Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative Pinedale Meeting Notes
Pinedale Local Project Development Team
by Daniel D. Blake, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
November 25, 2008
Editor's Note: The Pinedale Local Project Development Team for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative met on Friday, October 24, 2008, from 1:00 pm-4:00 pm at the Pinedale Library. The group is considering local habitat improvement projects to benefit wildlife. They are tentative scheduled to hold their next meeting in January, 2009. More information about their purpose and activities can be found on the WLCI website at www.wlci.gov. Below are the October, 2008 meeting notes, including a description of their on-going projects and proposals for new projects.
This Local Project Development Team meeting was a follow up meeting to receive input and structure on projects in the area. Discussion included development of projects for 2010 and beyond as well as additional formalization of the group. Those in attendance are listed on a separate sign-in sheet.
The purpose of the WLCI is to use a scientific approach as a basis for assessing and enhancing habitats at a landscape scale in southwest Wyoming. The Local Project Development Teams are established to create and promote ground level landscape conservation projects produced, improve working relationships, facilitate and improve communication between interested groups and streamline the process to build comprehensive landscape-scale projects.
The WLCI is a resource for funding, contacts, grants, budgets, and to provide a forum to have suggestions to make improvements in projects. The WLCI Coordination Team will work with the Central Point of Contact for the Pinedale LPDT, which currently will be the Sublette County Conservation District. The WLCI Coordination Team will also work with project leads to follow through on each project.
The priority objectives of WLCI within the 5 habitat types (aspen, sagebrush, mountain shrub, riparian, aquatic) are to:
Address issues related to fragmented habitats
Eliminate/control invasive species
Improve water quality and quantity
The ranking criteria for the projects reflect how well each project fulfills these objectives. Local groups are to prioritize the projects according to local needs and submit to the WLCI for review. A draft version of the 2010 Project Prioritization Score Sheet was handed out for consideration in development of habitat projects.
Attendees were informed of USGS work on the integration of science with conservation actions. Work has been done to gather information about existing research, conduct new research, and determine what additional science is needed in the future. The data collected from recent research and monitoring will be released in November 2008.
Attendees were informed of the USGS Science Workshop May 12-14 in Laramie. Participation is open to everyone who wishes to attend and will cover science work conducted by the USGS and other entities focusing on southwest Wyoming.
Concern was raised about duplication of information and projects from different committees. It was reiterated that one of the purposes of the WLCI is to facilitate communication among various groups to move projects forward and refine them. Each group needs to work toward a common purpose and share information that will help assess risks and set priorities. Looking at the bigger picture when developing projects will help them be more complete and comprehensive so that greater conservation benefits can be realized.
Review of on-going Projects
Wyoming Front Aspen Treatment This 10-year project is designed to rejuvenate aspen stands across 9,000 acres in the Wyoming Range. The project has multiple partners and treatments have occurred the past 2 years. Funding for the project has not come from timber sales of removed conifer. There is no local mill to process the timber. The project has been funded by grants, and project proponents are currently seeking more funding. The question was raised about whether the long term affects were out weighing the short term. It was also asked as to whether the mulch from the cutting could be used in other projects. The group consensus was that this is a good project but needs some improvements that will occur through additional coordination.
Trumpeter Swan Project This is a large project that involves several different areas in the Upper Green River watershed. The WLCI is providing some funding on the Mud Lake and Rimfire Ranch portions. During the group discussion it was discovered that the communication and specifics of the Mud Lake project were not fully coordinated and the project may not be ready to proceed (i.e., NEPA not complete). It was questioned whether this portion of the project was even needed. Discussion was tabled until further information was provided.
Native Plant Seed Source Project - Monies from funding for this project will be used to help with staffing, storage and material analysis, and evaluation of seed. The goal is to make native plants viable for production by commercial growers so they can be used for reclamation and other projects. The group supports the project but would like to have BLM seed program support and would like to see local growers involved.
New Project Proposals
Sand Springs/Alkali Draw Watershed - Research is being done on this large storm watershed area. The projects plan is to slow water passing through the area to prevent soil erosion and lessen the effects on industry and wildlife in the area. Discussion on this project provided the following insights and questions: reservoirs in the area should be evaluated to make enhancements or provide new reservoirs for the watershed, would spreader dikes work in the area, will this become a sediment trap causing problems later, is there a way to step down the toxicity of accumulated water/sediments, can sage grouse habitat be improved by this project, is there a management solution rather than structural solution. Complete water development, not just seasonal water grazing conditions, should be considered. Also the Lander cut-off of the Oregon Trail is in the area and needs to be accounted for. This project needs aerial imagery and involvement of a hydrologist to design a more complete project.
Conservation Ranch plan The object of this project is to increase production of grouse habitat. The project is in the preliminary planning stage and involves 1,200 acres of private land and 2,200 acres of BLM land. A small portion of this project is in Sand Spring Draw. The landowner would like to work in conjunction with others and would like suggestions on mowing/inter-seeding, cattle/wildlife grazing. The landowner needs guidelines to help this project move forward. He will work with the different agencies and would like a timeline for paperwork etc. The BLM is supportive of this plan and it was suggested to get NEPA started.
Labarge Wateshed This project was started in 1999 and is on its final leg. It is a multi-partner project that resulted in re-introduction of native species (Colorado River cutthroat trout). The project relies on a barrier to fish passage to prevent hybridization and competition with non-native fish species found downstream. A temporary dam is in place, but a permanent dam is needed to complete the project. The proposed dam has no concrete except for the spillway and will be an earthen/bentonite dam approximately 30 wide with a 7 drop. It will create wetlands and is key to keeping the Colorado cutthroat off the endangered species list as this provides more than 50 miles of habitat upstream. The project is due to be finished before the WLCI funding cycle but there are possibilities of bridge funding to extend the project timeline to fit the funding cycle. The project needs to be put into proposal form.
Melanie Purcell offered to be a key contact for general WLCI information in addition to the WLCI Coordination Team. The meeting was closed with a reminder to visit the WLCI website at www.wlci.gov and the decision was tentatively made to meet in January 2009.
For more information contact Daniel D. Blake, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 280 Highway 191 North, Rock Springs, WY 82901, Phone: (307) 352-0375.