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The Muddy Creek watershed, part of the Upper Colorado River watershed, is a semi-arid catchment in a sagebrush steppe ecosystem. A synoptic watershed assessment was conducted in 2010 to identify areas within the watershed that are more susceptible to mobilization of trace elements that occur in soils forming on marine shale. Samples of soil, stream sediment, and water were collected and assayed for major elements and a suite of trace elements. Formation waters discharged from two wells within the watershed were sampled in 2011 to evaluate their potential contribution of organic carbon, nitrogen (N) species, and trace elements to surface waters. In FY2012, analyses of the soil, rock, and water samples collected...
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Limits on the time and financial resources available for monitoring efforts, coupled with the complexities of natural resources and stakeholders, are challenges in resource monitoring. To help address these and related challenges, the USGS Monitoring Team (MT) has linked conceptual monitoring specialists with habitat and wildlife biologists to inform and develop creative, scientifically defensible approaches for monitoring the status and trends of populations and habitats across the WLCI region. This collaboration has led to spatially balanced monitoring designs that will make it possible to interpret conditions across the WLCI region and a mechanism for integrating species’ distributions and population responses...
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Regional-scale studies, such as those being conducted for the WLCI, are well suited for the use of remote-sensing techniques. Derivative products from remote-sensing instruments, such as Landsat, have been used successfully for decades in studies of geology, vegetation, environmental change, and many other types of scientific research. The continuous coverage of Landsat data since 1972 makes it possible to establish baseline conditions in areas affected by renewable and nonrenewable energy development. In this study, various Landsat datasets are being used to map current and pre-development conditions in the WLCI study area for a selected set of scientific interests. Landsat scenes have been mosaicked to produce...
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In the WLCI region, the quality and condition of sagebrush steppe is a concern given the extent of rangewide land-use change, habitat conversion, and rapid energy development in sagebrush systems. Three migratory songbird species are considered near-obligates of sagebrush shrublands: Brewer’s and sagebrush sparrows and sage thrasher, all of which are designated Species of Great Conservation Need in Wyoming (Wyoming Game and Fish Department, 2010) and nest in Green River Basin. In collaboration with the WGFD, we initiated this multiphase project to address the WLCI management need to identify the condition and distribution of sagebrush songbird habitats and key drivers of change in those habitats. In Phase I (2008...
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Muddy Creek, a tributary to the Little Snake River, is a semi-arid catchment that drains about 1,200 mi2 in south-central Wyoming. The drainage basin is characterized as a sagebrush steppe ecosystem. The area is undergoing energy exploration and development, including conventional natural gas wells and coalbed natural gas wells. Geologic formations that underlie the drainage basin include soluble marine shales, which are a natural source of dissolved solids (for example, sodium, chloride, and sulfate) and Se. As a result, the water quality of Muddy Creek is naturally high in dissolved constituents, including Se. The WDEQ has listed chloride and Se as impairments to aquatic life for Muddy Creek. Dissolved solids...
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This is a collaborative, two-part project to compile and analyze resource data to support WLCI efforts. Part 1 entails directing data synthesis and assessment activities to ensure that they will inform and support the WLCI LPDTs and Coordination Team in their conservation planning efforts, such as developing conservation priorities and strategies, identifying priority areas for conservation actions, evaluating and ranking conservation projects, and evaluating spatial and ecological relations between proposed habitat projects and WLCI priorities. In FY2014, we helped the Coordination Team complete the WLCI Conservation Action Plan and BLM’s annual report, and we provided maps and other materials to assist with ranking...
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Managing, analyzing, providing, and using data and information resources assembled or generated for the WLCI are essential for supporting WLCI goals. This project addresses those needs by providing online tools for (1) discovering and using existing data and information; (2) cataloging, preserving, and archiving those resources; and (3) making them available to WLCI researchers, decision-makers, and the public. A WLCI Data Catalog (Catalog) hosted by USGS is available at www.wlci.gov. The Catalog includes information about and access to data sets, projects, publications, and Web sites relevant to the WLCI. This Catalog is continuously maintained and enhanced to meet user needs, capitalize on technological innovations,...
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Restoration and maintenance of aspen communities is a BLM priority in the Little Mountain Ecosystem, and the USGS has been working with the BLM and the WGFD to monitor aspen stands in that area as part of its WLCI Effectiveness Monitoring work. LANDFIRE and ReGAP maps are considered the best spatial products for representing aspen distribution at regional and landscape scales; however, these products were not designed to support decisions at localized scales, such as that of the Little Mountain Ecosystem. In 2010, this study filled a critical information gap with production of a model (fine-scale map) that delineates aspen distribution for the Little Mountain Ecosystem. To accomplish this, we used classification...
A program as large and complex as the WLCI requires significant coordination and management, as well as the integration of what is learned from science with the decision-making and program-evaluation processes. For the WLCI, coordination and integration are accomplished through the WLCI Coordination Team, which is composed of one member each from the USGS, BLM, FWS, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and Wyoming Department of Agriculture. There is also a USGS member on the Science and Technical Advisory Committee. Under the direction of the WLCI Executive Committee, the Coordination Team manages the fiscal and logistical operations necessary to meet the goals and objectives of the WLCI. The Coordination Team also...
