Meet our Fall Interns

We are pleased to introduce our fall Ecological Science intern, Monica Cooper, and our fall GIS intern, Brendan Gibson.

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Monica graduated with a degree in biology from Kalamazoo College in 2014. Since then, she has been working as a biological science technician across the world. Whether it's trapping squirrels in the Yukon, surveying dry forests in Puerto Rico, or monitoring endangered amphibians in the Sierra Nevada; you’ll find her happiest in the field, working to protect the creatures she loves! Eventually, Monica hopes to work as a conservation ecologist for a government agency or a non-profit. She is thrilled to contribute to Wild Utah’s important work this fall!

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Brendan is a senior at the University of Utah majoring in Geography with a climate change emphasis, a GIS certificate, and a minor in Atmospheric science. On top of all that, he's also our fall GIS intern. Growing up in Southern California he developed a true love for the outdoors and the ocean. He would often spend time at the beach or in the mountains when he wasn't at school, playing sports, or working. When he's not here making maps, he can be found outside enjoying Utah's beauty.

Last Volunteer Field Activity of 2018

Wild Utah Project, along with Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Trout Unlimited, will be completing a stream and riparian habitat improvement project on East Canyon Creek, outside of Jeremy Ranch, on Friday October 5, 2018. We will be constructing "man-made beaver dams" also known as beaver dam analogues. Sign up to join us for this full, and fun, day in the field.

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Thank you!

Wild Utah Project is dedicated to conserving Utah’s wild landscapes to support diverse wildlife populations across our state. Your donation helps us fulfill our mission to provide science-based strategies for wildlife and land conservation. Invest in Utah’s diverse landscapes and wildlife today! 

2018 Field Season Wrap-up

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Our inaugural season of the Central Wasatch mammal trail camera study was a huge success!  We’d like to thank our partners at the Biodiversity and Conservation Ecology Lab at the University of Utah, Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City Parks and Public Lands, and our volunteer citizen scientists. Together we installed and maintained over 200 camera stations across the Central Wasatch Mountains. Many volunteers will continue to support the study by sorting wildlife photos using the online platform, eMammal. The data will be shared with state and federal wildlife management agencies to inform conservation planning for the mammal communities of the Central Wasatch.

2018 marks our 5th year conducting boreal toad and aquatic habitat assessments as a collaboration with Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, U.S. Forest Service, Utah Geologic Survey, and the Hogle Zoo. The assessment field protocols are implemented by trained volunteer citizen scientists in coordination with Hogle Zoo. Volunteers visited 25 sites up to 3 times each, contributing over 500 hours of service in 2018. This project continues to aid local wildlife managers in understanding the current occupied range for this rare species in the Wasatch mountains, and importantly, informs potential sites for much needed boreal toad reintroduction. In addition, our annual surveys contribute to a state-wide effort to better understand aquatic habitats and amphibian indicator species; for example, our data goes to the Utah Geological Survey and will be used to inform a new state-wide amphibian habitat model.

It’s been a productive season for our Stream and Riparian Restoration Program! We kicked off the field season back in the Sheeprock Mountains, where, in 2017, we assessed Vernon Creek with Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) and a team of volunteer citizen scientists in order to record the functional state of the stream before installing Beaver Dam Analogues (BDAs or human made beaver dams). In May, we built the last of the dams using citizen science power. We’ll return next year for assessments of ecological and habitat improvements post-BDA installation.   

This summer, we again trained partners with UDWR and more volunteers in the Rapid Stream-Riparian Assessment Protocol, this time up at Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area. Then Wild Utah Project staff, interns, and volunteers coordinated with UDWR and our partner, Trout Unlimited, to complete more pre-BDA stream assessments on East Canyon Creek and Fish Creek in the Weber Watershed, and North Eden Creek east of Bear Lake.  Now that we have the baseline data, we are preparing to install even more BDAs on those streams this Fall and next spring.

