Wyoming BSUs were revised in February 2018, creating the most up-to-date version of this dataset. Data submitted by Montana and Oregon in May 2016 was used to update an earlier version of this feature class. The biologically significant unit (BSU) is a geographical/spatial area within Greater Sage-Grouse habitat that contains relevant and important habitats which is used as the basis for comparative calculations to support evaluation of changes to habitat. This BSU unit, or subset of this unit is used in the calculation of the anthropogenic disturbance threshold and in the adaptive management habitat trigger. BSU feature classes were submitted by individual states/EISs and consolidated by the Wildlife Spatial Analysis Lab. They are sometimes referred to as core areas/core habitat areas in the explanations below, which were consolidated from metadata submitted with BSU feature classes. These data provide a biological tool for planning in the event of human development in sage-grouse habitats. The intended use of all data in the BLM's GIS library is to support diverse activities including planning, management, maintenance, research, and interpretation. While the BSU defines the geographic extent and scale of these two measures, how they are calculated differs based on the specific measures to reflect appropriate assessment and evaluation as supported by scientific literature.
There are 10 BSUs for the Idaho and Southwestern Montana GRSG EIS sub-region. For the Idaho and Southwestern Montana Greater Sage-Grouse Plan Amendment FEIS the biologically significant unit is defined as: a geographical/spatial area within greater sage-grouse habitat that contains relevant and important habitats which is used as the basis for comparative calculations to support evaluation of changes to habitat. Idaho: BSUs include all of the Idaho Fish and Game modeled nesting and delineated winter habitat, based on 2011 inventories within Priority and/or Important Habitat Management Area (Alternative G) within a Conservation Area. There are eight BSUs for Idaho identified by Conservation Area and Habitat Management Area: Idaho Desert Conservation Area - Priority, Idaho Desert Conservation Area - Important, Idaho Mountain Valleys Conservation Area - Priority, Idaho Mountain Valleys Conservation Area - Important, Idaho Southern Conservation Area - Priority, Idaho Southern Conservation Area - Important, Idaho West Owyhee Conservation Area - Priority, and Idaho West Owyhee Conservation Area - Important. Raft River: Utah portion of the Sawtooth National Forest, 1 BSU. All of this areas was defined as Priority habitat in Alternative G. Raft River - Priority. Montana: All of the Priority Habitat Management Area. 1 BSU. SW Montana Conservation Area - Priority.
Montana BSUs were revised in May 2016 by the MT State Office. They are grouped together and named by the Population in which they are located: Northern Montana, Powder River Basin, Wyoming Basin, and Yellowstone Watershed. North and South Dakota BSUs have been grouped together also.
Within Colorado, a Greater Sage-Grouse GIS data set identifying Preliminary Priority Habitat (PPH) and Preliminary General Habitat (PGH) was developed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. This data is a combination of mapped grouse occupied range, production areas, and modeled habitat (summer, winter, and breeding). PPH is defined as areas of high probability of use (summer or winter, or breeding models) within a 4 mile buffer around leks that have been active within the last 10 years. Isolated areas with low activity were designated as general habitat. PGH is defined as Greater sage-grouse Occupied Range outside of PPH. Datasets used to create PPH and PGH: Summer, winter, and breeding habitat models. Rice, M. B., T. D. Apa, B. L. Walker, M. L. Phillips, J. H. Gammonly, B. Petch, and K. Eichhoff. 2012. Analysis of regional species distribution models based on combined radio-telemetry datasets from multiple small-scale studies. Journal of Applied Ecology in review. Production Areas are defined as 4 mile buffers around leks which have been active within the last 10 years (leks active between 2002-2011). Occupied range was created by mapping efforts of the Colorado Division of Wildlife (now Colorado Parks and Wildlife – CPW) biologists and district officers during the spring of 2004, and further refined in early 2012. Occupied Habitat is defined as areas of suitable habitat known to be used by sage-grouse within the last 10 years from the date of mapping. Areas of suitable habitat contiguous with areas of known use, which do not have effective barriers to sage-grouse movement from known use areas, are mapped as occupied habitat unless specific