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This work centers on using remote-sensing tools and protocols for monitoring long-term changes in vegetation cover across the WLCI region. This information is crucial for understanding patterns of change within sagebrush habitats, including historical changes and potential trajectories of future changes. Our study targets five components of vegetation cover: all shrubs, sagebrush shrubs, herbaceous vegetation, litter, and bare ground, which we quantify by one-percent intervals. Based on samples collected both in the field and from satellite imagery, the USGS can evaluate and quantify the amount and distribution of long-term changes in the target components. This work and its associated products represent the operational...
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Partners and stakeholders of the WLCI have expressed the need to access descriptive information and locations of (1) "on-the-ground" habitat conservation projects managed by the WLCI Coordination Team and (2) science projects being conducted by USGS and other science-agency partners. In response to this need, WLCI project information is documented in the Clearinghouse and available on the WLCI Web site (www.wlci.gov). The Clearinghouse provides an interactive map environment enabling users to click on geospatially referenced points, view project information, link to additional resources (including data), and use search and filter capabilities to constrain the information returned. Project information is entered...
Energy and other forms of development can have significant effects on ranching and farming communities. Jobes (1987) characterizes these communities as small, isolated, stable, interdependent, and independent of outsiders, and argues that energy development can devastate such communities because the informal institutions that hold them together (for example, community meetings) are disrupted and replaced by formal institutions. Many people may begin to feel like outsiders in their own communities as the population grows and changes rapidly. This causes some people to feel less satisfaction with their lives and move away. The lack of current research on how energy development affects ranching communities provides...
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Project Synopsis: the goal of this study is to define the potential accumulation of hydrocarbons in surface waters and aquatic habitats of the New Fork River and to establish a baseline of potential toxicological effects on aquatic life.
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Description of Work Participation on the Lake Erie Lakewide Management Plan Workgroup and related subcommittees such as toxics, sources and loads, nutrients, and biodiversity. Attend meetings and conferences associated with LE LAMP activities. This includes The Lake Erie Millennium Network, CSMI, Ohio Phosphorus Task Force, and other meetings or workshops addressing nutrient and toxicity issues in Lake Erie. Communicate USGS activities in the Lake Erie Basin that can influence understanding or impact decision making.
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Description of Work To date many meetings have been attended and coalitions developed between USGS Water Mission area and NYSDEC and EPA region 2 which have spun off into several other monitoring and BUI delisting projects funded by Region 2 through the USGS/EPA IA. This has been a perfect example of leveraging USGS GLRI funds to develop additional GLRI-related program for the Lake Ontario LaMP partners, especially for tributary nutrient and sediment loading to Lake Ontario and helping collect and assess the data needed to remove BUI impairments at the Rochester Embayment and St. Lawrence/Massena AOCs for benthos and phytoplankton impairments.
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Ongoing energy development in the northern Green River structural basin necessitates information about groundwater resources that supply water to the basin’s wells. Many human activities in that area, including pumping water from the aquifers for agricultural, domestic, and industrial use, and penetration of the heterogeneous (that is, complex intertonguing of layers) aquifers (see Bartos and others, 2015) during deeper drilling for natural gas, have the potential to impact the aquifer system that supplies water to most wells in the area. We initiated this study in FY2012 as “A Retrospective Assessment of Groundwater Occurrence in the Normally Pressured Lance Formation and a Field Reconnaissance of Existing Water...
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Since 1990, more than 2 million dollars has been spent on habitat-restoration and enhancement projects in the Little Mountain Ecosystem. Many of these efforts have focused on restoring aspen communities to maintain or improve water quality and to enhance ungulate habitat. During 2009, biologists from the WGFD Green River Regional Office established long-term monitoring plots on Little Mountain to evaluate whether the increased number of ungulates using those stands is in balance with targets set for aspen regeneration. The WGFD is collecting data for developing an index of live to dead trees. The USGS is supporting this effort by measuring stand composition to study herbivory patterns at locations associated with...
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The shrub-steppe system that dominates the WLCI region separates the northern and southern Rocky Mountains; thus, forested areas in the WLCI region are limited. In the Green River Basin of southwest Wyoming, riparian and aspen woodlands comprise only a small fraction of the landscape, but many agencies perceive them as priority habitats because they make important contributions to landscape connectivity and biodiversity at local, regional, and geographic scales. Not only do aspen communities support a unique and diverse suite of species in the WLCI region, they provide important forage and cover for ungulates, help maintain headwater stream function, and they may serve as stepping stones for migratory forest birds...


map background search result map search result map Application of Comprehensive Assessment to Support Decisionmaking and Conservation Actions New Fork River Infiltration of Trace Organics Lakewide Management Plan Capacity Support by U.S. Geological Survey - LAKE ERIE Lakewide Management Plan Capacity Support by U.S. Geological Survey - LAKE ONTARIO New Fork River Infiltration of Trace Organics Application of Comprehensive Assessment to Support Decisionmaking and Conservation Actions Lakewide Management Plan Capacity Support by U.S. Geological Survey - LAKE ONTARIO Lakewide Management Plan Capacity Support by U.S. Geological Survey - LAKE ERIE