Learn more about our citizen science programs

Notes from the GIS Lab: Western U.S ‘Outstanding Waters’ Analysis 

Our GIS Lab recently conducted a mapping project that identifies existing and potential streams and wetlands that qualify as ‘Outstanding Natural Resource Waters’ under the EPA designation in the Clean Water Act (National and state waters of exceptional recreational or ecological significance). We gathered, curated, and analyzed datasets across five western states for the conservation organization, Western Resource Advocates. The results of this effort are featured in a customized web-based mapping application developed by Wild Utah Project’s GIS team, which will enable the identification of important water resource designations as well as conditions, and - importantly - will help our partners identify priority areas for future management and conservation of water resources.

Welcome to our Newest Staff Member!
Kim Howes, Development Director

We are thrilled to announce the addition of our new development director, Kim Howes! Kim joined the Wild Utah Project team a few short weeks ago. She received her B.S. in Applied Economics from the University of San Francisco, and prior to joining our team, she worked to raise awareness and funds for organizations across the West, including nonprofits in California, Colorado, and Utah. Kim has a passion for connecting organizations with enthusiastic supporters who are eager to make a difference in their community. She specializes in fund development, event planning, strategic marketing, design, and communications.

As our development director, Kim helps promote Wild Utah Project’s mission by leading our fundraising and communication efforts. She’s passionate about preserving Utah’s wild landscapes and protecting our wildlife populations through science-based strategies.

Welcome to the Wild Utah Project team, Kim!

Notes From the Field

Central Wasatch Mammal Camera Study

The Biodiversity and Conservation Ecology Lab at the University of Utah and Wild Utah Project, in collaboration with the Natural History Museum of Utah and Salt Lake City Parks and Public Lands, developed a new citizen science program where volunteers can take ownership of 3 field sites by maintaining, monitoring, and rotating the location of a motion-sensing camera in the Central Wasatch, assist with animal identification in photos, and contribute to an online database in an effort to fill critical data gaps in our understanding of native wildlife populations and their distribution and movement in regards to human influences on the landscape along the Wild-Urban-Interface. Participants in the study attended a formal indoor/outdoor training on April 28th at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Rotation 1 of 3 in this year’s field season has been completed with 100% of the camera’s successfully installed and participation of over 120 volunteers. Rotation 2 is now underway! Thank you to all of the citizen scientists and partners who have made this first field season possible. See the most recent photos and update on this Facebook post by our partners at the Biodiversity and Conservation Ecology Lab.

Rapid Stream Riparian Assessment Training at Hardware Ranch 

Earlier this month Wild Utah Project, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Trout Unlimited and about a dozen Citizen Scientists returned from a successful field training at Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area outside Logan Utah.  The goals of the training were two-fold: 1) to train UDWR and Trout Unlimited staff and interns in the Rapid Stream-Riparian Assessment Protocol, 2) to train-up Citizen volunteers in the use of this protocol as well, so they can assist UDWR and Trout Unlimited as they use their training throughout the UDWR’s Northern Region this season to conduct RSRA assessments on streams slated to receive Beaver Dam Analogues.  It’s important to collect ‘pre-BDA’ information on the current state of stream and riparian function before the human-created analogues are installed, so the same method can be used a year or two later to collect needed proof-of-concept data to demonstrate the restorative powers of the BDAs as they raise the water table with a predicted cascade of associated benefits to the stream/riparian system.  Even better, well-placed analogues can smoothly pave the way for natural recolonization or introduction of beaver to continue to keep up the dams.  Click here for the Facebook album of this great Citizen Science Training, and a huge THANK YOU to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources for hosting the training at Hardware Ranch.

Welcome Janice Gardner and Daniel Johnson!

  • Welcome to our newest staff member – Conservation Ecologist Janice Gardner! We are thrilled to announce the addition to our staff this month of Conservation Ecologist Janice Gardner.  After earning her B.S. in Wildlife Management from the University of New Hampshire and M.S. in Ecology and Environmental Science from the University of Maine, she has held positions as biologist and project manager with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, U.S. Forest Service, and most recently in environmental consulting. Janice specializes in environmental regulations and management of special-status species. As our new Conservation Ecologist for Wild Utah Project, Janice provides technical assessments for various wildlife research and monitoring projects, state and federal actions, and natural resource planning. Janice also serves on local wildlife working groups, engages with partnership organizations, and supports our citizen science programs.  See Janice’s staff page here.  Welcome to the team, Janice!

