Wind River/Bighorn Basin District Sage-Grouse Conservation Initiatives
Cody Field Office
Marathon Oil Company: Since 2005, Marathon Oil Company has donated a total of $40,000 for habitat improvement projects to benefit Greater Sage-Grouse in the Bighorn Basin.
Heart Mountain Sage-Grouse Habitat Enhancements:
- Reduced noxious weed infestations and prevent further spread of weeds to protect native rangeland and riparian communities.
- Conducted prescribed burning and mowing to improve diversity in monotypic sagebrush.
- Fenced water sources for wildlife use and provided additional watering sites.
- Designed a grazing system to produced desired plant communities and ensure adequate forage remains.
YU Bench Habitat Enhancement:
- Mowed 800 acres in long, linear strips to increase diversity, seeded forbs and constructed a drip irrigation system and fences to enhance herbaceous production.
- Constructed two 1-acre fenced exclosures with water drip irrigation systems on YU bench to provide late summer green herbaceous forage for sage-grouse broods.
Fidelity Exploration & Production Company: In order to install overhead power to supply four new wells in the Silvertip Oil Field, discussion were held with BLM, Rocky Mountain Power, and Fidelity to discuss potential impacts to sage-grouse. To maintain sage-grouse connectivity within the area and prevent perches for raptors, the discussion turned from overhead to buried power. Due the estimated costs to bury the power for the four wells, $42,309.00 (which is almost 10-fold of the original overhead cost), Fidelity opted to bury power to the first well at a cost of $13,052.00 ($8,093.00 more than the overhead at $4,959.00) and re-route overhead power to supply the other three wells at a cost of $14,939.00. Total additional incurred costs to Fidelity to maintain sage-grouse habitat was $18,703.00.
Bighorn Basin Bentonite Companies (Bentonite Performance Minerals, American Colloid Company, M-I LLC, and WyoBen Inc.): Provided a representative who worked on the Bighorn Basin Local Sage-Grouse Working Group. Starting in 2007, bentonite companies worked with Shell Valley Consulting to design and implement test plots to increase establishment of sagebrush on bentonite reclamation areas by planting sagebrush seedlings and using an experimental, inexpensive drip irrigation system(s).
Develop reservoirs, wetlands, or other water sources as part of reclamation of mined lands in areas with limited water. (ongoing)
Companies now include sagebrush seed in all revegetation mixes where appropriate.
Lander Field Office
Greater Sage-Grouse movement and habitat delineation study: This study is tied to the ongoing Gun Barrel Unit, Madden Deep Unit and Iron Horse Unit (GMI) environmental impact study (EIS) and was implemented by ConocoPhillips (Burlington Resources), Noble Energy, and EnCana Oil & Gas to study the movement of sage-grouse using radio telemetry and GPS technology. The study will provide information on sage-grouse year-long habitat use in an area currently being developed for natural gas. The study also includes field verification of the habitat being used by sage-grouse by measuring attributes of the habitat characteristics.
Herman St. Clair and Larry Makeshine
from Wind River Fish & Game radio
collaring sage-grouse hen.
Government Draw vegetative treatment project: Devon Energy provided funding and support for vegetative treatments in an area of heavy sage-grouse use. The information obtained from the project is planned to be used to evaluate different vegetative treatment methods that would benefit sage-grouse habitat.
Oil and Gas reclamation study: ConocoPhillips (Burlington Resources) and Devon Energy are currently conducting studies on reclamation techniques with the goal of improving reclamation success which in turn would improve sage-grouse habitat. This project was initiated through the local sage-grouse working group. The studies are being conducted in low potential reclamation areas within the field office.
Worland Field Office
Grass Creek Basin habitat improvement project: Marathon Oil Company contributed money for a project to brush mow 10 - 20 percent of a 300-acre area of decadent sage-grouse habitat in the Grass Creek Basin. The project was designed to enhance sage brush regeneration with the goal of improving sage-grouse survival and increase sage-grouse numbers.
Fentan Road wildlife water well development project: Marathon Oil Company contributed money for a project to develop a water well for wildlife use. Funding was used for solar panels, pumps, and auxiliary equipment to enhance sage-grouse habitat use. The project also benefits antelope and mule deer in the Fentan Pass Road area.