Link to WLCI home page
Conserving world-class wildlife resources. Facilitating responsible development.

Scientific Reports

  • A tale of two land uses in the American West: rural residential growth and energy development

    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 [...] (Read More)

  • An experimental evaluation of potential scavenger effects on snake road mortality detections

    As road networks expand and collisions between vehicles and wildlife become more common, accurately quantifying mortality rates for the taxa that are most impacted will be critical. Snakes are especially vulnerable to collisions with vehicles because of their physiology and behavior. Reptile road mortality is typically quantified using driving or walking surveys; however, scavengers can rapidly remove carcasses from the road and cause underestimation of mortality. Our objective was to determine the effect that scavengers might have had on our ability to accurately detect reptile road mortality during over 150 h and 4,000 km of driving surveys through arid shrublands in southwest Wyoming, which resulted in only two observations of mortality. [...] (Read More)

  • Data resources for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) Integrated Assessment (IA)

    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 [...] (Read More)

  • Digital representation of oil and natural gas well pad scars in southwest Wyoming: 2012 update

    The recent proliferation of oil and natural gas energy development in the Greater Green River Basin of southwest Wyoming has accentuated the need to understand wildlife responses to this development. The location and extent of surface disturbance that is created by oil and natural gas well pad scars are key pieces of information used to assess the effects of energy infrastructure on wildlife populations and habitat. A digital database of oil and natural gas pad scars had previously been generated from 1-meter (m) National Agriculture Imagery Program imagery (NAIP) acquired in 2009 for a 7.7-million hectare (ha) (19,026,700 acres) region of southwest Wyoming. Scars included the pad area where wellheads, pumps, and storage facilities [...] (Read More)

  • Energy map of southwestern Wyoming - Energy data archived, organized, integrated, and accessible

    The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) focuses on conserving world-class wildlife resources while facilitating responsible energy development in southwestern Wyoming. To further advance the objectives of the WLCI long-term, science-based effort, a comprehensive inventory of energy resource and production data is being published in two parts. Energy maps, data, documentation and spatial data processing capabilities are available in geodatabase, published map file (pmf), ArcMap document (mxd), Adobe Acrobat PDF map, and other digital formats that can be downloaded at the USGS website. (Read More)

  • Energy map of southwestern Wyoming, Part A - Coal and wind

    To further advance the objectives of the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) have compiled Part A of the Energy Map of Southwestern Wyoming. Focusing primarily on electrical power sources, Part A of the energy map is a compilation of both published and previously unpublished coal (including coalbed gas) and wind energy resources data, presented in a Geographic Information System (GIS) data package. Energy maps, data, documentation and spatial data processing capabilities are available in a geodatabase, published map file (pmf), ArcMap document (mxd), Adobe Acrobat PDF map (plate 1) and other digital formats that can be downloaded at the USGS [...] (Read More)

  • Forecasting and evaluating patterns of energy development in southwestern Wyoming

    The effects of future oil and natural gas development in southwestern Wyoming on wildlife populations are topical to conservation of the sagebrush steppe ecosystem. To aid in understanding these potential effects, the U.S. Geological Survey developed an Energy Footprint simulation model that forecasts the amount and pattern of energy development under different assumptions of development rates and well-drilling methods. The simulated disturbance patterns produced by the footprint model are used to assess the potential effects on wildlife habitat and populations. A goal of this modeling effort is to use measures of energy production (number of simulated wells), well-pad and road-surface disturbance, and potential effects on wildlife [...] (Read More)

  • Geodatabase of Wyoming statewide oil and gas drilling activity to 2010

    The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) compiled a geographic information system (GIS) of Wyoming statewide historical oil and gas drilling activity for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI). The WLCI is representative of the partnerships being formed by the USGS with other Department of the Interior bureaus, State and local agencies, industry, academia, and private landowners that are committed to maintaining healthy landscapes, sustaining wildlife, and preserving recreational and grazing uses as energy resources development progresses in southwestern Wyoming. This product complements the 2009 USGS publication on oil and gas development in southwestern Wyoming http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/437/) by approximating, based on database [...] (Read More)

  • Geospatial Considerations for a Multiorganizational, Landscape-Scale Program

    Geospatial data play an increasingly important role in natural resources management, conservation, and science-based projects. The management and effective use of spatial data becomes significantly more complex when the efforts involve a myriad of landscape-scale projects combined with a multiorganizational collaboration. There is sparse literature to guide users on this daunting subject; therefore, we present a framework of considerations for working with geospatial data that will provide direction to data stewards, scientists, collaborators, and managers for developing geospatial management plans. The concepts we present apply to a variety of geospatial programs or projects, which we describe as a “scalable framework” of processes [...] (Read More)

