Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Fund

Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Fund

Examples of Recently-Funded Projects


California leaf-nosed bat.  Photo by Pat Brown-Berry.  

BAT SURVEYS such as those in California, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah will help managers better understand bat ecology, species composition and habitat use. BLM lands support a diversity of bat species, yet knowledge of them is incomplete in many areas. Surveys are conducted in partnership with State agencies and other providers of bat expertise. Net surveys for sensitive bat species in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument of southwestern Colorado, for example, are helping managers determine appropriate bat conservation and cave closure measures. Past bat surveys in the Book Cliffs in northeastern Utah have indicated probable high bat densities; BLM and the State of Utah are supporting additional surveys there. 

White nose syndrome is threatening the nation's bat populations and the BLM is working with other agencies on appropriate response strategies. Learn more about White Nose Syndrome here.

Photo: California Leaf-nosed Bat, left, roosts during the day, close to a mine tunnel entrance, in small groups of up to 100 bats. Photo by Pat Brown-Berry

 

  
White-tailed ptarmigan.  Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.  

THE WHITE-TAILED PTARMIGAN  is an alpine grouse species of the Western U.S. and Canada.  The species depends on alpine tundra habitat because it remains at high elevation throughout the winter. In Colorado, the BLM is engaged in a 4-year mapping effort to identify and analyze key ptarmigan winter areas in order to maintain ptarmigan habitat and determine possible conflicts with winter recreational use. Mature willow riparian areas at or near timber line are critical habitats for winter survival; many of these areas are under pressure by snow compaction and other disturbances caused by winter recreational activities in the area. White-tailed ptarmigan is a BLM sensitive species once common on lands managed by the BLM’s Columbine Field Office, an area of southwestern Colorado that includes Durango. The species is in decline in the area. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

   
 Wolverine.  U.S. Forest Service photo.  

WOLVERINE HABITAT is also the subject of a wildlife habitat inventory in southwestern Colorado. The wolverine is a reclusive carnivore that inhabits boreal forest, tundra, and high mountain habitats around the world. Historically found throughout the mountains of Colorado, the current population of wolverines in Colorado is unknown; there is one confirmed resident in Colorado, an animal which was fitted with a radio collar during a study in Wyoming. The wolverine is a State Endangered Species and the State is considering expanded conservation measures should wolverines continue to encroach on their historic Colorado range.  The wolverine has been petitioned three times for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) but was declined due to insufficient information.

The BLM is producing GIS models of potential wolverine habitat in Colorado. These models will be used as the basis for land use decisions where proposed actions may overlap key wolverine habitat areas on public lands. They will also serve as a basis for more targeted wolverine surveys in response to recent reports of wolverines in Colorado. BLM lands in western Colorado appear to have suitable habitat and considerable potential to support wolverines. Several sightings of wolverines and tracks have been reported originating on BLM lands in this area.

   
 Wildflowers on restored upland site at Atwell Island.  Bureau of Reclamation photo. 

ATWELL ISLAND RESTORATION - The BLM’s 8,000-acre Atwell Island site in California’s Central Valley is managed as an experimental restoration area where techniques are being developed to restore marginal farmland to alkali sink, valley grassland, riparian, and wetland habitats. Components of the project include collecting native seed, planting native species that attract a variety of native wildlife and restoring a 300-acre man-made wetland which could potentially provide a valuable resting spot for migratory birds on the Pacific flyway, as well as habitat and breeding ground for other water birds. Researchers from the University of California Merced are also modeling the effects of potential climate change in California’s Central Valley here.

   
Monitoring tansects on retired farmland at Atwell Island site. Bureau of Reclamation photo.  

Researchers, including graduate students, will monitor the site for four years through weather stations, rain and soil moisture sensors, water well monitoring (including water levels and water quality), and carbon cycling sensors. Located on the outskirts of Alpaugh, California, a small farming community of a little over 1,000 people, the Atwell Island project also sponsors an internship program to put local students to work in habitat restoration and community outreach.  Supported by local schools, Americorps and the Student Conservation Association, the internship program provides jobs for youth where jobs are scarce.
http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/bakersfield/Programs/atwell_island.html

   
 Wetlands near the Sierra range.  AQUATIC HABITAT is the focus of an assessment by BLM-Nevada’s Sierra Front Field Office. Aquatic springs throughout the arid Great Basin provide important habitat for many wildlife species. They also come under intense pressure due to heavy use by people, livestock and wildlife. The BLM is funding a team of biological technicians to survey, map, assess, and repair and restore aquatic habitat in several Sierra Front mountain ranges. Data gathering is in cooperation with the Nevada Department of Wildlife and research experts from the Smithsonian Institution. This new information will help managers make more informed decisions regarding the endemic and sensitive invertebrate species that rely on this habitat.