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Conserving world-class wildlife resources. Facilitating responsible development.

Science Projects

Southwest Wyoming land managers face the challenge of ensuring the persistence of the region’s abundant wildlife and important habitats while providing for development of Nationally important energy and mineral resources. Driven by local and regional leaders, the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) was officially launched in 2007 with support from the U.S. Department of the Interior. The WLCI mission is to implement a long-term, science-based program of assessing, conserving, and enhancing fish and wildlife habitats while facilitating responsible energy and other development through local collaboration and partnerships. As the principal agency charged with conducting WLCI science, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provides multidisciplinary scientific- and technical-assistance support to WLCI partners and works to advance the overall scientific understanding of ecosystems in Southwest Wyoming. Fulfilling these roles entails evaluating the effectiveness of habitat treatments implemented by WLCI partners and collaborators, assessing the cumulative effects of energy development and other land-use changes on wildlife and habitat in the WLCI area, coordinating work activities with the WLCI community, and demonstrating how to integrate research findings into on-the-ground management actions. Work is guided by a Science Strategy based on management needs and by intensive coordination with WLCI partners. The framework for conducting WLCI research and technical assistance work includes Baseline Studies, Targeted Monitoring and Research, Data and Information Management, Integration and Coordination, and Decision-making and Evaluation.

Data Management

  • Data Management Framework and Catalog

    Managing, analyzing, providing, and using data and information resources assembled or generated for the WLCI are essential for supporting WLCI goals. This project addresses those needs by providing online tools for (1) discovering and using existing data and information; (2) cataloging, preserving, and archiving those resources; and (3) making them available to WLCI researchers, decision-makers, and the public. A WLCI Data Catalog (Catalog) hosted by USGS is available at www.wlci.gov. The Catalog includes information about and access to data sets, projects, publications, and Web sites relevant to the WLCI. This Catalog is continuously maintained and enhanced to meet user needs, capitalize on technological innovations, and ensure that [...] (Read More)

  • Outreach and Graphic Products for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative

    A multipartner project as large as the WLCI requires excellent intra- and interagency communication, as well as dissemination of products and other information to those interested in learning about the WLCI, gleaning information for informing and supporting planning and decisions, and tracking project progress. To meet that need, the USGS developed a Web site for the WLCI at www.wlci.gov. This Web site provides information about ongoing activities and facilitates user discovery (search functions) of additional resources, including workshops, publications, reports, newsletters, data, and both habitat conservation and science projects. With aid from the USGS Data and Information Management Team, the WLCI Coordination Team and Communication [...] (Read More)

  • Science and Conservation Projects Database for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative

    Partners and stakeholders of the WLCI have expressed the need to access descriptive information and locations of (1) "on-the-ground" habitat conservation projects managed by the WLCI Coordination Team and (2) science projects being conducted by USGS and other science-agency partners. In response to this need, WLCI project information is documented in the Clearinghouse and available on the WLCI Web site (www.wlci.gov). The Clearinghouse provides an interactive map environment enabling users to click on geospatially referenced points, view project information, link to additional resources (including data), and use search and filter capabilities to constrain the information returned. Project information is entered into the Clearinghouse, [...] (Read More)

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Baseline Synthesis

  • Important Agricultural Lands in Southwestern Wyoming

    Agriculture is important to the historical identity of and current economic activity within the WLCI region. Understanding the social and economic values derived from agriculture helps policy planners and decision-makers to better assess the effects of landscape planning and conservation efforts in a broader (societal) context. Our study seeks to add more value to the WLCI Integrated Assessment (IA) by providing insights on the productivity and historical, ecological, and socioeconomic importance of agriculture across the WLCI landscape. Overall, this project will add another dimension to the WLCI IA’s inventory of integrated data and the WLCI data clearinghouse as a whole. In FY2014, scientists with the USGS, the Wyoming State Engineer’s [...] (Read More)

