Powder River Basin Restoration
The Powder River Basin Restoration (PRBR) program is a collaborative partnership to restore and enhance sage-grouse habitat on a landscape level in the Powder River Basin (PRB).
Four Corners Lek, Powder River Basin, Wyo.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) High Plains District Office (HPDO) PRBR program was developed to form partnerships with local cooperators, federal and state agencies, private landowners, and industry to work collaboratively on sage-grouse habitat restoration. PRBR is focusing on areas affected by federal oil and gas leasing that has occurred over the past decade in the PRB in northeastern Wyoming.
- Build partnerships to restore habitat for the greater sage-grouse on a large landscape or watershed level.
- Integrate habitat improvement programs and projects implemented by partners to leverage funding to enhance sage-grouse habitat reclamation.
- Facilitate the sharing of data/data collection methods, monitoring data/methods, and best management practices.
The strategy of this initiative requires a coordinated effort which includes forming a consortium of landowners, industry, and agency partners who can integrate their respective habitat improvement programs with BLM efforts focused on reclamation of abandoned coalbed natural gas (CBNG) wells. The partnership will provide funding sources and technical assistance for a community-based approach to restoration that goes above and beyond regulatory or industry requirements with minimal to no-cost to landowners. The result of this coordinated effort will be to restore a larger landscape or watershed area rather than the smaller areas the BLM requires through the plug and abandon process. Partners will contribute technical expertise and/or financial support focused on the long-term reclamation of abandoned CBNG wells and their infrastructure. There will be an emphasis on restoring and enhancing sage-grouse habitat. Conserving and enhancing sage-grouse habitat also benefits many other species, as well as livestock forage production. By integrating the implementation of these independent programs, there are opportunities to leverage both the technical expertise and financial contributions so that greater results are achieved.
Numerous CBNG development sites throughout the PRB look similar to this. Site includes well house, meters, and pipeline. LX Bar Ranch, Sheridan County, Wyo.
Healthy Lands Initiative
PRBR is one of three Healthy Land Initiative (HLI) focal areas in BLM Wyoming. The Healthy Lands Initiative is a major vegetation resources enhancement initiative to restore and improve the health and productivity of western public lands. The Healthy Lands strategy increases the effectiveness and efficiencies of vegetation enhancement treatments by focusing on treatments on a significant percentage of lands (focal areas) – both federal and non-federal rather than focusing on the local project level. The strategy increases opportunities to leverage cooperative solutions across ownerships and jurisdictions.
The lands in Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada and Colorado were selected because they encompass critical sage grouse habitat or other important wildlife habitat in the wildlife - energy interface. Restoring sage-grouse habitat is crucial because the greater sage grouse habitat ranges across 10 states covering more than 100 million acres, with 64 percent of the acreage under federal management.
Treating wildlife habitat in the wildlife-energy interface is important because BLM is clearly at a national crossroads for restoring habitats for a variety of species in a manner that keeps pace with the country’s energy needs and demands. Energy production on BLM lands provides 5 percent of our nation’s oil, 18 percent of our nation’s gas and 44 percent of our nation’s coal. Smaller scale, project-by-project approaches are unlikely to be sufficient for much longer.
The Healthy Lands Initiative of 2008 is a dramatic change from current practices because of the larger scope and faster pace of the habitat improvement efforts and the more intensive involvement of partners and other landowners. Increased funding and work with partners allows the BLM to:
- Concentrate a large number of treatments in each emphasis area, resulting in a significant amount of improved habitat in an entire watershed or landscape-wide area in three to five years, rather than the typical 10 to 15 years based on standard funding levels.
- Leverage partnership funding at unprecedented levels –an estimated $10 million dollars.
- Establish or enhance existing partnerships with adjoining landowners, so that a large percent of landowners in the area (Federal or non-Federal) treat their lands.
- Reduce BLM’s overall unit cost due to lower costs per acre from large scale projects.
Overall, the initiative allows BLM to do substantially more in substantially less time due to the significant funding increase. Focusing a significant amount of funds in each of these six areas to quickly improve most or the majority of the acres in a watershed or very large landscape area will:
- Prevent weeds from spreading;
- Prevent the spread of insect infestations that harm native habitat;
- Keep habitat suitable so that wide-ranging species can flourish; and
- Prevent species from being listed.