  • Greater Sage-Grouse National Research Strategy

    The condition of the sagebrush ecosystem has been declining in the Western United States, and greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), a sagebrush-obligate species, has experienced concurrent decreases in distribution and population numbers. This has prompted substantial research and management over the past two decades to improve the understanding of sage-grouse and its habitats and to address the observed decreases in distribution and population numbers. The amount of research and management has increased as the year 2015 approaches, which is when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is expected to make a final decision about whether or not to protect the species under the Endangered Species Act. In 2012, the Sage-Grouse [...] (Read More)

  • Interactive mapping application of Oil and Gas Development in Southwestern Wyoming—Energy Data and Services for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI)

    The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative is a long-term science-based effort to ensure southwestern Wyoming’s wildlife and habitat remain viable in areas facing development pressure. Wyoming encompasses some of the highest quality wildlife habitats in the Intermountain West. At the same time, this region is an important source of natural gas. It is critically important to apply a geologic understanding of emerging patterns of energy resource exploitation, to identify the most likely geographic domains of future impact. Using Geographic Information System technology, energy data pertinent to the conservation decision-making process have been assembled to illustrate the temporal evolution of oil and gas production in the Greater [...] (Read More)

  • Map service: Historical oil and gas exploration for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI), southwestern Wyoming

    This map service was created to assemble oil and gas well information for a comprehensive inventory of energy data pertinent to the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative decision-making process. These data are available as online resources for scientists, resource managers engaged in the Initiative, and other researchers. The GIS data and map documents created for this study are available for interactive analysis and/or download at the Energy Geoscience Center website. (Read More)

  • Mapping surface disturbance of energy-related infrastructure in southwest Wyoming--An assessment of methods

    We evaluated how well three leading information-extraction software programs (eCognition, Feature Analyst, Feature Extraction) and manual hand digitization interpreted information from remotely sensed imagery of a visually complex gas field in Wyoming. Specifically, we compared how each mapped the area of and classified the disturbance features present on each of three remotely sensed images, including 30-meter-resolution Landsat, 10-meter-resolution SPOT (Satellite Pour l'Observation de la Terre), and 0.6-meter resolution pan-sharpened QuickBird scenes. Feature Extraction mapped the spatial area of disturbance features most accurately on the Landsat and QuickBird imagery, while hand digitization was most accurate on the SPOT imagery. [...] (Read More)

  • Observations of elk movement patterns on Fossil Butte National Monument

    The elk herd that frequents Fossil Butte National Monument, a subset of the West Green River elk population, provides visitors with seasonal opportunities to view an iconic species of the western United States. Throughout the year, these elk range across a variety of private, State, and Federal lands within close proximity to the Monument. These lands are managed differently for various uses which can create challenging wildlife-management issues and influence the herd’s seasonal movements and distribution. Research lead by the USGS investigates some of the factors associated with these seasonal changes. (Read More)

  • Oil and Gas Development in Southwestern Wyoming - Energy Data and Services for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI)

    The purpose of this report is to explore current oil and gas energy development in the area encompassing the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative. The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative is a long-term science-based effort to ensure southwestern Wyoming's wildlife and habitat remain viable in areas facing development pressure. Wyoming encompasses some of the highest quality wildlife habitats in the Intermountain West. At the same time, this region is an important source of natural gas. Using Geographic Information System technology, energy data pertinent to the conservation decision-making process have been assembled to show historical oil and gas exploration and production in southwestern Wyoming. In addition to historical [...] (Read More)

  • Rancher and farmer quality of life in the midst of energy development in southwest Wyoming

    Quality of life (QOL) is usually defined as a person’s general well-being, and may include individual perceptions of a variety of factors such family, work, finances, local community services, community relationships, surrounding environment, and other important aspects of their life, ultimately leading to life satisfaction. Energy development can have an effect on QOL components for rural residents. Southwest Wyoming is a rural area with a history of ranching and farming which continues today. This area has also seen a “boom” of increasing wind, solar, oil and gas energy developments over the past decade. Wyoming Department of Agriculture, as part of the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI), sponsored research to examine [...] (Read More)

  • Soil Geochemical Data for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative Study Area