  • Western Energy Citation Clearinghouse

    Addressing concerns about the types and development of energy and a secure energy future is a high priority for the current United States administration, the Department of the Interior (DOI) in particular. The BLM and other land management agencies within the DOI are charged with balancing energy development with other land uses and values. Decision-making about land uses is often controversial and complex; this necessitates easy access to useful data, literature, and other informative resources that facilitate a better understanding of how energy development affects natural resources, ecosystems, economics, and society. Although there are several valuable on-line resources that provide information about energy development and associated [...] (Read More)

  • Application of Comprehensive Assessment to Support Decisionmaking and Conservation Actions

    This is a collaborative, two-part project to compile and analyze resource data to support WLCI efforts. Part 1 entails directing data synthesis and assessment activities to ensure that they will inform and support the WLCI LPDTs and Coordination Team in their conservation planning efforts, such as developing conservation priorities and strategies, identifying priority areas for conservation actions, evaluating and ranking conservation projects, and evaluating spatial and ecological relations between proposed habitat projects and WLCI priorities. In FY2014, we helped the Coordination Team complete the WLCI Conservation Action Plan and BLM’s annual report, and we provided maps and other materials to assist with ranking FY2015 WLCI conservation [...] (Read More)

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Targeted Monitoring and Research

  • Development and Evaluation of Synthetic High-Resolution Satellite Imagery for Effectiveness Monitoring

    To evaluate habitat conditions and trends, land management agencies in the WLCI region require objective, detailed information describing the characteristics of vegetation dynamics, such as changes in biomass, species composition, or the timing of green-up. Assessing the efficacy of management activities and the duration of their effectiveness has been problematic due to the lack of high-resolution spatial and temporal satellite imagery capable of revealing patterns in vegetation responses and changes in forage production. Vegetation indices, such as the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) derived from satellite imagery, can be used to monitor seasonal and interannual changes in plant phenology and biomass associated with [...] (Read More)

  • Using Science to Help the National Park Service Interpret a Wildlife Resource

    Consistent with the National Park Service’s philosophy, Fossil Butte National Monument is managed to protect the Monument’s resources and provide opportunities for public enjoyment. Fossil Butte National Monument was created primarily to protect paleontological resources; however, the mandate of the agency’s enabling legislation “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein…” also recognizes the importance of natural process, native wildlife species, and the habitats on which they depend. Sizeable herds of elk spend part of the fall and winter within the Monument’s boundaries and provide numerous viewing opportunities for visitors. Collaboration among the USGS, the National Park Service, the [...] (Read More)

  • Landscape Assessment and Monitoring of Semi-Arid Woodlands in the Little Mountain Ecosystem

    The Little Mountain Ecosystem in southwestern Wyoming has been identified as a priority area for conservation by the BLM and the WGFD. The woodlands of the Little Mountain Ecosystem have been affected by multiple disturbance types over the last 20 years. Active management of these ecologically important woodlands has sought to rejuvenate decadent aspen stands and reduce conifer expansion in successional aspen stands through prescribed fire and mechanical thinning. The area also experienced wildfires and multiple drought years over the last decade. The BLM Rock Springs Field Office asked the USGS to conduct research that provides baseline information on the Little Mountain Ecosystem woodlands. This project is designed to acquire information [...] (Read More)

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Integration and Coordination

  • Coordination, Science Integration, Decisionmaking, and Evaluation for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative

    A program as large and complex as the WLCI requires significant coordination and management, as well as the integration of what is learned from science with the decision-making and program-evaluation processes. For the WLCI, coordination and integration are accomplished through the WLCI Coordination Team, which is composed of one member each from the USGS, BLM, FWS, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and Wyoming Department of Agriculture. There is also a USGS member on the Science and Technical Advisory Committee. Under the direction of the WLCI Executive Committee, the Coordination Team manages the fiscal and logistical operations necessary to meet the goals and objectives of the WLCI. The Coordination Team also is responsible for [...] (Read More)

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