Described as an oasis in the Uinta Basin desert, eastern Utah’s Pariette Wetlands provide a welcome respite for a wide range of wildlife. Nearly 100 avian species — including mallards, Canada geese, bald eagles, sandhill cranes and peregrine falcons — frequent the riparian corridor. They’re joined by a variety of mammals, including deer, bear and bats. Badgers, beavers, mink and the occasional river otter frolic in the waters.
Encompassing more than 9,000 acres, the freshwater marshlands are the Bureau of Land Management’s largest wetland development in Utah. Initiated in 1972, the wetlands were created from a perennial stream within the Pariette Draw and now include more than 20 man-made ponds.
While still a graduate student, BLM Natural Resource Specialist David Baird organized a mountain of data collected on waterfowl populations in the wetlands over a 30-year period. With guidance from USU Uintah Basic faculty mentor Rich Etchberger, Baird spent months poring over the hand-written information.
He had help from classmates entering decades of waterfowl census data, painstakingly verifying each line of data and organizing it for statistical analysis. Baird capped his graduate student career by sharing his research results with Utah legislators. With the right methods to interpret continued data collection, managers including himself can continue to effectively protect the Uintah Basin’s wetlands treasure.
Water Source Facts are part of UPR’s partnership with Utah State University’s 2015 Year of Water and the Quinney College of Natural Resources.