  • Welcome also to summer Ecological Field Intern Daniel Johnson.We are also pleased to welcome Daniel Johnson, our summer Ecological Field Intern. Daniel is an undergraduate at Utah State University working toward a degree in Wildlife Ecology and Management and set to graduate next spring. He is active in the student chapter of the Wildlife Society, having served as both Public Relations Chair and Vice President.  He spent two summers working for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources as a wildlife technician, where he conducted American pika habitat occupancy surveys, bird point counts, white pelican live-trapping, and boreal toad surveys. Daniel served eight years in the Army Reserves, and enjoys a challenging field environment.  Daniel is assisting us this summer with ‘pre beaver/dam analogue’ stream & riparian assessments, boreal toad surveys, a wildlife camera study, and a meta-analysis of the effects of pinyon juniper treatments, which will help fill a big hole in the ecological literature.

RAYS OF HOPE FROM WILD UTAH PROJECT

2017 Top 10 Rays of HopE

1.  Bureau of Land Management made the decision not to allow construction of a road through the Red Cliffs Desert Tortoise Preserve in Washington County; thus, preserving habitat connectivity for this long-lived, slow-moving species (link to editorial here).

2.  Throughout 2017, Wild Utah Project continued to provide biological expertise to the team building the Central Wasatch  ‘Environmental Dashboard’ – a spatially explicit conservation planning tool which ‘scores’ habitat and ecosystem variables to rate how they are functioning.  The Dashboard will be provide critical to informing upcoming National Environmental Policy Act analyses for planning future transportation solutions in the Central Wasatch Mountains.

3.  Wild Utah Project launched a new and improved website (check it out!).

4.  Our annual April trip to Bryce Canyon National Park with the Rowland Hall High School Environmental Studies class to study sage-grouse habitat resulted in successful viewing of sage-grouse on a lek – where population trends were up, unlike most other Utah leks in 2017.

5.  Hundreds of thousands marched in a total of 500 cities around the country, on Earth Day, advocating for science in the first national ‘March for Science.’  Here in Utah, Wild Utah Project joined thousands who marched in support of science in Salt Lake City, Logan, Moab, Park City, and Saint George.

6.  Citizen scientists found mating boreal toads during our 4th annual boreal toad surveys and amphibian habitat assessments in the Central Wasatch Mountains.  There are few known toad breeding sites, so to find pairs mating was a particular bonus.

7.  And speaking of boreal toads, 2017 found all the agencies (i.e. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, U.S. Forest Service, and Utah Geological Survey) using the same field form for boreal toad surveys across the State....the form that Wild Utah Project and Utah Geologic Survey developed!  By using standardized methods and field forms, field data on habitat conditions and boreal toad locations can now be entered in a consistent fashion into a new state-wide habitat model developed by the Utah Geological Survey.  This will allow wildlife and habitat managers to make more informed decisions regarding future habitat improvements and land-use-planning.

8.  The Rangelands Journal published a Wild Utah Project and Yellowstone to Uintas seminal article on 6 years of data on the Rich County Duck Creek grazing allotment, showing that building more fences and water troughs does not reduce livestock grazing impacts.

9.  Some really amazing news on the large-scale wildlife connectivity front: for the first time in decades, black bears have recently been moving out of the Sierra Mountains across Nevada and repopulating central and eastern Nevada Mountain Ranges, a sign that permeability for dispersing wildlife like black bears has increased in this State adjacent to Utah.

10.  With our partners the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and our Citizen Science volunteers, we built 13 Beaver Dam Analogues (human-made beaver dams) on Vernon Creek in the Sheeprock Mountains, to help raise the water table and restore degraded stream and riparian conditions on this entrenched stream channel.

