was built prior to establishment · of the national forest. Recognition of
the need for a better highway led to Forest Service approval of plans for the
State to construct the highway that now exists between the two points. Much of
t~e pr~ry road system throughout the national forests represents stmilarly
successful cooperative efforts between the Forest Servic·e and State and local
Present and projected traffic indicates the need for reconstructing the road
to higher standards. Trends in traffic, however, are paralleled by trends in use
and enjoyment of the canyon's recreational assets. New highway construction in
this ltmited area poses serious conflict with the stregm, streamside vegetation,
and recreational values.
In 1959 approval to reconstruct the 4.2-mile section above Logan was granted
by the Forest Service with the realization that tpere would be same ma~or impacts
on other public values in the canyon. The section now completed is a very fine,
high-speed highway. However, the impact on the resource values has been great.
even though a yearlong permanent stream was not involved for same distance in this
section. Wide clearing for the right-of-way has eliminated much vegetation that
contributed to scenic values and to sdil ;stabilization along the river. The river
channel is practically a canal in same places, and fish habitat value has deteri-orated.
The new highway, on the other hand, affords the traveler a better view
of the canyon walls.
The State Department of Highways' request for a per.mit to build the second
4.2-mile section of the new highway is of great concern to many interested people
and to the Forest Service because particularly serio~s ~pacts are involved.
Accordingly, Forest Service Administrators met last March out on-the-ground with
repres.entatives of the State Department of .Highways, the State Fish and Game
Department and the Bureau of Public Roads. During this field review specific
measures to avoid the impact on the stream and streamside vegetation in a number
of places were discussed.
Again in June, . the groups represented at the March meeting and a representa-tive
of Utah State University met in Logan. The redesign of the proposed highway
was discussed and then reviewed in the field. The redesign included measures to
lessen some of the ~pacts at an additional cost of about $100,000. These measures
included shifting a l200-foot section of the roadway to save trees an~ otper
vegetation in front of Guinavah Forest Camp; installing two culverts and a high ..
water bypass; and reducing streambank changes on channel encroachments throughout
the project by approximately 4560 feet. The redesign, however, did not include
the additional measures discussed in the March field meeting which we believe are
reasonable considering ·the long-ter.m public benefits involved. These measures
would cost an additional $126,925 and would el~inate several severe adverse
effects on the stream channel and bordering vegetation.
The Forest Service has made clear that the measures in question do not provide
for complete protection of the stream channel and recreation values in the critical
4.2-mile section of the highway under consideration. A review of the situation
shows that the Forest Service has accepted many ~pacts on other values in the
i nt erest of constructing a good highway at reasonable cost. There will still be
the loss of ~portant streamside vegetation for same 8,400 feet due to channel
encroachment and channel changes. There are two major channel changes that i nvolve
the construction of same 900 feet of new channel. These are among the ~pacts which
we have accepted. A general engineering review of the cost 'of fully protecting
the 8,400 feet of streamside vegetation and avoiding the .ne:ed for the 900 feet of
new channel could, conservatively, raise the estimated construction cost by an
That portion of the highway route upstream from the 4.2-miles under consi derati
on to approximately' Ricks Spring will also be difficult to coordinate with other
resources and uses. This portion will likewise be expensive to copstruct. The
route fram Ricks Spring to Garden City is in terrain that lends itself to easier
location, less conflict with resource values and lower construction costs. The
present proposed new const.ruction and that portion on to Ricks Spring is the most
difficult part of the route to coordinate. To do an acceptable job of coordi nation
in the best public interest will necessitate higher costs. The additional cost of
$126,925 for the 4.2-mile section presently under consideration does not seem
excessive when considered as a portion of the 40-mile route from Logan to Garden
The expenditure of these additional funds will help in preserving the i nherent
natural and near-natural aquatic environment of Logan River.
The Forest Service feels that the expenditure of these monies will min ~i z e
adverse effects upon existing favorable fish pabitat by avoiding 1,210 feet of
channel. Encroachments on the stream in these areas would result in loss of
pool structure, damage to na~ural streambeds, and elilnination of desirabl e
streamside vegetation. In another location a 10-foot setback would save valuable
streambank vegetation and el~inate an additional 385 feet of channel encroachment.
The vegetation which exists along this total of 1,595 feet of streambank provides
much needed overstory stream cover and shade; it provides terrestrial insects and
other organisms to the water for trout food; it also provides streambank stabilization,
and roots and branches that extend into the stream provide protective
cover and resting areas.
A recent fish habitat survey of this very popular and heavily-used fishing
stream by Forest Service technicians shows there are a numb~r of good pools and
numerous smaller pools formed by boulders, rock outcroppings, and streambank
vegetation within the proposed road construction areas. Any encroachment on the
stream channel, removal of streamside vegetation or increased gradient resulting
in higher water velocity will cause shifts in streambed materials and adversely
affect the natural channel and the desirable pools that are now presento
Dr. C. J. D. Brown, a nationally recognized ~uthority on trout streams,
made a very detailed study of Logan River in 1935 while a biologist with the
Uo So Bureau of Fisheries. He reported that, "Probably the most undesirable
physical condition existihgin the main Logan River from the point of view of
fisheries is the almost complete absence of good pools. The Logan River has but ·
one or two good pools per mile, while the Blacksmiths Fork stream has 40 to 500
As already mentioned, the absence is a natural result of a steep gradient a~d a
flow of high velocity." Dr. Brown also said, "Shade and cover in the Logan River
are generally good. In many of the sections, it is very dense and affords an
excellent hideout for fish. Those plants along the banks and the brushfalls in
the water should be carefully guarded." We believe ' this' appraisal reflects present
Dr. Brown's report emphasizes the suitability of the water of Logan River for
several species of trout, the abundance of a~ilable natural food, but a definite
deficiency in good natural pools. The need, therefore, to protect as many as
possible of the pools that are present, both large and small, is essential to
maintaining suitable conditions for trout whether they are produced in the stream
itself or are hatchery reared.
In addition to the prevention of dwmage to the stream habitat for its
fisheries value, there is much public interest in preserving the natural
setting and aesthetics of this beautiful stream and canyon. To do this will
require all feasible measures to maintain to the extent possible the natural
stream channel with its pools and riffles and native stream-bordering vegeta-tion.
The concern of the Forest Service on this matter is shared by others. The
recent report by a qtah State University group ~oncerning the need to program
and finance resource protection in highway construction projects is an example.
That this will add to per mile construction costs is undeniable. We believe the
costs entailed to accomplish this are both reasonable and justifiable.
Our decisions in matters of this kind must be based on the concept of
multiple use and sustained yield. The authority for this goes back to the
Organic Act of June 4, 1897, and to the Multiple Use and Sustained Yield legis-lation
enacted June 12, 1960. The latter, Public Law 86-517, directs that
tangible as well as intangible values must be weighed and considered in manage-ment
of national forest lands. It is mandatory that Forest Service administrators
coordinate uses on these lands, exercising their best judgment in authorizing any
single use so that coordination is effected to the fullest practicable extent in
the best interest of all the American people.
National forest administrators share everyone's interest in the construction
of a good highway at reasonable cost. At the same t~e, the Forest Service is
charged with a major responsibility for coordinating highway construct.ion on'
national forest lands with other ~portant values. A highway in Logan Canyon
designed with obvious consideration for the locality's outstanding roadside and
stream values will be an endUring source of satisfaction.
Ogden, Utah -.
November 22, 1961
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