Sage Grouse InitiativeThe District has partnered with several funding sources to create a SAGE GROUSE INITIATIVE position here in Sublette County. The District hired Meghann Durbrow to fill the position. Meghann works for us, but is under the day-to-day direction of our NRCS District Conservationist, Jennifer Hayward. Meghann's job is to help apply NRCS Conservation Programs to projects which will be of benefit to Sage-grouse. Please see our Sage Grouse Initiative page for more information and helpful links.
Upper Green River Watershed Plan
July of 2012 witnessed the kickoff of an Upper Green River Level 1 Watershed Study. The Conservation District sponsored this study which was funded by the Legislature through the Wyoming Water Development commission. While the study will have a number of extremely useful outputs, one that is important is the fact that the study contractors (Sunrise Engineering) really want to hear from landowners about possible projects which they could then evaluate, perhaps do some engineering planning, and assist in the process of seeking cost-share funding from the Water Development Commission’s Small Water Development Program.
Examples of projects might be; stock pond rehabilitation, a new well/tank/pipeline, water diversion structure, or a solar pump. Sunrise Engineering will be anxious to visit about the idea, flush it out, do some engineering and cost estimates, and help out with the other details. Contact: Jason Linford, (307) 885-8500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.) This particular study will encompass all of the Upper Green River drainage –EXCLUDING the New Fork drainage. (Apologies to Pinedale and Boulder folks.) We would encourage those within the New Fork watershed to find out what the study will encompass, We need to know if we should advance a proposal to study the New Fork as well.
New Fork River Restoration and Wetland Enhancements
This project, working with the Olson Ranch, FWS Partners for Wildlife, and Wyoming Game and Fish will create approximately 8 acres of seasonal floodplain wetlands on private land near the New Fork River. The project site is an outside bend of the New Fork River that has been laterally migrating outward, such that the river could eventually jump into the next downstream meader and shorten the river length by about 1 mile. This project proposes to remove all or a portion of a dike that does not allow overbank floods to pass over it, but instead concentrates flow in front of the dike. This has caused large gullies to form which are working their way upstream towards the laterally migrating outside bend and speeding the process of cutting off the river meander. In addition to the dam removal, the check dams in the gullies will be built with a low enough elevation to allow flood flows to pass over them, retaining water and creating wetlands. The District has several applications submitted to various funding agencies to help fund this project.
Little Sandy Watershed Plan
The District is working with the Little Sandy Grazing Association to develop a watershed based plan to address the fact that a reach of the stream has been listed as impaired due to excessive sedimentation. We have assembled a local team to work with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and Environmental Protection Agency so that the watershed plan will serve as a proactive measure preceeding the development of regulatory prescriptions.
In addition to developing the issues and alternatives in watershed plan, we have cooperated in studies which will quantify the natural and unnatural sediment loads in the stream segment so informed decisions can be made regarding management practices.
Upper Green River Grazing Environmental Impact Statement
The Upper Green River Cattlemen's Association has asked for our help in working through the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) analysis which will re-authorize grazing in the Upper Green. The re-authorization process has gone through a number of iterations over the last decade. By elevating the NEPA analysis to the Environmental Impact Statement level, we are assured a comprehensive analysis and well founded decision. The District's ability in range will make a positive contribution to the document's development.
Serving as a "Pass Through" Funding Mechanism
A number of funding/granting bodies require funds to be disbursed through an entity with tight accounting controls. The district serves this function on several projects, primarily assisting the Wyoming Natural Resource Foundation and FWS's Partners in Wildlife programs. Thus, we are the grant recipient for several current projects others have designed, including: Carney Wetlands, North Piney Wetlands, and Muddy Creek Spike Treatment
Raven Control Contract (completed Summer 2012)
Recent research has suggested that sage grouse populations could be negatively affected by increasing raven predation in areas of intensive habitat alteration and fragmentation. Artificial structures found extensivelythroughout developed gas fields and at certain windmill water pumping sites in the Upper Green River Basin have increased suitability for nesting ravens.
In recognition of this, the Sublette County Local Sage Grouse Workgroup elected to use some of its funding to address predatory ravens. The SCCD accepted the work groups contract and hired a technician summer 2012 for a two month period (April 15-June 15). The project has three objectives
- Locate and remove raven nests (active and inactive) from artificial structures located in or near important sage grouse nesting and early brood rearing habitats. Re-visit destroyed nest locations to document re-nesting and remove nests if necessary.
- Coordinate and or install nest deterrents at up to 3 windmill locations. Monitor effectiveness of deterrents if possible.
- Identify raven nesting pairs (up to 10 pairs) for removal. Coordinate the hiring Wildlife Services (APHIS) for removal of these nesting pairs.
The final report is here: 2012 Final Raven Report
Historical Aerial Photography
There are several sets of old aerial photography in existence. The digitization of historical aerial photography will provide a reference point for cultural resource management, planning and history of land use. The 1955 series of photographs will put cultural resources into historic context and provide a basis for analysis of natural resource/habitat change over time. The ortho-rectified aerials will allow for spatial and statistical analysis of changes to land cover, adding a new dimension to change analysis. Some examples of analysis include; forest succession, habitat changes, pre and post fire vegetation regeneration, effects of irrigation and other manipulations for agricultural uses. Also documented are previous locations of roads, trails, irrigation structures, and other facilities which may be used for evaluating restoration plans and locating areas for new facilities. The series of photographs that this portion of the project covers represents the southwestern 40% of the county, dominated by BLM ownership. Subsequent projects to follow will work towards building a more complete 1955 ortho-rectified seamless image of the county. This product will be able to be employed by GIS applications and would be shared as a public domain product.