EnCana partners for habitat project
by Wyoming Game & Fish
September 15, 2006
EnCana, USA has provided additional support to a unique project designed to develop a wildlife management model that can be used by agricultural landowners.
The Wyoming Ranch Wildlife Management Planning Project was initiated in December 2004 in Sublette County. The project started as a partnership between the Rimfire Ranch, the John Andrikopoulos family and Dave Lockman, owner of Wildlife Management Services of the Rockies, LLC. Each donated their time and efforts to design a management and planning system that could be used by the Rimfire Ranch for agriculture and wildlife, with special emphasis on sage grouse. After several people in the agriculture and oil and gas industry observed the project in its first year, much interest and support was generated for value of this project for not only agriculture, but oil and gas, also.
"They have seen it as a positive, problem-solving project that had aspects not only useful to agricultural landowners in their management but by the oil and gas industry in mitigation and reclamation planning for wildlife," said Marlene "Mo" Brown, executive director of the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of Wyoming.
On Aug. 14, EnCana, USA made its second donation of $130,000 for completion of the Sublette County Ranch project. EnCana also supported a ranch in Fremont County in April. The idea is to apply the project design to three ranches in Wyoming with differing systems of agricultural cropland and grazing management and all supporting seasonal sage grouse habitat. The Wildlife Heritage Foundation of Wyoming administers the project funds, which now total $310,000 for the 2 ½-year project, the largest contribution to the Foundation made to date.
From what is learned through two years of intensive monitoring of wildlife use and habitat conditions, an evaluation of the wildlife habitat will be conducted and wildlife then integrated into the ranches' agricultural management program.
Part of the project design involves collaboration with local Game and Fish habitat and wildlife biologists, and Natural Resources Conservation Service and Bureau of Land Management range specialists in the design of projects that benefit wildlife, agriculture, and oil and gas. Management strategies and projects will be designed for each ranch, some of which may require outside funding assistance for enhancing wildlife benefits and to qualify as oil and gas mitigation projects.
After the management program for the three ranches has been completed, a system will be designed for baseline data collection, wildlife and habitat monitoring, and integrating wildlife into ranch management to benefit multiple uses of agricultural lands.
Workshops will be given to landowners in 2008 to help provide them the tools for enhancing sage grouse and other wildlife habitats on their lands and adjoining public lands.
"We see this project as an important and positive step in our efforts to meet the energy needs of America, as well as maintain the wildlife habitat values important to Wyoming in the long-term," said Randy Teeuwen of EnCana, USA. "We also see this project as having application in defining and implementing mitigation and habitat restoration opportunities through industry partnerships with private landowners."
In completing the first year of monitoring on two ranches in this year's extreme spring and summer range drought, Lockman said, "I have developed a renewed and much greater appreciation of the crucial role private ranchland meadows, wetlands, and water developments have in sustaining production and survival of species like sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, and sandhill cranes. The importance of these private land habitats, adjacent to our public land habitats, are not given their due consideration and value by too many interests. Their values and contributions to wildlife really are demonstrated in this drought."