    In 2008, soil samples were collected at 139 sites throughout the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative study area in southwest Wyoming. These samples, representing a density of 1 site per 440 square kilometers, were collected from a depth of 0-5 cm and analyzed for a suite of more than 40 major and trace elements following a near-total multi-acid extraction. In addition, soil pH, electrical conductivity, total nitrogen, total and organic carbon, and sodium adsorption ratio were determined. The resulting data set provides a baseline for detecting changes in soil composition that might result from natural processes or anthropogenic activities. This report describes the sampling and analytical protocols used, and makes available all [...] (Read More)

  • Spatial mapping and attribution of Wyoming wind turbines

    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 [...] (Read More)

  • Specific Conductance and Dissolved-Solids Characteristics for the Green River and Muddy Creek, Wyoming, Water Years 1999-2008

    Southwestern Wyoming is an area of diverse scenery, wildlife, and natural resources that is actively undergoing energy development. The U.S. Department of the Interior's Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative is a long-term science-based effort to assess and enhance aquatic and terrestrial habitats at a landscape scale, while facilitating responsible energy development through local collaboration and partnerships. Water-quality monitoring has been conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey on the Green River near Green River, Wyoming, and Muddy Creek near Baggs, Wyoming. This monitoring, which is being conducted in cooperation with State and other Federal agencies and as part of the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative, is in [...] (Read More)

  • U.S. Geological Survey Science for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative - 2008 Annual Report

    The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) was launched in 2007 in response to concerns about threats to the State's world class wildlife resources, especially the threat posed by rapidly increasing energy development in southwest Wyoming. The overriding purpose of the WLCI is to assess and enhance aquatic and terrestrial habitats at a landscape scale, while facilitating responsible energy and other types of development. The WLCI includes partners from Federal, State, and local agencies, with participation from public and private entities, industry, and landowners. As a principal WLCI partner, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provides multidisciplinary scientific and technical support to inform decisionmaking in the WLCI. [...] (Read More)

  • U.S. Geological Survey Science for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative-2009 Annual Report

    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 [...] (Read More)

  • U.S. Geological Survey Science for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative-2010 Annual Report

    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 [...] (Read More)

  • U.S. Geological Survey science for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative: 2011 annual report

    This is the fourth report produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) to detail annual work activities. In FY2011, there were 37 ongoing, completed, or new projects conducted under the five 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. The four new work activities were (1) development of the Western Energy Citation Clearinghouse, a Web-based energy-resource database of references for literature and on-line resources focused on energy development and its effects on natural resources; [...] (Read More)

  • U.S. Geological Survey Science for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative: 2012 annual report

    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 [...] (Read More)

  • U.S. Geological Survey science for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative: 2013 annual report

    This is the sixth report produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) to detail annual activities conducted by USGS for addressing specific management needs identified by WLCI partners. In FY2013, there were 25 ongoing and new projects conducted by the USGS. These projects fall into 8 major categories: (1) synthesizing and analyzing existing data to describe (model and map) current conditions on the landscape; (2) developing models for projecting past and future landscape conditions; (3) monitoring indicators of ecosystem conditions and the effectiveness of on-the-ground habitat projects; (4) conducting research to elucidate the mechanisms underlying wildlife and habitat responses [...] (Read More)

  • U.S. Geological Survey Science for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative: 2014 annual report

    This is the seventh report produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) to detail annual activities conducted by the USGS for addressing specific management needs identified by WLCI partners. In FY2014, there were 26 projects, including a new one that was completed, two others that were also completed, and several that entered new phases or directions. The 26 projects fall into several categories: (1) synthesizing and analyzing existing data to identify current conditions on the landscape and using the data to develop models for projecting past and future landscape conditions; (2) monitoring indicators of ecosystem conditions and the effectiveness of on-the-ground habitat projects; [...] (Read More)

  • U.S. Geological Survey Science Strategy for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative

    Southwest Wyoming's wildlife and habitat resources are increasingly affected by energy and urban/exurban development, climate change, and other key drivers of ecosystem change. To ensure that southwest Wyoming's wildlife populations and habitats persist in the face of development and other changes, a consortium of public resource-management agencies proposed the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI), the overall goal of which is to implement conservation actions. As the principal agency charged with conducting WLCI science, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has developed a Science Strategy for the WLCI. Workshops were held for all interested parties to identify and refine the most pressing management needs for achieving [...] (Read More)

  • U.S. Geological Survey water-resource monitoring activities in support of the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative

    The quality of the Nation’s water resources are vital to the health and well-being of both our communities and the natural landscapes we value. The U.S. Geological Survey investigates the occurrence, quantity, quality, distribution, and movement of surface water and groundwater and provides this information to engineers, scientists, managers, educators, and the general public. This information also supplements current (2013) and historical water data provided by the National Water Information System. The U.S. Geological Survey collects and shares data nationwide, but how those data are used is often site specific; this variety of data assists natural-resource managers in addressing unique, local, and regional challenges. (Read More)

