Southwest Wyoming contains abundant energy resources, wildlife, habitat, open spaces, and outdoor recreational opportunities. Although energy exploration and development have been taking place in the region since the late 1800s, the pace of development for fossil fuels and renewable energy increased significantly in the early 2000s. This and the associated urban and exurban development are leading to landscape-level environmental and socioeconomic changes that have the potential to diminish wildlife habitat and other natural resources, and the quality of human lives, in Southwest Wyoming. The potential for negative effects of these changes prompted Federal, State, and local agencies to undertake the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative for Southwest Wyoming
Human infrastructure and invasive plant occurrence across rangelands of southwestern Wyoming, U.S.A
Manier, D.J., C. Aldridge, M. O’Donnell, and S. Schell
This paper describes a spatiotemporal land use map for a rural county in the western United States. Sublette County, Wyoming has undergone recent land use change in the form of heightened rural residential development on private land and increased energy development on both public and private land. In this study we integrate energy production data, population census data, ownership parcel data, and a series of Landsat Thematic Mapper and Enhanced Thematic Mapper scenes (over a 25-year period) to create a map that illustrates the changing landscape. Spatial change on the landscape is mapped at 30 square meters, congruent with a Landsat pixel. Sublette County has a wealth of wildlife and associated habitat which is affected by both types of growth. While we do not attempt to quantify the effect of disturbance on wildlife species, we believe our results can provide important baseline data that can be incorporated into land use planning and ecological wildlife research at the landscape scale.
U.S. Geological Survey science for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative—2011 annual report
Bowen, Z.H., C.L. Aldridge, P.J. Anderson, T.J. Assal, L.R.H. Biewick, S.W. Blecker, G.K. Boughton, S. Bristol, N.B. Carr, A.D. Chalfoun, G.W. Chong, M.L. Clark, J.E. Diffendorfer, B.C. Fedy, K. Foster, S.L. Garman, S. Germaine, M.G. Hethcoat, J. Holloway, C. Homer, M.J. Kauffman, D. Keinath, N. Latysh, D. Manier, R.R. McDougal, C.P. Melcher, K.A. Miller, J. Montag, E.M. Olexa, C.J. Potter, S. Schell, S.L. Shafer, D.B. Smith, L.L. Stillings, M.J. Sweat, M. Tuttle, and A.B. Wilson
This is the fourth annual report on the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) science and technical assistance activities conducted for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI). The WLCI is a partnership of Federal, State, and local agencies seeking to conserve the vast and nationally important natural resources of Southwest Wyoming in the face of rapid land-use changes. The WLCI mission is to implement a long-term, science-based program to assess and enhance the quality and quantity of aquatic and terrestrial habitats in Southwest Wyoming, while facilitating responsible development through local collaboration and partnerships. The USGS is the WLCI partner conducting most of the science and technical assistance activities that lay a foundation for conservation and management activities, whereas the land management partners (Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Wyoming Fish and Game Department, Wyoming Department of Agriculture, and local county commissioners and conservation districts) are implementing the habitat enhancement and restoration projects, conservation actions, and best management practices. In accordance with the WLCI Memorandum of Understanding (see https://my.usgs.gov/Public/WLCI/Bibliography/MOU_July_2008.pdf), the science USGS is conducting for the WLCI includes evaluating the effectiveness of habitat enhancement and restoration projects, assessing current and modeling future ecosystem conditions, and studying the short- to long-term and cumulative effects of land-use changes on target species, focal habitats (sagebrush steppe, aspen, mountain shrublands, riparian, and aquatic communities), and the overall Southwest Wyoming landscape.
The USGS WLCI Science Team has included more than 50 individuals from at least seven disciplines, including biology, geology, geography, hydrology, sociology, remote sensing/geographic information systems (GIS), and data and information management. The USGS also provides a liaison to the WLCI for the crucial work of coordinating WLCI activities and facilitating the integration of science with work conducted by WLCI partners. Tasks entail informing the development of adaptive management, best management practices, and prioritization of habitat projects based on results of USGS science and other studies; integrating existing data with new knowledge and technologies; and disseminating the outcomes of our science to partners and other stakeholders. This report and the three annual reports that preceded it describe the annual accomplishments and findings for each of our current science and technical assistance activities. Here, we highlight some of the results and products of USGS work already available to, or in use by, WLCI partners...
Data resources for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) Integrated Assessment (IA)
Assal, T.J., S.L. Garman, Z.H. Bowen, P.J. Anderson, D. Manier, and R.R. McDougal
The data contained in this report were compiled, modified, and analyzed for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) Integrated Assessment (IA). The WLCI is a long-term science based effort to assess and enhance aquatic and terrestrial habitats at a landscape scale in southwest Wyoming while facilitating responsible energy development through local collaboration and partnerships. The IA is an integrated synthesis and analysis of WLCI resource values based on best available data and information collected from multiple agencies and organizations. It is a support tool for landscape-scale conservation planning and evaluation, and a data and analysis resource that can be used for addressing specific management questions. The IA analysis was conducted using a Geographic Information System in a raster (that is, a grid) environment using a cell size of 30 meters. To facilitate the interpretation of the data in a regional context, mean values were summarized and displayed at the subwatershed unit (WLCI subwatersheds were subset from the National Hydrography Dataset, Hydrologic Unit Code 12/Level 6). A dynamic mapping platform, accessed via the WLCI webpage at http://www.wlci.govis used to display the mapped information, and to access underlying resource values that were combined to produce the final mapped results.
