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Pilot Orchard Rehabilitation in Fruita Historic Orchards

Capitol Reef National Park » Pilot Orchard Rehabilitation in Fruita Historic Orchards » Document List

Capitol Reef National Park is seeking public input and comment on an upcoming replanting project in the historic Fruita orchards. The project will initiate much-needed orchard re-planting to maintain the quality and character of the area. This initial project will grade, aerate, fertilize, and plant historically appropriate fruit trees on 4.6 acres of the Guy Smith and Cook orchards starting in late 2021 and continuing until 2025. Future projects will include similar treatments in the Mott, Merin Smith, and Carrell orchards in the coming decade.

Most of these orchards were planted by Fruita residents from the turn of the 20th century up to the 1950's. Until the 1990's, other Fruita orchards were planted with modern commercial varieties to support a popular U-pick operation at the park. The Fruita area, which is on the National Register of Historic Places as a prime example of a historic agrarian landscape, includes 100 acres of orchards and pastures that are enjoyed by over 1.2 million visitors annually.

Heirloom fruit trees are generally less resistant to drought and disease compared to contemporary varieties. Since designation, park orchards have lost nearly 1,000 trees due to age, disease, and poor soil conditions. Properly preparing orchard soils will improve furrow irrigation, soil structure and nutrient conditions. This will enable young fruit trees to establish vigorous root systems enhancing survival and longevity.
This project is a 'pilot' because knowledge gained during implementation will be used to inform future orchard replanting projects. This approach will permit staff to incorporate lessons learned during the replanting process and adjust to the vagaries of weather, drought, and pests.


February-March 2021: Public meetings to present project and solicit input

May 2021: Complete compliance for pilot replanting project; Contract for grading orchards

September 2021: Regrade orchard soils, add 1 inch of composted manure, till soil, re-establish irrigation ditches and furrows, and seed with orchard grass mix

Spring 2022: Initial planting of 200 saplings in Guy Smith orchard

Spring 2023-25: Continue planting up to 100 saplings in each orchard per year

How to Participate:

Please download 'How to Participate.pdf' under the 'Document List' link on this page.

Review recording of February 25, 2021 Virtual Public Meeting under Links on left hand side of this page.

Public comment summary and frequently asked questions is now posted to 'Document List'.

Contact Information

Jim Roche