Members of the WLCI Local Project Development Teams have raised questions about sage-grouse use of past vegetation treatments and which treatment types (such as prescribed burns, mowing, or herbicide applications) best support sage-grouse habitat needs. This study is designed to evaluate (1) greater sage-grouse use of past and current vegetation treatments and (2) how treatment type, design, location, and site-based ecological variation may influence seasonal use and foraging behavior by sage-grouse. Information resulting from this study will be used to develop more effective treatment designs and approaches that support habitat needs for sage-grouse during nesting and brood rearing.
Biologists with the BLM and WGFD suggested studying sage-grouse responses to treatments that were conducted as part of the BLM mitigation plan for the Moxa Arch Infill Natural Gas Development Project. Between 1997 and 2002, numerous sagebrush areas were mowed or treated with the herbicide tebuthiuron (Spike®) in the Moxa Arch Infill area. The goal of these treatments was to mitigate the effects of energy development habitat and forage by creating a mosaic of sagebrush stands at different seral stages. Treatments were conducted within upland areas that represented habitats selected by pronghorn and by sage-grouse for nesting and early brood-rearing.
In FY2009, the USGS initiated a study within the Moxa Arch area to evaluate sage-grouse use of mowed and tebuthiuron-treated habitats and to ascertain whether birds are responding to differences in vegetation composition, the size and shape of treatment patches, distances between treated patches and occupied leks, and influences associated with energy infrastructure. To measure sage-grouse use, pellet counts were conducted along 4-m . 100-m belt transects established within treated and adjacent untreated sites during early brood rearing (late April to early May), late brood rearing (late June to early July), and early fall (September). In FY2010, the spatial extent of this study was expanded to include a total of 123 transects within or adjacent to all vegetation treatments in the Moxa Arch area. In addition to seasonal pellet surveys, in FY2011 vegetation composition and soil texture were measured along all the transects.
Last year, we used the National Agriculture Imagery Program to digitize all energy infrastructure (roads, pipelines, and well pads) within 1 km of our transects. This information helped us determine the proximity of energy infrastructure to each transect. In FY2014, we completed the pellet surveys, and all data from 2014 and previous years were incorporated into a single database. We also initiated data analyses and discussed preliminary findings with WLCI partners and Local Project Development Team members.
Product Completed in FY2014
Product Completed in FY2013
Product Completed in FY2012
Products Completed in FY2011
Products Completed in FY2010
Product Completed in FY2009
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