The raster data used in the IA are provided here for use by interested parties to conduct additional analyses and can be accessed via the WLCI webpage. This series contains 74 spatial data sets: WLCI subwatersheds (vector) and 73 geotiffs (raster) that are segregated into the major categories of Multicriteria Index (including Resource Index and Condition), Change Agents, and Future Change. The Total Multicriteria Index is composed of the Aquatic Multicriteria Index and the Terrestrial Multicriteria Index. The Aquatic Multicriteria Index is composed of the Aquatic Resource Index and the Aquatic Condition. The Aquatic Resource Index is composed of the following components: Groundwater, Special Management Areas, and Priority Areas. The Aquatic Condition is composed of the following components: Focal Species, Species of Concern, Focal Ecosystems, and Proper Functioning Condition. The Terrestrial Multicriteria Index is composed of the Terrestrial Resource Index and the Terrestrial Condition. The Terrestrial Resource Index is composed of the following components: Special Management Areas, Agriculture, and Priority Areas. The Terrestrial Condition is composed of the following components: Focal Species, Big Game, Species of Concern, Rare Plants, and Focal Ecosystems. The Change Agents are composed the following components: Roads, Energy, Mines, and Urban. The Future Change is composed of the following components: Oil-Gas-Coal, Wind, Minerals, Climate-Temperature, Invasive Species, and Urban.
Development of assessment methodologies in support of USGS integrated science-Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative
McDougal, R.R., J.A. Holloway, T.S. Schmidt, L.L. Stillings, L.W. Tuttle, and S.W. Blecker
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Geological Society of America, October 31- November 3, 2010, Denver, Colorado
This is the third report produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) to detail annual work activities. The first report described activities for 2007 and 2008, and the second report covered work activities for FY09. This third report covers work activities conducted in FY2010, and it continues the 2009 approach of reporting on all the individual activities to help give WLCI partners and other readers the full scope of what has been accomplished. New in this year's report is an additional section for each work activity that outlines the work planned for the following fiscal year. In FY2010, there were 35 ongoing/expanded, completed, or new projects conducted under the five major multi-disciplinary science and technical-assistance activities...
U.S. Geological Survey science for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative—2009 annual report
Bowen, Z.H., C.L. Aldridge, P.J. Anderson, T.J. Assal, L.R.H. Biewick, S.W. Blecker, S. Bristol, N.B. Carr, A.D. Chalfoun, G.W. Chong, et al
This is the second report produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) to detail annual work activities. The first report described work activities for 2007 and 2008; this report covers work activities conducted in 2009. Important differences between the two reports are that (1) this report does not lump all the Effectiveness Monitoring activities together as last year’s report did, which will allow WLCI partners and other readers to fully appreciate the scope and accomplishments of those activities, and (2) this report does not include a comprehensive appendix of the background details for each work activity. In 2009, there were 29 ongoing or completed activities, and there were 5 new work activities conducted under the 5 original major multi-disciplinary science and technical assistance activities: (1) Baseline Synthesis; (2) Targeted Monitoring and Research; (3) Data and Information Management; (4) Integration and Coordination; and (5) Decisionmaking and Evaluation. New work included (1) developing a soil-quality index, (2) developing methods for assessing levels of and relationships between mercury and soil organic matter, and (3) ascertaining element source, mobility, and fate. Additionally, (4) remotely sensed imagery was used to assess vegetation as an indicator of soil condition and geology, and (5) an Integrated Assessment (IA) was initiated to synthesize what has been learned about WLCI systems to date, and to develop associated decision tools, maps, and a comprehensive report.
Resources for Understanding the Effects of Wind Energy Development
This Wyoming wind-turbine data set represents locations of wind turbines found within Wyoming as of August 1, 2009. Each wind turbine is assigned to a wind farm. For each turbine, this report contains information about the following: potential megawatt output, rotor diameter, hub height, rotor height, land ownership, county, wind farm power capacity, the number of units currently associated with its wind farm, the wind turbine manufacturer and model, the wind farm developer, the owner of the wind farm, the current purchaser of power from the wind farm, the year the wind farm went online, and the status of its operation. Some attributes are estimates based on information that was obtained through the American Wind Energy Association and miscellaneous online reports. The locations are derived from August 2009 true-color aerial photographs made by the National Agriculture Imagery Program; the photographs have a positional accuracy of approximately ±5 meters. The location of wind turbines under construction during the development of this data set will likely be less accurate than the location of turbines already completed.
The original purpose for developing the data presented here was to evaluate the effect of wind energy development on seasonal habitat used by greater sage-grouse. Additionally, these data will provide a planning tool for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative Science Team and for other wildlife- and habitat-related projects underway at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Fort Collins Science Center. Specifically, these data will be used to quantify disturbance of the landscape related to wind energy as well as quantifying indirect disturbances to flora and fauna.
This data set was developed for the 2010 project “Seasonal predictive habitat models for greater sage-grouse in Wyoming.” This project’s spatially explicit seasonal distribution models of sage-grouse in Wyoming will provide resource managers with tools for conservation planning. These specific data are being used for assessing the effect of disturbance resulting from wind energy development within Wyoming on sage-grouse populations.