A general survey of the vegetational changes of the rangelands of the Uinta Basin was made using historical records, documents, interviews, and recent vegetational surveys. Historical vegetatienal information about the Uinta Basin is very limited, most of it pertaining to the vegetation along the streams and rivers. Escalante, in 1776, mentioned the splendid groves of cottonwoods, the fine pastures, and the abundance of game along the rivers. Ashley in 1825 and Powell in 1870 entered the Basin via the Green River. Ashley crossed the Basin following the Duchesne River and its tributary the Strawberry River. He described the groves of cottonwoods and fine pastures found along the Rivers. Powell also described an abundant growth of vegetation along the rivers. General Fremont in 1844 described the hills at the middle elevations as being clothed with ''Cedar" and valleys supporting a covering of grasses. In 1905 the Ute Indian Reservation was opened for settlement. A majority of the settlers owned livestock which were grazed on the range the year around. At the time of this settlement the ranges probably supported near climax vegetation. The sagebrush areas were probably dominated by shrubs but also sustained a rich understory of grasses and forbs. The pinyon-juniper areas supported a sparse understory of shrubs, grasses, and forbs very similar to what is found today. The winter ranges, cottonwood river flood-plain, saltgrass meadows, badlands, mat Atriplex - Hilaria and the low-altitude Artemisia communities, supported a growth of palatable shrubs and grasses. Since these ranges were greatly overgrazed, they deteriorated first and have remained in this deteriorated condition. Little information could be found covering the high altitude ranges. Only two enclosure plots could be found and these indicated only slight deterioration between 1925 and 1963. The ranges as a whole show deterioration. The sagebrush areas show the greatest deterioration with an increase of shrub type vegetation and a decrease in grasses. Part of the Ute Indian Reservation is an exception of this. The Reservation has sustained very limited grazing since 1937 and many-areas have received rehabilitation measures, primarily spraying with herbicides. Areas under the management of the federal agencies have also received rehabilitation measures. The Forest Service has treated many areas and have greatly improved parts of the ranges, especially the mid-sagebrush community. The Bureau ot Land Management has also treated areas which has greatly improved range conditions, but the amount of range land treated compared to the amount of rangelend in the basin is so small that the ranges, except part of the mid-sagebrush range, are in a deteriorated condition. This is especially true of the winter ranges.



College and Department

Plant and Wildlife Sciences



Date Submitted


Document Type





Botany, Uintah Basin