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Landscapes and Grouse

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This digital collection includes presentations given at the 8th International Wildlife Ranching Symposium held in 2014 for the symposium theme: Landscapes and Grouse.


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Now showing 1 - 8 of 8
  • ItemOpen Access
    Conservation policy needs for privately owned grasslands
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Manes, Robert, speaker; Riley, Terry, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher
    The concept of affecting conservation at large scales is relatively simple: If strategies can be applied across traditional boundaries, then fragmenting effects of development and land management can be ameliorated for species that rely on large and intact habitats. The challenge, however, is that landscapes have multiple ownerships and land uses, and conservation entities often are insular. Individual organizations and agencies often lack resources, expertise, authority, and relationships essential to success. Agencies, non-government organizations, and landowners may exist in the same geographies without developing cooperative relationships necessary for large-scale conservation. Three case studies illustrate how this can be overcome. Common success factors include strong partnerships between government, non-government organizations, and landowners; and building broad recognition of the projects' merit. The case studies examined here include Montana's Rocky Mountain Front, Fortin Chacabuco Ranch near the Argentina-Chile border, and eastern Kansas' Flint Hills. In each case, the need for large-scale conservation is illuminated by one or more wide-ranging non-migratory species, and by a still-intact ecosystem that is significantly diminished across its former geographic expression. Also, in each case, conservation success resulted from either purposeful, or initially chance, cooperation between government agencies, NGOs, funders, and private landowners. This cooperation precipitated support for the projects, but also understanding among diverse and sometimes opposing interests. The purpose of this presentation is to strengthen the conservation community's ability to strategically and purposefully form and deploy the alliances necessary to achieve lasting large-scale conservation.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Oil and natural gas industry conservation measures to protect the Greater Sage-Grouse
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Meinhart, Brian, speaker; Riley, Terry, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    The potential listing of the Greater Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) is a major cause for concern for communities throughout the West. As the species inhabits 53 million acres in eleven western states, a listing of the sage-grouse would significantly impact a number of public land uses including agriculture, mining, recreation, and oil and natural gas exploration and production. These uses are not only important to the modern economic viability of western communities, but are part of the historic fabric of the West and a key component of our heritage. The Service has repeatedly stressed its preference for mandatory conservation measures, which it states will provide the regulatory certainty needed to ensure that protective measures actually occur. The oil and natural gas industry has for years committed to a wide range of mandatory efforts to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to the Greater Sage-Grouse and its habitat on public lands. These commitments are identified during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, and specify the terms under which an oil and natural gas project may move forward, thereby providing the regulatory certainty that the Service is looking for. Our presentation at the Wildlife Congress will feature a recent study by SWCA Environmental Consultants for Western Energy Alliance, which documents and quantifies these conservation measures. Specifically, the study shows that the existing NEPA process provides a robust regulatory mechanism for the protection of the sage-grouse, illustrates the effectiveness of those measures, and posits that oil and natural gas development and the conservation of the Greater Sage-Grouse in the West are mutually achievable goals. We hope this information will prove useful to the Service in the listing decision process, and along with other stakeholder-driven conservation efforts, demonstrate that the species and the western way of life can both thrive without the necessity of an ESA listing.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Conservation of Greater Sage-grouse: challenges managing a landscape scale species
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Stiver, San, speaker; Riley, Terry, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    Greater Sage-grouse are a western North American plains grouse that had a potential pre-European settlement distribution of approximately 1,200,483 km2, spanning 12 US states and three Canadian provinces. That distribution has declined to < 668,412 km2 in 11 states and two Canadian provinces. The Greater Sage-grouse was determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2010 to warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act, but were precluded because of higher conservation priorities. Concern for the species, by a host of conservation entities lead to a comprehensive range-wide conservation strategy which includes conservation efforts, monitoring, adaptive management, research and technology, communication and funding components. The strategy was based upon the need to manage Greater Sage-grouse from a range-wide perspective, spanning multiple jurisdictions and coordinating conservation efforts on a landscape scale. We will explore the biological, economic, temporal, and political challenges of managing this species and the sagebrush biome. Sage-grouse are a sagebrush obligate species; depending upon the plant for many of its life functions. Sage-grouse as individuals or populations require large tracts of sagebrush, often spanning jurisdictions and land ownership to meet their needs. Sagebrush is a very slow growing shrub that is vulnerable to wildfire and disturbance. Some species of sagebrush require decades to reach a preferred age class for sage-grouse. Resources important to Western States will necessarily be impacted by an ESA listing and the prospect of an ESA listing has the attention of politicians from the Administration, the Senate and House, Governors, State Legislatures and County Commissions.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse reintroduction to Middle Park
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Richert, Josh, speaker; Kossler, John, speaker; Riley, Terry, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    The Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus; CSTG) is the rarest of six sub-species of grouse that are endemic to sagebrush, shrubsteppe and mountain shrub communities of western North America. It currently occupies less than 10% of its historic range, including 3 counties in northwestern Colorado, due to habitat loss, energy development, changes in land management and urban expansion. CSTG populations had been documented in the Lower Blue River Basin of Middle Park in North-Central Colorado as recently as the mid-1950s, so a cooperative effort between Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and private landowner Blue Valley Ranch (BVR) sought to re-introduce the bird to this area. Trapping occurred from the Fall 2006 - Spring 2008 seasons in the Hayden and Craig areas of Northwestern Colorado. A total of 91 females and 58 males were released on Blue Valley Ranch from 2006 - 2008. Approximately 15 males and 27 females were deployed with VHF radio transmitters for monitoring. Habitat and nesting data were also collected for comparison with the trapping area. Since the release, two permanent leks have been established with high counts of 21 and 26 males in 2014, with two additional lek sites needing confirmation in 2015. The project has been successful in establishing a new population of CSTG on a private, 25,000 acre conservation ranch within their historical range, and CPW plans to augment the population with additional CSTG releases over the next 2-3 years in the Williams Fork Drainage, about 8 miles east of BVR.
