The resilience of Utah’s natural resources is an example for us all
What a year! I remain in awe of the dedication and resilience of our nearly 1,200-plus employees statewide. This past year has been full of promise and challenges, and through it, our staff has shown tremendous professionalism as they strive each day to do their jobs well. I’ve traveled the state this year being briefed on key issues and visiting with staff, stakeholders and elected officials.
I’ve learned a lot about resilience during this time. For example, Utah is full of diverse areas and ecosystems distinctly different from one another yet geographically close. Our wildlife traditionally adapts well between cycles of drought and heavy precipitation. Our natural resource industries, like the oil, gas, and mineral industries, ebb and flow through economic upturns and downturns. Our landscapes and watersheds can be harmed by fire, yet experience rebirth just a few years later.
I recently visited two areas impacted by wildfire near the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and Snow Canyon State Park near St. George. These areas are habitat for the endangered desert tortoise. Due to the recent fires, the areas will need to be rehabilitated through our Watershed Restoration Initiative. Biologists have been surveying the area to determine impacts on the tortoise population as part of this process.
I’ve been encouraged by the species’ resilience. Many tortoises survived by remaining in their burrows, underground and away from the fires. It’s amazing to see life remain even after such catastrophic events.
I’ve also been encouraged by the ability of our staff to demonstrate similar resilience. Since March, many people have worked from home due to the pandemic. Yet they continue to meet the demands of their responsibilities and are working diligently to proactively manage Utah’s natural resources and improve the quality of life enjoyed statewide. They do it because they love their jobs, and they love Utah.
I’m inspired by their dedication and look forward to leading them into the future. We have opportunities, and we have challenges. We’ll meet them head-on together.
Brian Steed, DNR executive director