Well density seen as key factor in decline of birds in Wyoming
Limiting the density of new oil and gas drilling rigs in Wyoming may not be enough to stem the decline of greater sage-grouse, according to scientists tracking populations of the imperiled bird.
Berween 1984 and 2008, populations declined by 2.5 percent annually, and the drop is clearly linked with oil and gas development, the new study from the USGS and Colorado State University found. The researchers used annual counts of males at breeding sites for their estimates, comparing those tallies to the the density of oil and gas wells and the area of disturbance associated with these wells. Continue reading “Sage grouse and drilling just don’t mix”→
Activists say public was short-changed on comment period
Wildlife advocates are going to court to challenge a proposed grizzly hunting plan in Wyoming. A lawsuit filed last week alleges that he Wyoming Game and Fish Commission illegally fast-tracked approval of the plan without allowing adequate public comment.
The approval would authorize the state’s first trophy hunt of grizzly bears in 40 years, but the public only had 30 days to review and comment on the plan — far too short to be able to evaluate the biological consequences of the proposed hunt. The commission simultaneously adopted a tri-state memorandum of agreement with Idaho and Montana to formalize quotas for grizzly hunts, allocating over 50 percent of the quota to Wyoming. Continue reading “Wildlife: Wyoming grizzly hunting plan challenged in court”→
Lack of science-based measures will put more pressure on birds
FRISCO — Conservation advocates say the Wyoming version of a new regional sage-grouse conservation plan fails to meet basic science standards and will open the door to more harmful mining, grazing and fracking.
Climate change to cut key nesting habitat in Wyoming
FRISCO — As if greater sage-grouse didn’t already have enough to worry about, a new study suggests that global warming may reduce nesting habitat for the dwindling birds by 12 percent in southwestern Wyoming by 2050.
“Historic disturbances of fire, development and invasive species have altered the sagebrush landscape, but climate change may represent the habitat’s greatest future risk,” said Collin Homer, the U.S. Geological Survey scientist who led the research.
“Warming temperatures, combined with less snow and rain, will favor species other than sagebrush, as well as increase sagebrush habitat’s vulnerability to fire, insects, disease and invasive species,” Homer said, explaining that the research helped show how vulnerable sagebrush landscapes are to climate change. Continue reading “Greater sage-grouse face serious global warming threat”→
Earlier snowmelt has been especially obvious in most of the mountain ranges of the western United States
FRISCO — A new NASA study focusing on northwestern Wyoming reinforces earlier research showing that global warming is already having a huge effect on the timing of snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains. Read the full NASA post, with more maps and graphs, here.
Taking a close look at the Wind River Range showed that the snowmelt season in that area now ends about 16 days earlier than it did from the 1970s through the 1990s, using images and data from NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. They also studied ground-based stream discharge measurements and daily temperature and precipitation records. Continue reading “NASA tracks the Rocky Mountain global warming meltdown”→
235,000-acre ranch to be managed for wildlife conservation; energy companies can buy conservation credits
FRISCO — Biologists, politicians and land-use planners enmeshed in the thorny issue of greater sage-grouse conservation hope that a new conservation bank in Wyoming can help save the dwindling birds without crimping energy development and ranching.
The country’s first-ever sage grouse conservation bank will manage a vast expanse of central Wyoming for sage-grouse, mule deer and other wildlife as a hedge against impacts to greater sage-grouse in energy development zones.
A conservation bank is a site or suite of sites established under an agreement with the Service to protect, and where feasible, improve habitat for a species. Similar banks have long been used to conserve important wetlands. Entities pursuing development that require mitigation can purchase “credits” generated by perpetual conservation easements and conservation projects to offset impacts occurring elsewhere. Continue reading “Conservation bank eyed as solution to sage-grouse woes”→