Cutting a Clear Path
An unlikely coalition restores the Escalante River.
Every year, thousands of hikers explore the deep slot canyons carved over millennia by Utah's Escalante River. The Conservancy is helping to restore the river's natural flow, which has been disrupted by invasive trees.
Jaynae Hartridge leads a team of conservation workers in removing Russian olive trees along the Escalante.
Even when she was more than five months pregnant, Kristina Waggoner, of the nonprofit Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Partners, personally checked on her work crews.
Work crews recently cleared the Russian olive trees from the river's banks near the town of Escalante. Now a healthy mic of native cottonwood trees and silvery-green coyote willow remains.
Conservation crews use the extensive network of scenic hiking trails on federal lands to reach their work sites. Supplies arrive by horseback.
Forest Service biologist Mike Golden examines Colorado River cutthroat trout in West Fork Boulder Creek, which feeds into the Escalante River.
National Park Service ecologist John Spence worked with the Conservancy to create a coalition that would coordinate work efforts across the watershed. The Escalante River Watershed Partnership boasts 32 member groups.
Utah Conservation Corps volunteer Timothy Spencer
The Escalante widens as it nears its southern terminus at the Colorado River, where is has carved 100-foot-deep canyons into the desert floor.