Assessing and Enhancing Aquatic and Terrestrial Habitats at the Landscape Scale

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The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative, WLCI, is a long-term, science-based program to assess and enhance aquatic and terrestrial habitats at the landscape scale in southwest Wyoming, while facilitating responsible development through local collaboration and partnerships.

The WLCI combines the resources of multiple groups across southwest Wyoming to build a common vision for this large area, or landscape. The WLCI vision is for an area that balances open spaces, abundant wildlife, traditional agriculture and production of energy and other resources. Supporting this vision is use of science-based information and local expertise, development of partnerships, and exchange of information.

Wyoming encompasses some of the highest quality wildlife habitats in the Intermountain West:

  • Sagebrush, mountain shrub, aspen, riparian and aquatic focus communities provide crucial habitat for deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, greater sage-grouse, a variety of fish and non-game species.
  • This region's vast open spaces support an important livestock industry and provide essential corridors for migratory wildlife.
  • Lands and water in southwest Wyoming offer some of the country's most sought-after recreational opportunities.

Potential Impacts on Wildlife and Habitat

Southwest Wyoming has an abundance of renewable and non-renewable energy resources. The combination of energy development and industrial and residential expansion with associated roads, drilling, pipelines, transmission lines, and other human-generated activities is occurring in wildlife habitat areas.

The WLCI works to ensure the wildlife and habitat remain viable across the landscape, even with significant development pressure. The priority objectives addressed within the focus communities are:

  • fragmented habitats
  • invasive species
  • water quality and quantity

The WLCI works to maintain, improve, or restore the ecological function and health within the high quality wildlife habitats.

WLCI_OilRigs.pngPhoto courtesy of WLCI

Conservation at a Landscape Scale

The greatest value of wildlife conservation is achieved when wildlife enhancement is conducted at a landscape scale. A landscape is a land area composed of a diversity of habitat types which encompass year-round fish and wildlife needs such as winter range or migration corridors. Access to a variety of habitat types and seasonal ranges within a landscape is essential for wildlife to find food, shelter, and raise their young. To be successful, landscape scale conservation needs to involve collaboration with all state, federal, and private landowners.

WLCI_PronghornMigration.pngPhoto courtesy of WLCI

Partners

The WLCI is an interagency working group of partners that is beginning the process of establishing a much larger coalition of government and non-government organizations. Current partners include:

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • National Park Service
  • Wyoming Game and Fish Department
  • Wyoming Department of Agriculture
  • Wyoming State Governor
  • Southwest Wyoming County Commissions
  • Southwest Wyoming Conservation Districts
  • Local Project Development Teams: The WLCI has four geographically-based local project development teams that identify resource issues and areas important for the landscape and create projects to address identified needs. Each team includes local biologists, range managers, conservation districts, landowners, county representatives, and other interested parties.
The Green River near the town of Green River, Wyoming. Photo courtesy of WLCI

This article was contributed by the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative. The WLCI collaborates with the Great Northern LCC to strengthen comprehension and analysis of landscape scale information to improve conservation efforts by leveraging funds, improving information sharing, and building on mutual goals. The WLCI has also agreed to be a lead organization for the Great Northern LCC Sage Steppe Partner Forum.

Visit Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative for more information and available resources.