Please Consider a gift:  Three Ways to Give to Wild Utah Project

Please consider a year-end gift to Wild Utah Project, to help us create more conservation rays of hope for wildlife and wildlands in Utah in 2018!  Here are three ways you might consider donating:

1)    Use the Good ol’ donate button on our website (click here to DONATE)

2)    Buy a “BeaUTAHful” t-shirt from Manai designs for a last-minute holiday gift for someone on your list – 15% of proceeds go to Wild Utah Project (click here to buy a t-shirt)!

3)    Wild Utah Project needs a good field vehicle for our Citizen Science field trips.  A year-end tax write-off of a working vehicle with 4-wheel drive and good clearance would be a wonderful way to say “Happy Holidays” to our conservation field team, including our amazing volunteers, at Wild Utah Project!

Sage-Grouse Need You!

Photo of sage-grouse by Lindsey Christensen Nesbitt

Photo of sage-grouse by Lindsey Christensen Nesbitt

Help keep science in existing federal sage-grouse habitat plans

The Bureau of Land Management is holding a series of public meetings throughout the West to determine the fate of federal conservation efforts designed to provide habitat protections for greater sage-grouse, while still allowing multiple use on public lands. The 99 Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service Land Use Plan amendments, adopted in 2015, came from over six years of agency and locally-driven efforts to understand the challenges to properly conserving habitat for this species and to find collaborative solutions to managing them on public lands.  Most importantly, it was these Land Use Plan amendments, and the promises for conservation made in them, that obviated the need to list the sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act in 2015. That is why we would like to see these plan amendments remain in place.

Do you think conservation science measures - like population and habitat data informing and shaping land management and use - should be removed from the planning process;  or, continue to remain in the Land use Plans? See example talking points from Pew here. Please consider heading out to one of these towns in Utah to let the BLM know your opinion on this proposal.  The meetings will be held:

·  Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the Western Park Convention Center, 300 East 200 South, Vernal, Utah.

·  Wednesday, Nov. 15 at the Festival Hall/Heritage Theater, 105 North 100 East, Second Floor Conference Center Room 1, Cedar City, Utah.

·  Thursday, Nov. 16 at the Snowville Elementary School, 160 North Stone Road, Snowville, Utah

The links above will take you to page to RSVP for the different meetings, and if there are enough folks signed up to attend, we may be orchestrating vanloads of folks from the SLC area.

Or, if you’d rather email comments in on the proposal to dismantle or redo the sage-grouse plans, you can submit them to blm_sagegrouseplanning@blm.gov.  Remember, background on the sage-grouse plans, the sage-grouse science they were based on, and helpful points to comment on in person or in writing, can be found at this helpful site from Pew Charitable Trusts.

Wildlife Science Program Update

Wild Utah Project biologists have been working this Fall to further develop new and on-going research programs to fill wildlife and habitat data gaps on the landscape in Utah.  These efforts include (but are not limited to):

·         Greater Sage-Grouse Brood-Rearing Habitat and Insect Prey Research Program

·         Stream/Riparian Habitat Assessments and Beaver Dam Installations

·         Boreal Toad Surveys and Aquatic Habitat Assessments

·         Central Wasatch Mammal Camera-Trapping Research Study

Lean more on our current Wildlife Science Programs on our website, and get a sneak peak of how you might be able to get involved with our 2018 Citizen Science Programs which support these research studies!

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Notes from the GIS Lab – Welcome to Fall Intern Mercede!

The GIS Lab is pleased to welcome Fall GIS intern Mercede Shaw. Mercede is a recent graduate from the University of Utah with a degree in Geography emphasizing Ecology/Biogeography, as well as a certificate in GIS. Her interests are broadly focused in the field conservation ecology, in which she uses her skills in GIS to help address issues related to wildlife habitats.  She loves being outdoors whether climbing, hiking, backpacking, or skiing. Her skills in GIS, as well as her passion and love for wildlife have led her to this volunteer opportunity with Wild Utah Project.  She is excited to be a part of WUP’s work to study and conserve Utah’s wildlands and wildlife!

