BLM partners with state, nonprofits to improve ecosystem health and benefit a variety of species

Within the project area, clusters of trees are left to benefit migratory birds such as pinion jays.
Within the project area, clusters of trees are left to benefit migratory birds such as pinyon jays.

Partnerships with state and non-governmental organizations for pinyon, juniper, and sagebrush management on the Arizona Strip District has resulted in successful improvements to habitat diversity for wildlife. 

Managing public lands to improve the health and diversity of ecological sites is a high priority on the Arizona Strip District where integrated vegetation management is used to promote desirable, stable, plant communities. These vegetation treatments provide better wildlife habitat with a mosaic of foraging, cover, and migration corridors for various wildlife species.   

The Wildcat Ranch project on the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument is an excellent model for improving biodiversity and ecosystem health to benefit numerous species and is an example of how successful partnership planning, and shared funding, can multiply efforts to achieve desired results. 

The Arizona Game and Fish Department along with Pheasants Forever funded mechanical treatments for 789 acres in the Wildcat Allotment. In December 2023, 509 acres of treatment were completed. A total of two units of pinyon-juniper and sagebrush will be treated at the (Wildcat) Ranch unit and at the Salt House unit, totaling around 940 acres.

The project will benefit species such as mule deer and pinyon jay, which rely on open pinyon-juniper woodlands.

“By opening up the landscape through mastication, by introducing early successional habitat, with cool and warm season grasses and rejuvenating the shrubland composition, we are improving biodiversity,” said Jordan Menge, associate project manager with Pheasants Forever. “This allows us to create a more biodiverse and healthier ecosystem over time, resulting in a better mosaic for mule deer and other species such as pinyon jay and other migratory birds,” Menge said.

For grassland birds such as pinyon jays and other migratory birds, the resulting mosaic will provide foraging cover, nesting cover, and loafing cover. For mule deer the treatment will also provide a migration corridor with winter cover and forage.

This project was supported by Arizona Game and Fish Department funds through the Habitat Partnership Committee and Landowners Relations Program. The Bureau of Land Management, in coordination with Pheasants Forever and the Arizona Game and Fish Department, are overseeing the mastication contract to reduce pinyon-juniper trees north of Mt. Dellenbaugh near Wildcat Ranch.

“We could not have accomplished so much without the assistance of valuable partners,” said Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument manager Brandon Boshell.

“The best part is that we’re all moving in the right direction, working together, for the benefit of the landscape and wildlife,” Menge said.

Jordan Menge, Associate Project Manager, Pheasants Forever and Rachel Carnahan, BLM Arizona Strip District Public Affairs Specialist

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