Bureau of Land Management
Salt Lake Field Office
The Wildlife Program of the Bureau of Land Management Salt Lake Field Office includes terrestrial and aquatic habitat management. An important component of the wildlife program is to evaluate potential affects to wildlife and associated habitat that may be impacted by proposed projects on BLM public lands. The BLM takes a holistic approach to balance ecosystem sustainability while meeting the multiple use mandate of the BLM.
BLM wildlife biologists achieve these goals by working closely with partners such the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and non-governmental organizations on habitat restoration projects for the conservation of a variety of species. The BLM is also actively involved in applied research management with Utah State University and Brigham Young University.
Salt Wells Wildlife Habitat Area
Dedicated Hunters Assist BLM with Aquatic Habitat Projects
Dedicated Hunters, volunteers, DWR and the BLM worked together to repair fencing and replace signage at Salt Wells Wildlife Habitat Area (WHA), a collection of brackish springs surrounded by salt flats on the north end of the Great Salt Lake. The fence had been compromised and traffic into the area could affect nesting snowy plovers and other shore birds and waterfowl that use the area. Salt Wells is home to over 60 species of birds. BLM manages the area for waterfowl and shorebird habitat.
New signs are up welcoming and educating visitors to the sensitive resource area. People looking for a place off-the-beaten-path should check out Salt Wells in Box Elder County for solitude, bird watching and duck hunting. Salt Wells WHA is located approximately 40 miles west of Brigham City, The WHA is bordered by the Hansel Mountains on the Wet and the Promontory Mountains on the East. Visitors can access the WHA from the County Road on either the west or east side. Limited parking is available.
BLM Salt Lake Field Office Assists with Building Utah Bat Database
The Utah Bat Conservation Cooperative (UBCC) funded with a Department of Defense Legacy Grant has for the last three years been compiling and building a comprehensive database of bat locations throughout Utah. This is the 3rd phase of the project which includes regional teams throughout Utah collecting data at strategic water sources to determine bat occupancy. Besides determining bat presence in a region several parameters are also collected including habitat, elevation, moon phase, temperature, relative humidity and proximity to mine or cave. These data are correlated with water sources to help land managers such as the BLM understand the dynamics of how bats use different habitats and what resources need protection or enhancement .
For more information on the Utah Bat Database Project check out the website https://utahbats.org/Default.aspx
Raptor Inventory Nest Volunteers Assist with Fuels Habitat Improvement Projects
BLM has called on the Raptor Inventory Nest Survey (RINS) group to assist with biological surveys of proposed projects in Tooele County. RINS volunteers are citizen scientists who are passionate about raptor conservation. The RINS group has already been monitoring nesting raptors south of I-80 for the BLM SLFO since 2000.
The BLM Fuels Program, in conjunction with Renewable Resources staff, collaborates to restore the ecosystems of the West Desert in Utah with habitat improvement projects. Ecosystem restoration may often mean resetting the “successional clock” to create a desired plant community. As you drive around the West Desert of Utah, you will notice junipers in the foothills encroaching into sagebrush plant communities of the valleys. Dense junipers block understory vegetation from emerging. This understory (grasses, forbs and shrubs) supports seasonal ranges for mule deer and elk. The vegetation also attracts small mammals which forms the prey base for many raptor species.
Treatments to restore vegetation include methods such as using a bullhog or lop and scatter methods to thin junipers. A reduction in juniper provides the interspacing necessary for improving understory and attracting more mammals. The open spaces also provide raptors with a greater field of vision for foraging.
After a project is completed, the RINS volunteer of an assigned territory can monitor the newly-opened area to see if nesting activity has increased compared to before the project. This effort helps the BLM Wildlife Program to manage habitat to provide the forage and associated prey base for wildlife while retaining wildlife trees necessary for nesting, roosting and thermal cover.
BLM Partners with Utah State University to Study Wildlife Response to Habitat Changes
BLM has been working with USU faculty and students over the past few years evaluating how animals (greater sage grouse, pygmy rabbits, other small mammals and sagebrush obligate birds) respond to varying levels of habitat quality in the Duck Creek Allotment in Rich County, Utah. Animals have been captured and equipped with radio transmitters so students can track their movements and habitat use in treated and untreated land within the allotment.
Utah State University student glues a radio transmitter on a female Greater Sage Grouse for a movement study in the Duck Creek Allotment in Rich County, Utah.