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Utah's Forest Resources

by John Shaw, Analyst, Rocky Mountain Research Station

Nearly one third of Utah’s 53 million acres is occupied by forest. Utah’s forests are located throughout the state,mostly in areas of higher elevations (above 5,000 feet). These forests are often described as timberlands, areas that support commercial timber species, and woodlands, areas that support less commercially valuable species. Timberlands represent about 21% of Utah’s forests. Commercial forest types found in Utah include ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, aspen, lodgepole pine, and spruce-fir. Noncommercial woodlands include oak-maple and pinyon-juniper communities.

About 20% of the timberland in Utah is privately owned. The other 80% is found on public lands. While private ownership of Utah timberlands was equally divided between farmer/ranchers and non-farmer/ranchers in the past, it appears that much of the private forest lands are being divided into smaller tracts and purchased by non-farmer/ranchers. Overall, recreation is the dominant land use for Utah’s forests, regardless of ownership. Other forest land uses include livestock grazing, hunting, timber and firewood harvesting.

Contribution from public lands to the state’s timber harvest has decreased in recent years. Harvest contribution from private lands has increased from about 6% in 1966 to 12% in 1970 to 17% in 1992. The exact percent of the timber harvest coming from private lands today is not known, but it is expected to continue to rise because timber demand is high and supply from public lands continues to decline.

Forest Type Tables*
All Ownerships
National Forest
Other Public (non-USFS)
Nonindustrial Private
*The tables above are extracted from USDA Forest Service Resource Bulletin RMRS-RB-1.

Updated 10/15/2002