The Platte Valley watershed area between Seminoe Reservoir and the Wyoming/Colorado state line provides important seasonal habitat for a variety of wildlife species including five big game species (mule deer, antelope, elk, bighorn sheep and moose), as well as identified core areas for greater sage grouse, and historic sage grouse ranges outside of core areas. Habitat conditions throughout the watershed center on proper multiple use management, including domestic livestock and wildlife, so that the standards for rangeland health on both uplands and riparian areas are met. The area was reviewed for conformance with the Wyoming Standards and Guidelines for Healthy Rangelands in 2004 and 2005. While the majority of the area met the standards, portions failed to meet riparian standards, and additionally, concerns were raised in the assessment that in some cases, upland habitat may not be at or moving towards a “desired future condition.” Transitional mule deer habitat (mountain foothills on the forest fringe) were noted as being composed of even-aged mature shrub stands moving towards decadence in many cases. Furthermore, many fencelines in important migration corridors through this transition range and winter habitat, although necessary, are not built to BLM and/or WGFD standards for wildlife passage. Recently, declining mule deer herds in the valley have led to management initiatives which target the species. In order to address concerns with limited seasonal habitat (transition and crucial winter ranges), opportunities abound to implement management actions which will enhance habitats and modify or remove barriers to seasonal movements. Naturally occurring water sources that may have failed to meet the standards for riparian health can be protected and developed, allowing for continued use of the source by livestock and wildlife species while removing impacts to the associated riparian area. Many existing pasture and allotment fences can be converted to BLM and WGFD standards for wildlife passage. The overall goal of this project is, therefore, to provide protection of natural water sources and associated riparian zones while continuing to provide dispersed watering locations for livestock and big game, and to remove and/or modify existing barriers to wildlife migrations and movements. Identified objectives of the project are to develop and protect between 3 to 4 naturally occurring spring sites within the project boundaries (see attached map) during 2011. It is felt that from 3 to 5 miles of pasture/allotment fencing can be targeted for modification during 2011.
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