Although Provo is hundreds of miles away from the recent flooding in southern Utah, part of BYU was washed out. An estimated $200,000 in damages occurred on the Lytle Preserve, owned by BYU, located near the Arizona border.
The preserve is unusual in that it contains three different ecosystems in its 460-acre area in the Mojave Desert. Recent flooding has destroyed many of the unique habitats and has necessitated that the preserve be temporarily closed as it is repaired. Lytle is home to some rare species of birds and fish, including the great blue heron, Virgin River spinedace, speckled spinedace, and desert sucker.
“The cleanup effort is going slow at the present time,” says Kenneth W. Packer (BA ’75), Lytle Preserve coordinator, “but part of that is we are concerned about the snow pack. There may be additional water flushes that come down the stream. It is going to take us a great deal of time to do the repairs because it is just so extensive.
“Mother Nature has these floods that come down periodically to the preserve, so what happened is a natural event,” says Packer. Damaged areas of the Lytle Preserve include the irrigation system, fences that keep the grazing cattle off the preserve, and the historical residence.
“The critical thing is to get the water back into the system,” says Packer. “We have some study plots with the Max Planck Institute” [in Germany], and other projects running. “It is important that we maintain the ability to irrigate.”