Team Rubicon Returns to Southeast Utah for Operation Grand Adventure

MOAB, Utah – Team Rubicon is returning to Utah from March 12-18 for Operation Grand Adventure, which aims to reduce wildfire risk along Mill and Pack Creeks. Team Rubicon has been an active partner in helping lower the wildfire risk within the Moab area since 2018. 

“We are psyched that Team Rubicon is returning to Moab to help us with this critical work. They haven’t seemed to learn their lesson yet. Every year, we ask Team Rubicon to come back, and every year they decide to wade back into the Russian olive and get to work,” said Duncan Fuchise, WUI Specialist for the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands’ Southeast Area. 

This year’s operation is part of a long-standing effort between the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, Rim to Rim Restoration, Moab Valey Fire Department, the Canyon Country District of the Bureau of Land Management and the Grand County Emergency Management Office. 

Under Operation Grand Adventure, residents and visitors to Moab will likely see Team Rubicon around town in their gray shirts, a notable identifier of the organization. In total, there will be roughly 25 volunteers engaged in this year’s operation. 

Throughout their week in Moab, they will assist local agencies with removing Russian olive, tamarisk and Siberian elm along the creek corridors in town. The removal of these undesirable species reduces the ladder fuels that have the potential to carry fire into the crown of cottonwood canopies. 

“Since coming to help clean up after the Cinema Courts Fire in 2018, Team Rubicon has been a catalyst for getting some of the most intense hazard fuels areas cleared along the creeks in Moab, opening up opportunities for native plant regeneration and better management of flood flows. Their work has greatly improved our riparian corridors over the years!” said Kara Dohrenwend of Rim to Rim Restoration.

This work is challenging, between trudging through the sand, getting poked by Russian olive thorns, and carrying heavy debris to a chipper for several hours a day. However, every year, Team Rubicon volunteers show up and work hard to help the community. 

In addition to the work in town, firewood round-sized biomass will be hauled by staff from FFSL to designated firewood banks in San Juan County as part of the Wood for Life tribal firewood initiative. FFSL has been working with this program for the past year and a half. Five firewood banks serve both the Ute Mountain Ute and the Navajo Nation. 

In 2023, Team Rubicon completed 134 operations and served 260 communities worldwide, including one operation in Moab. In May 2023, Team Rubicon was instrumental in removing hazardous fuels on the land behind the Moab Free Health Clinic and the Episcopal Church on 500 West. 

Team Rubicon’s work in the area earned them the WUI Mitigation Award, an annual award by FFSL, for their work in wildfire mitigation efforts in the wildland-urban interface within the Moab area. The award recognized their dedication and innovative approach to safeguarding communities against the devastating impact of wildfires.

Team Rubicon is a veteran-led humanitarian organization built to serve global communities before, during, and after disasters and crises.