Project Name: Black Ridge Desert Bighorn Sheep Habitat Monitoring and Assessment Project
Project Collaborators: Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and Colorado State University
Project Dates: 2012 - 2014
Project Description: The Bureau of Land Management and the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife collaboratively work together in managing the Black Ridge desert bighorn sheep population and its habitat. Past efforts have focused on monitoring the population’s size, reproduction, survival, distribution, and demographics. Current research is now focused on deepening our understanding and expanding management capacity. In 1999, a series of wildfires occurred on the western portion of the population’s range and the burned area is currently occupied by desert bighorn sheep. This research project is exploring the long term potential of wildfire as a way to augment sheep habitat in a desert environment. We are investigating the quality, composition, and phenology of the habitat within burned and unburned areas while accounting for foraging characteristics. Resource selection models are being formed by analyzing correlations between habitat components at locations of documented use. The results from this project will provide managers with detailed recommendations for future landscape and population management. The research will also contribute in many forms to desert bighorn sheep ecology, fire ecology, range ecology, wilderness management, habitat management and invasive species ecology.
Throughout the project, there has been tremendous public support for the improved management of this herd. The cooperation and assistance of the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife and Colorado State University continues to be integral for the success of this project.