information exists that documents the lack of sage-grouse use. Mapped from any combination of telemetry locations, sightings of sage grouse or sage grouse sign, local biological expertise, GIS analysis, or other data sources. This information was derived from field personnel. A variety of data capture techniques were used including the SmartBoard Interactive Whiteboard using stand-up, real-time digitizing at various scales (Cowardin, M., M. Flenner. March 2003. Maximizing Mapping Resources. GeoWorld 16(3):32-35). Update August 2012: This dataset was modified by the Bureau of Land Management as requested by CPW GIS Specialist, Karin Eichhoff. Eichhoff requested that this dataset, along with the GrSG management zones (population range zones) dataset, be snapped to county boundaries along the UT-CO border and WY-CO border. The county boundaries dataset was provided by Karin Eichhoff. In addition, a few minor topology errors were corrected where PPH and PGH were overlapping. Update October 10, 2012: NHD water bodies greater than 100 acres were removed from GrSG habitat, as requested by Jim Cagney, BLM CO Northwest District Manager. 6 water bodies in total were removed (Hog Lake, South Delaney, Williams Fork Reservoir, North Delaney, Wolford Mountain Reservoir (2 polygons)). There were two “ SwampMarsh” polygons that resulted when selecting polygons greater than 100 acres; these polygons were not included. Only polygons with the attribute “ Lake Pond” were removed from GrSG habitat. Colorado Greater Sage Grouse management zones based on CDOW GrSG_PopRangeZones20120609.shp. Modified and renumbered by BLM 06/09/2012. The zones were modified again by the BLM in August 2012. The BLM discovered areas where PPH and PGH were not included within the zones. Several discrepancies between the zones and PPH and PGH dataset were discovered, and were corrected by the BLM. Zones 18-21 are linkages added as zones by the BLM. In addition to these changes, the zones were adjusted along the UT-CO boundary and WY-CO boundary to be coincident with the county boundaries dataset. This was requested by Karin Eichhoff, GIS Specialist at the CPW. She provided the county boundaries dataset to the BLM. Greater sage grouse GIS data set identifying occupied, potential and vacant/unknown habitats in Colorado. The data set was created by mapping efforts of the Colorado Division of Wildlife biologist and district officers during the spring of 2004, and further refined in the winter of 2005. Occupied Habitat: Areas of suitable habitat known to be used by sage-grouse within the last 10 years from the date of mapping. Areas of suitable habitat contiguous with areas of known use, which do not have effective barriers to sage-grouse movement from known use areas, are mapped as occupied habitat unless specific information exists that documents the lack of sage-grouse use. Mapped from any combination of telemetry locations, sightings of sage grouse or sage grouse sign, local biological expertise, GIS analysis, or other data sources. Vacant or Unknown Habitat: Suitable habitat for sage-grouse that is separated (not contiguous) from occupied habitats that either: 1) Has not been adequately inventoried, or 2) Has not had documentation of grouse presence in the past 10 years Potentially Suitable Habitat: Unoccupied habitats that could be suitable for occupation of sage-grouse if practical restoration were applied. Soils or other historic information (photos, maps, reports, etc.) indicate sagebrush communities occupied these areas. As examples, these sites could include areas overtaken by pinyon-juniper invasions or converted rangelands Update October 10, 2012: NHD water bodies greater than 100 acres were removed from GrSG habitat and management zones, as requested by Jim Cagney, BLM CO Northwest District Manager. 6 water bodies in total were removed (Hog Lake, South Delaney, Williams Fork Reservoir, North Delaney, Wolford Mountain Reservoir (2 polygons)). There were two “ SwampMarsh” polygons that resulted when selecting polygons greater than 100 acres; these polygons were not included. Only polygons with the attribute “ Lake Pond” were removed from GrSG habitat.
California and Nevada's BSUs were developed by Nevada Department of Wildlife's Greater Sage-Grouse Wildlife Staff Specialist and Sagebrush Ecosystem Technical Team Representative in January 2015. Nevada's Biologically Significant Units (BSUs) were delineated by merging associated PMUs to provide a broader scale management option that reflects sage grouse populations at a higher scale. PMU boundaries were then modified to incorporate Core Management Areas (August 2014; Coates et al. 2014) for management purposes. (Does not include Bi-State DPS.)