Beaver Dam Analogues

Greetings to Friends of the Wild Utah Project!

Because you are one of Wild Utah Project’s special friends, we are excited to bring you this periodic update about what’s happening at Wild Utah Project.  Thanks again for your help and for contributing to Wild Utah Project’s efforts to bring sound science to land and wildlife management decisions in Utah.  – The Wild Utah Project Crew: Allison, Mary, Emanuel, Amy, and Board members Lindsey, Mark, Kirsten, Scott, Ronni, and Kathy, and ‘emeritus extraordinaire,’ Jim Catlin.

OK this is REALLY the very last 2017 Wild Utah Project Field Volunteer Opportunity: Building ‘Beaver Dam Analogues’ October 5th

This past spring we brought a group of Citizen Scientists to the Sheeprock Mountains of central Utah to assess the current state of function of an incised and degraded section of Vernon Creek, before the U.S. Forest Service and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources install 'beaver dam analogues.’ Please see “Highlights of 2017 Citizen Science Field Season” below.  The goal behind these human-made beaver dams is to raise the water table and re-instate connectivity with the floodplain (just as real beaver dams do);  thus, helping to restore functional streamside riparian conditions. 

Building beaver dam analogues with Citizen Scientists and Utah Division Wildlife Resources staff.

Building beaver dam analogues with Citizen Scientists and Utah Division Wildlife Resources staff.

Just the other week we returned with our volunteers to help the Division and the USFS build these man-made beaver dams. But there are still many more we need to build to complete the project, so we are going back AGAIN on Thursday October 5th, and we could use your help! For more details and to sign up please click here!

Highlights of 2017 Citizen Science Field Season

We kicked off the 2017 Citizen Science field season with a 5-day expedition to the Sheeprock Mountains with a group of Citizen Science volunteers and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources staff.  We used the Rapid Stream Riparian Assessment (RSRA) protocol to do “pre-Beaver Dam Analogue” stream assessments on incised and degraded Vernon Creek.  Beaver dam analogues are human made beaver dams and are being built now – see last item in this Scoop!  See the Facebook Album here and come back with us next year to use the RSRA protocol again to document whether the new beaver dam analogues helped raise the water table in this degraded watershed!

2017 has been a banner year for Wild Utah Project Citizen Science participation in the boreal toad program with our partners at Hogle Zoo, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, U.S. Forest Service, and Utah Geologic Survey. So far, approximately 30 citizen scientists attended the boreal toad training and have made multiple data collection visits to over 23 sites across the Central Wasatch Range, logging over 540 hours of service this field season. These habitat data and inventories of boreal toad and other amphibian occurrence data will contribute to a state-wide spatial database and Utah Geologic Survey predictive model for aquatic habitat conditions for indicator species like boreal toads that help us assess the condition of the habitat.

The boreal toad data are critical now because these data will help determine where the boreal toad, likely to be listed as an endangered species soon, can be reintroduced.  The predictive model will also help determine the places that should be surveyed where we are most likely to find more toads and the habitats that should be protected to maximize the chances for the species to survive long-term.  The data and the predictive model will also help future development avoid any critical toad habitat.  Thank you to all of our 2017 Citizen Science participants! If you are interested in joining us in 2018, register to receive information here. 

Notes from the GIS Lab

The GIS Lab also had a busy summer! And we couldn’t have done it without the essential assistance of our dynamite summer GIS intern Anna Sahl.  The mapping efforts and GIS analysis for partners she helped us complete are literally too much to begin to list here, but we would just like to highlight one great product – a recent story map Anna worked on with GIS Director Emanuel Vasquez, which was completed for our partners at Save Our Canyons.  Check it out here.  The GIS lab is now entering another busy semester this Fall, and we are now welcoming one new intern, Mercede Shaw, and we are also pleased to welcome back former intern Vivian Chan who will be helping out yet again, this time as a volunteer, with GIS partner support this semester while she finishes up her degree at the U.  Thanks GIS team!

