The Tooele County Emergency Management Department created a plan to recover Soldier Canyon after the Jacob City Fire burned through the canyon in the summer of 2022.
The Soldier Canyon Fire started on July 9, 2022 and burned 4,800 acres before it was put out on Aug. 4.
The fire threatened a large number of infrastructures, including the Soldier Canyon irrigation system and the Stockton Water Treatment Center, caused evacuations, and cost a total of $7 million.
In theory, it takes $1.5 million dollars to restore 100 acres, according to Bucky Whitehouse, Tooele County emergency management director.
The federal government and the State of Utah is responsible for most of that cost.
As a result of the fire, soil was damaged in the area. Flooding occurred on Aug. 21, Sept. 21, and Sept. 29 of 2022. This caused even more damage to the canyon.
To fully restore Soldier Canyon, it may take five to eight years, Whitehouse said.
Right after the fire, Tooele County staff applied for a Natural Resources Conservation Services Grant, which they were given in the amount of $899,000. Tooele County officials have promised to add $274,000 to the grant for a total of $1.2 million to help restore the canyon.
The County is using the money to work on their Soldier Canyon recovery project, which was started in September, 2022, and has been broken into two phases. Phase one includes fortification of the water treatment resources, because the fire made Stockton’s water unsafe to drink.
“One of our first priorities was to fortify the water treatment facility with berms going around the area,” Whitehouse explained.
TEEKO Construction, a Tooele-based industrial engineering and construction company was able to place the berms for $208,000.
“The area around the treatment facility will act as a natural deflection point as it comes down the hill,” Whitehouse said.
This project was completed in December. Stockton’s water is now safe to drink.
Phase two includes staff working to design calming mechanisms as water flows down the canyon to ensure runoff will be able to be controlled, rather than runoff causing more damage to the canyon, homes in the area, and infrastructure, according to Whitehouse.
This will improve and slow the stream bed in the middle, upper, and lower canyon areas.
Phase two will begin on April 1 with actual construction beginning on May 1 and ending on Dec. 31, 2023.
Crews will work to protect banks of the stream by installing logs and other diversion devices, install diversion berms, and creating water crossings on the road.
“Phase two is really important to us to be able to get these calming mechanisms in place in the stream bed to make sure the water slows down, or we can’t control it,” Whitehouse said.
This project is only the first step in restoring the canyon, Whitehouse said. There will have to be many more upgrades and there will have to be culverts installed in the area.
Tooele County staff will also be applying for a hazard mitigation grant to help pay for additional costs that they are responsible for.
More upgrades to the canyon may cost $600,000 to $700,000.
Property owners at the bottom of the canyon are also working to mitigate flood risk on their own properties.