Oregon submitted updated BSU boundaries in May 2016 and again in October 2016, which were incorporated into this latest version. In Oregon, the Core Area maps and data were developed as one component of the Conservation Strategy for sage-grouse. Specifically, these data provide a tool in planning and identifying appropriate mitigation in the event of human development in sage-grouse habitats. These maps will assist in making recommendations for habitat categorization under ODFW Mitigation Policy (OAR 635-415-0000). Names were added to single polygons or groups of polygons that correspond to ODFW sage-grouse action areas. May and June, 2011 worked with Local Implementation Teams and Sage-grouse Conservation Planning team to revise Core and Low Density Area maps. The net result was ~5% of Core Area was removed and ~13% of Low Density removed. Most acreage was removed due to intensive agriculture or forested (ponderosa pine) habitat. After the revision, the Core Areas still include over 90% of Oregon’ breeding populations and 84% of occupied leks. Additionally, the revised maps are more accurate in the representation of sage-grouse habitat as it occurs within Core and Low Density Areas. For the Oct. 2016 update, provided by the OR State Office, the BSU boundaries were clipped to the Oregon SG ARMPA/ROD planning boundary, removing a portion of the PAC that previously fell outside of the planning area. In Oregon, Core Areas were defined by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to be used by BLM to map Oregon PACs, Priority Areas of Conservation for the Greater Sage-grouse RMP Amendments. The data was projected to R6 Albers and will be used as is. Core Area Approach to Habitat Mitigation for Greater Sage-Grouse in Oregon: The goal of these recommendations is to protect essential habitats to meet habitat and population objectives identified in this Plan. The objective of these recommendations is to avoid, minimize, or mitigate for impacts on sage-grouse habitats from energy development, its associated infrastructure or other industrial/commercial developments. The rapid increase in energy development across the West in recent years has initiated a landscape approach to wildlife conservation, referred to as core areas (Doherty et al. in press). The landscape approach prioritizes habitats based on measures that assess sage-grouse population and habitat relative abundance, and provides protection for a minimum of 75% of the population. The remaining 25% of the population area would be available for development with some level of stipulations and regulations, but likely at a reduced level. The strength of this approach is that it uses biological information to identify core areas with the objective of protecting the most important breeding areas. It also enables managers, at the landscape scale, to map and analyze the risks and necessary conservation measures for each core area. The limitation of this approach is that it focuses on breeding abundances. For sage-grouse the relative abundance data is drawn from spring lek counts of males. Thus, habitat conservation measures may be biased towards breeding and nesting only. Lek data have limitations as well including: variable sampling effort both spatially and temporally and detection probabilities have not been estimated for ground or aerial counts. Notwithstanding, these are the best data available for mapping sage-grouse distributions. Because the method outlined by Doherty et al. (in press) focuses on breeding habitats and ODFWs lek data is prone to variable sampling, an additional and complementary method was used to approximate seasonal use ranges, referred to as connectivity corridors. Using a home range estimator local and seasonal connectivity corridors were estimated. Thus, it is important to clarify some definitions about the mapping approach in Oregon. This document refers to Doherty's "core areas" (i.e., 25, 50, 75, 100%) as lek density strata. Lek density 25-75% polygons and the intersection of 100% strata and local connectivity polygons collectively define a "core area."
The Utah data set was created to facilitate the BLM Greater Sage-Grouse Land Use Planning Strategy – Utah Sub-Region addresses preparation of an environmental impact statement to consider amendments to 14 BLM land use plans throughout the State of Utah, as well as 6 Forest Service land use plans. This planning process was initiated through issuance of a Notice of Intent published on December 6, 2011. The purpose of the planning process is to address protection of greater sage-grouse, in partial response to a March 2010 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that found the greater sage-grouse was eligible for listing under the authorities of the Endangered Species Act. The planning process will prepare a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) and final environmental impact statement (FEIS) in close coordination with the US Forest Service, which is a cooperating agency on this planning effort. The planning effort will address the adequacy of regulatory mechanisms found in the land use plans, and will address the myriad threats to grouse and their habitat that were identified by the FWS.
Wyoming submitted updated PHMA data in October 2017, which replaced earlier versions of the BSUs in Wyoming. This data was further revised in February 2018 and is represented in this data layer. Priority Habitat Management Areas (PHMA) in Wyoming are designated by the nationwide Greater Sage Grouse Conservation effort undertaken by the BLM and USFS. PHMA includes all Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) designated Sage Grouse Core Areas (version 3, 2010), WGFD designated connectivity habitat (version 3, 2010) and USFS proposed core and connectivity habitat management areas in the Bridger Teton NF and Thunder Basin NG. WY PHMA was updated on 02/23/2018 to amend the boundaries of PHMA in Wyoming in order to conform with the Wyoming Sage-Grouse Core Areas (version 4) designated by Governor's Executive Order 2015-4.
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