  • ItemOpen Access
    An ecological conundrum: just what makes good Lesser Prairie-Chicken habitat?
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Olson, Steven, speaker; Riley, Terry, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    The Lesser Prairie-Chicken is native to the prairie shrubland ecosystems of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Dramatic population declines, combined with existing and perceived future threats, were the impetus for listing the chicken as 'Threatened' under the Endangered Species Act. On the Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands the decline has been evident since the mid-1990s, but has been particularly severe over the past decade. Between 2012 and 2013, prairie-chicken numbers fell 50 percent across the species range. These concerns led to the development of the Cimarron-Comanche National Grasslands Lesser Prairie-Chicken Management Plan. As we developed our plan, it became evident that defining ‘quality' prairie-chicken habitat was not a simple task. The prairie-chicken evolved in an area of sand prairie with tall grasses accounting for up to 90 percent of the vegetation, thus providing ample lekking, nesting, and brood rearing habitat for the birds. That habitat was forever altered by European settlement and disturbance of native prairie. Despite broad changes in the vegetation, the sand prairie still appears to be capable of producing more tall grasses and fewer shrubs. Our strategy includes a thorough inventory of existing conditions, an intense monitoring plan, and an experimental approach to answer the question: 'Just what makes good Lesser Prairie-Chicken habitat?' The answer to that question on the national grasslands will be the same for private lands in the vicinity, leading to cooperative management of Lesser Prairie-Chicken among land owners across the species range.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Landscape conservation takes money: how conservation easements are revolutionizing habitat protection and management in the United States
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Manes, Stephanie, speaker; Riley, Terry, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    When land is privately or communally-owned, the self-interests of the property owners dictate the fate of the land. For some, generating money is the top priority; for others, keeping the land intact for future generations drives all decisions. One tool serves both needs while preserving private property rights, communal sovereignty and the ability for landowners to generate income from hunting, eco-tourism and compatible agricultural production. Voluntary legal extinguishment of development rights (Conservation Easements), either purchased or charitably-donated, create the financial incentives necessary to achieve lasting protection and management of habitat at large scale in perpetuity. Discussed is a brief history of conservation easements in the United States, the legal and regulatory framework necessary for success, and a summary of the dramatic increase in the use of conservation easements to achieve federal, state, local and endangered species conservation objectives.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Lesser Prairie-Chicken range-wide conservation plan
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Klute, David, speaker; Riley, Terry, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    The lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) is a prairie grouse endemic to the southern Great Plains where it occurs primarily on private land. In March 2014 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined the lesser prairie-chicken warranted listing as a Threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) developed the Lesser Prairie-chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan (range-wide plan) to set population and habitat goals, identify focal areas and connectivity zones required to sustain and expand lesser-prairie-chicken populations, and encourage coordination of habitat management activities both prior to and after the ESA listing. A novel aspect of the range-wide plan is a voluntary mitigation framework which (1) financially incentivizes avoidance and minimization of impacts from industry at broad and local spatial scales and (2) financially incentivizes the implementation of beneficial conservation practices by private landowners to offset impacts through the use of both short-term management contracts and permanent conservation easements. With the implementation of the Threatened listing, a special 4(d) rule provides incidental take coverage for activities conducted by participants in the range-wide plan. As of May 2014 over 6.2 million acres have been enrolled in the range-wide plan and associated Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA). Enrollment fees of over $43 million have been committed to fund mitigation offsets in perpetuity for future impacts on enrolled acres. Contracts on private land in high-quality lesser prairie-chicken habitat are being implemented to offset impacts anticipated in 2014.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Native grasslands of the Great Plains of North America: using prairie grouse as flagship species for restoration
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Yeats, Scott, speaker; Haufler, Jonathan, speaker; Mehl, Carolyn, speaker; Riley, Terry, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    The grasslands of the Great Plains of North America historically covered over 240 million hectares and supported a wide diversity of ecosystems and wildlife species. Today, many of these ecosystems are among those at greatest risk and many of the species they support are in serious decline. While some public lands exist, the Great Plains are predominantly in private ownership. This means that conservation efforts must first recognize what private landowners require from their lands, and then make conservation initiatives compatible with and workable within landowner requirements. Maintaining and restoring native grassland ecosystems is essential if maintaining the wildlife and biodiversity of the Great Plains is a goal. Prairie grouse (lesser and greater prairie-chickens and sharp-tailed grouse) are effective flagship species for emphasizing the need for grassland restoration and indicators of the sizes and distributions of needed grassland areas. Prairie Grouse Partners, a collaborative effort of the Ecosystem Management Research Institute, North American Grouse Partnership, Pheasants Forever, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, American Bird Conservancy, and the Mule Deer Foundation, have launched an initiative to restore native grasslands using prairie grouse as flagship species. Initial projects have engaged willing landowners in the application of treatments to restore grasslands. Management practices including prescribed burning, prescribed grazing, seeding of native species, chemical control of invasive species, and mechanical control of invading woody species have been applied and monitored to determine their effectiveness across different types of grassland sites. Initial results are promising, but larger coordinated efforts are needed to meet this conservation challenge.