Partnerships Provide for Better Brood Habitat

In the mid-1950s, an oil company drilling test wells approximately 26 miles west of Farson, Wyoming, struck water instead of oil. Since that time, the Buckhorn Flowing Well has been a dependable source of water for livestock and wildlife in a notably arid area. In 2010, the permittee of the Eighteen Mile Allotment, administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rock Springs Field Office, suggested replacing the dilapidated fence around the well with a more substantial enclosure to protect the wellhead and downstream riparian area. The new fence would be designed to prevent trampling of riparian habitats while protecting the wellhead. As plans were developed for the project, monitoring of wildlife began that later demonstrated the use of these insect-rich habitats by sage-grouse and their broods.

With a clear indication that the project was of value to sage-grouse, a proposal for implementation was presented to the Southwest Wyoming Local Sage-grouse Working Group. Project supporters, however, struggled to find an affordable, durable fencing material that would exclude livestock and larger species of wildlife, such as wild horses. Devon Energy provided the answer by generously donating over 1,500 feet of pipe to use as fencing material. Knight Oil and Tool then stepped in to haul the soon-to-be fencing material from Riverton, Wyoming to the Buckhorn Flowing Well site. In the fall of 2011, the BLM and WLCI funded a contract crew to install posts for the project and a BLM crew finished the welding to construct a one-acre enclosure protecting the wellhead and the head of the perennial stream.

In 2012, the Encana Corporation provided an additional 12,000 feet of pipe to expand the effort to improve riparian habitat downstream of the Buckhorn Flowing Well. Another company, M & M Trucking, donated transportation of this material to the project site. These materials will be used to construct a two-rail wildlife-friendly fence that will enhance approximately 26 acres of riparian habitats. WLCI hopes to employ a local youth group to assist with construction of this portion of the fencing. With savings realized as a result of donated materials and services, WLCI has been able to purchase a post-pounding attachment to facilitate the installation of wildlife-friendly fences. The current fencing is the beginning of a broader effort to improve approximately 110 acres of riparian habitats associated with the Buckhorn Flowing Well. Reduced grazing pressure within the enclosures, along with future riparian plantings, will promote re-vegetation of the stream banks and riparian habitats. The revitalization of the riparian area will provide additional greater sage-grouse brood rearing habitat, while an open water source between the enclosures will provide a continuing water-source for livestock and other species of wildlife. Wildlife monitoring will occur over the next eight years on the project site. This will include continued assessment of sage-grouse use in addition to the use of remote cameras to document use of the site by other species attracted to these enhanced habitats.

Did You Know?

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