Integrating Birds in Range Management across the Sagebrush Steppe
Six months after Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory (RMBO) received word of receiving partial funding from Western SARE in March 2012, we received a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) to fund activities that were in our original SARE proposal but not funded by SARE. Thus, we have postponed* the bird training sessions that were to occur spring 2013 to focus on the development of the Decision Support Tool (DST) that will provide landowners and resource professionals with information about how land management treatments will affect sage dependent bird species. In order to promote and provide training on how to use the DST, we will use the training sessions to accomplish this.
* CIG funding was not awarded according to their original dispersal timeline, which postponed all project efforts.
Activities – Describe and quantify the primary activities conducted under this grant.
RMBO has sub-contracted Great Basin Bird Observatory for access to and assistance with manipulating their bird and vegetation survey database for Great Basin sagebrush to incorporate into the occupancy and density models (with the CIG funding).
RMBO’s biometrician has been analyzing regional bird monitoring data to estimate occupancy and density for several sagebrush dependent species, including Sage-grouse, Sage Sparrow, Sage Thrasher, and Brewer’s Sparrow.
RMBO developed and distributed (via Survey Monkey – www.surveymonkey.com) a survey to assist us in both the development of the DST and the training sessions (Attachment 1). The survey was given to resource professionals, landowners, and researchers.
The Executive Director, Stewardship Director, and Biometrician have all attended meetings and had conversations to build and maintain partnerships with various agencies and organizations for this project. Meetings attended:
Sage Grouse Initiative partner meeting (June 2012)
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies meeting (September 2012)
Wyoming Chapter of The Wildlife Society annual conference (November 2012)
Partner meeting – Intermountain West Joint Venture (IWJV), NRCS, and RMBO (Dec. 13, 2012)
IWJV – State Conservation Partnership meeting (January 2013)
Integrated Monitoring for Bird Conservation Regions planning meeting (Jan. 28 – 30, 2013)
RMBO wrote an article about the project that was just published in IWJV newsletter (see http://iwjv.org/news/whats-good-sage-grouse-good-sparrows-thrashers-and-ranchers-too).
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Outputs – Describe and quantify progress towards achieving the project outcomes and provide any further information (such as unexpected outcomes) important for understanding project activities and outcome results.
The bird occupancy- and density- habitat models are almost completed. This information will help determine how land management actions can influence the vegetation structure of different sagebrush communities and in turn affect available habitat. These models will be incorporated into the DST.
A total of 145 people completed the survey. One interesting result for question 5 (when asked what is most important to people when making their land management decisions) is that “Effects on Wildlife” was the number one issue for the group (Attachment 2). Even when the landowners were teased out (n=15) “wildlife” was number 2 (behind water conservation). Of the different wildlife attributes to consider when making land management decisions (question 7 of the survey) the most important to the entire group was “if the land is home to federally regulated animal species;” however, this was #5 in importance to private landowners (Attachment 3). Landowners were most concerned with the “habitat needs of a suite of species” when considering wildlife and land management decisions. Finally, an overwhelming number of the participants (126 out of 145) were interested in learning more about sagebrush dependent birds and their habitat needs and would consider their needs when making land management decisions (134 out of 145) warranting the need for the training sessions (see Attachment 4).
National Sage-grouse Coordinator
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
5353 Yellowstone Rd. Suite 308A
Cheyenne, WY 82009
Office Phone: 3077722374
Western Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
2184 Richard St.
Prescott, AZ 86301
Office Phone: 9284435158
Wildlife Biologist/Migratory Bird Liaison
Bureau of Land Management
20 M Street, S.E.
Washington, DC 20003
Office Phone: 2029127271
Natural Resources Conservation Service
14th and Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20250
Office Phone: 2026900856