 Thank you again for supporting the Wild Utah Project and all of our work on behalf of our natural lands and wildlife!

 

August 2017 "Insider Scoop"

Learn about Mexican Wolves at the Library Next Monday

Our partners, Western Wildlife Conservancy and the group ‘Utah Wants Wolves’ are continuing the quarterly lecture series at the Salt Lake City Main Branch Library. Come join us next Monday, August 14, at 7 pm with guest speaker Kim Crumbo of Wildlands Network as he discusses the history and current status of Mexican Wolves in southern Utah and Arizona, the process by which the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service has proposed a draft revision of the Mexican Wolf recovery plan, current conservation science, and the current politics surrounding this plan.  We will be meeting in the downtown SLC Main Library Room B (downstairs).  Here’s the link to the Facebook Event Page: where you can RSVP for this FREE event, and invite friends.  See you there!

Comment on Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan

At the lecture series event described above, our partners with Wildlands Network will explain how you can provide helpful comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the draft Mexican wolf (or “Lobo”) recovery plan. Only a few Mexican wolf populations in New Mexico and Arizona still remain, despite having historic distributions across the American Southwest. These existing wolf populations are critical to the long-term success of wolf recovery across the Western Wildway. You can help protect and reconnect these isolated wolf populations by submitting your comments today on the Draft Recovery Plan. We must ensure government officials protect wolves in the wild and adopt sound, science-based management to allow for eventual recovery in the wild.  For years, conservation scientists have advocated that a recovery plan for Mexican wolves provide adequate population targets and connected breeding populations of wolves distributed across core habitat areas in the Southwest. Instead of adopting these recommendations, the current draft recovery plan still sets much lower population target numbers for wolves within strictly defined habitat areas. Please, take a moment before August 29th to use Wildlands Network’s streamlined comment portal, with helpful background information for your comments, and let the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service know that the public supports science-based wolf management.  Thank you!

Effects of Cattle Use on Riparian and Upland Areas of the Duck Creek Allotment: Published in Scientific Journal, Rangelands

In 2013, the Department of the Interior Administrative Law Judge made a favorable ruling on the appeal of the Duck Creek grazing allotment Environmental Assessment in Rich County, UT. Our goal in bringing this case before the judge was not only to rectify degraded conditions on this particular allotment, but to help create a precedent for changing grazing management West-wide for the better.  In this case, the judge found that, based on our extensive field data collection on vegetation ground cover amounts and grazing utilization rates, some of the range management decisions made by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) were arbitrary and capricious, and not based in sound science.  BLM has appealed the decision, despite the strong likelihood of the decision holding up on appeal with the Interior Board of Land Appeals. In the meantime, along with our partners at Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, we submitted a scientific article regarding data-driven recommendations for changing grazing management in this allotment to the Rangelands Journal.  We are pleased to report that it is being published in the current edition of Rangelands, and you can read it online here to learn more about what can and cannot positively influence the effects of grazing in the West.

One more 2017 Wild Utah Project Field Volunteer Opportunity: Building ‘Beaver Dam Analogues’ September 14th

This past spring we brought a group of Citizen Scientists to the Sheeprock Mountains of central Utah to assess the current state of function of an incised and degraded section of Vernon Creek, before the U.S. Forest Service and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources install 'beaver dam analogues,' which are man-made structures that function as beaver dams with. The goal behind these human-made beaver dams is to raise the water table and re-instate connectivity with the floodplain (just as real beaver dams do);  thus, helping to restore functional streamside riparian conditions.  On Sept 14th we will return with volunteers to help the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the Forest Service build these man-made beaver dams. For more details (and to sign up) click here!

Thank you again for supporting the Wild Utah Project and all of our work on behalf of our natural lands and wildlife!