  • Uranium in the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative study area, southwestern Wyoming

    Wyoming has led the nation as the producer of uranium ore since 1995 and contains the largest reserves of any state. Approximately one third of Wyoming’s total production came from deposits in, or immediately adjacent to, the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) study area in the southwestern corner of the state including all of Carbon, Lincoln, Sublette, Sweetwater, Uinta, and parts of southern Fremont Counties. Conventional open-pit and underground mining methods were employed in the study area until the early 1990s. Since the early 1990s, all uranium mining has been by in-situ recovery (also called in-situ leach). It is estimated that statewide remaining resources of 141,000 tonnes of uranium are about twice the 84,000 [...] (Read More)

  • Video: Exploration and Production Through Time, produced for report: Oil and Gas Development in Southwestern Wyoming—Energy Data and Services for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI),

    The purpose of this report is to explore current oil and gas energy development in the area encompassing the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative. The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative is a long-term science-based effort to ensure southwestern Wyoming’s wildlife and habitat remain viable in areas facing development pressure. Wyoming encompasses some of the highest quality wildlife habitats in the Intermountain West. At the same time, this region is an important source of natural gas. Using Geographic Information System technology, energy data pertinent to the conservation decision-making process have been assembled to show historical oil and gas exploration and production in southwestern Wyoming. In addition to historical [...] (Read More)

  • What are plants doing and when? Using plant phenology to facilitate sustainable natural resources management

    Climate change models for the northern Rocky Mountains predict changes in temperature and water availability that in turn will alter vegetation. Changes include timing of plant life-history events, or phenology, such as green-up, flowering and senescence, and shifts in species composition. Moreover, climate changes may favor different species, such as nonnative, annual grasses over native species. Changes in vegetation could make forage for ungulates, sage-grouse, and livestock available earlier in the growing season, but shifts in species composition and phenology may also result in earlier senescence (die-off or dormancy) and reduced overall forage production. (Read More)

  • WLCI researchers employ new approaches to help managers conserve deer migrations

    Elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, moose, and bighorn sheep are iconic animals of the American West. These hooved animals, known as ungulates, commonly travel 30–60 miles between seasonal ranges. These migrations between winter and summer ranges are vital for survival and reproduction. As habitat fragmentation continues, the conservation of ungulate migration routes has received considerable attention in the West and across the globe. For example, it is estimated that many ungulate migration routes in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have already been lost. The traditional migration routes of Wyoming ungulates are threatened by unprecedented levels of energy development and by increasing levels of rural ranchette development (including [...] (Read More)

  • Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative data management and integration

    Six Federal agencies, two State agencies, and two local entities formally support the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) and work together on a landscape scale to manage fragile habitats and wildlife resources amidst growing energy development in southwest Wyoming. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was tasked with implementing targeted research and providing scientific information about southwest Wyoming to inform the development of WLCI habitat enhancement and restoration projects conducted by land management agencies. Many WLCI researchers and decisionmakers representing the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the State of Wyoming, and others have overwhelmingly expressed the need for a stable, [...] (Read More)

  • Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative Science and Management Workshop Proceedings, May 12-14, 2009, Laramie, Wyoming

    The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hosted the second Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) Science and Management Workshop at the University of Wyoming Conference Center and Hilton Garden Inn on May 12, 13, and 14, 2009, in Laramie, Wyo. The workshop focused on six topics seen as relevant to ongoing WLCI science and management activities: mapping and modeling resources for decisionmaking; data information and management; fish and wildlife research; changing landscapes; monitoring; and reclamation and offsite mitigation. Panelists gave presentations on ongoing research in these six areas during plenary sessions followed by audience discussions. Three breakout groups focused on discussing wildlife, reclamation, and monitoring. [...] (Read More)

  • Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative Science Workshop Proceedings, May 15-17, 2007

    The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hosted a Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) Science Workshop at the University of Wyoming on May 15, 16, and 17, 2007. The goal of the workshop was to gather information from stakeholders about research needs and existing data resources to help develop the USGS WLCI science plan. The workshop focused on six research and management needs identified by WLCI partners prior to the workshop: *evaluate the cumulative effects of development activities; *identify key drivers of change; *identify condition and distribution of key wildlife species, habitat, and species habitat requirements; *evaluate wildlife and livestock responses to development; *develop an integrated inventory and monitoring [...] (Read More)