 

 

Wild Utah Project's 20th Anniversary

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Special 20th Anniversary Edition -- 2016 Wild Utah Project Annual Report: available to download on our website

We are pleased to share Wild Utah Project’s 2016 Annual Report with descriptions of what you helped us accomplish this past year. 2016 was an important year for Wild Utah Project because it marked our 20th anniversary…as such, this special report is a tribute to the conservation work Wild Utah Project has accomplished over our 20-year history. If you did not have a chance to support Wild Utah Project during this landmark year, we would like to invite you to do so now!  We hope you enjoy and take pride in the work we outline in this report; which many of you have supported. And know that Wild Utah Project will continue to provide science in service of wildlife and wildlands and that your support is instrumental in helping us sustain our work.

Wild Utah Project kicks off the Citizen Science field season with a successful riparian assessment training in the Sheeprock Mountains!

Last month Wild Utah Project staff along with 15 Citizen Science volunteers, U.S. Forest Service biologists, and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) biologists, completed a 3 day training in the Rapid Stream Riparian Assessment protocol.  Using our new training in the protocol, we collected data on current, baseline conditions of Vernon Creek and its riparian areas. Later this summer we will return with the UDWR and our citizen volunteers to install human-made beaver dams also known as “beaver dam analogues”.  The created dams will act like beaver dams by raising the water table and will begin to repair incised and entrenched conditions in the creek.  Check out photos from this fun (though cold at times – it snowed that week!) excursion on Facebook photo album.  We will be back with UDWR and more volunteers next year to see how Vernon Creek is improving with this new restoration technique and using the assessment protocol adopted by UDWR!

Welcome 2017 Summer Interns!

We are pleased to introduce our two summer interns, one in our GIS lab, and the other out in the field most of the summer!

  • Anna Sahl, our GIS intern, just completed her first year in the Professional Master of Science and Technology (PMST) program at the University of Utah and is excited to put her GIS and environmental science skills to work for Wild Utah Project. The two main projects she is working on are 1) creating and refining models for an analysis of the grazing capacity in an area of the High Uintas Wilderness and 2) designing Story Maps for species that WUP studies, such as sage-grouse and bighorn sheep, and integrating the power of GIS as a way to tell their stories. Anna hopes to increase her knowledge of GIS and the many ways it can be applied in conservation and land management. She hopes to use GIS not only as a tool for analysis, but as a way to communicate simply and effectively about a conservation issue. In the fall she will be returning to the University of Utah to finish up her second year and earn her PMST degree.

  • Casey Brucker, our summer ecological field intern, graduated from Utah State University (USU) this past May with a B.S. in Conservation and Restoration Ecology. She is currently working with USU's Fluvial Habitats Center to ground-truth the Beaver Restoration Assessment Tool (BRAT) model and assess potential beaver reintroduction sites throughout the Weber River watershed. When she is not working on her own project, she is attending various trainings or helping out with our other programs such as boreal toad and aquatic habitat surveys and Rapid Stream Riparian Assessments (RSRAs). Casey enjoys working with partner non-profits and agencies in the pursuit of conservation and restoration. She anticipates attending graduate school in the near future, but in the meantime is planning to embrace the spontaneity of seasonal work and travel.

Please send a letter to Secretary of the Interior Zinke – let’s not undo a 5-year effort to improve federal land use plans for sage-grouse!

Launched in 2015, Federal Greater Sage-Grouse conservation management plans—designed with dozens of stakeholders over five years— put greater restrictions on energy and other development on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands. This attempt to reverse the long-term downward trend of sage-grouse populations was a West-wide effort.  Now these new Land Use Plan amendments are being revisited by the Department of the Interior and could open the door to more oil and gas drilling in sage-grouse habitat across millions of acres of public lands.

The Interior Department should not abandon the progress that was made in 2015, which was based on data and sound science. Neither should they ignore the stakeholders, including sportsmen, biologists and conservationists, who invested years of work and countless resources into developing the existing plans. Bills have also been introduced in Congress that would turn over sage-grouse habitat on federal lands to state management and suspend the possibility of Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for the greater sage-grouse for 10 years.

If you agree that the federal plans should be given a chance to work, and that the safety net of the ESA should be maintained for the greater sage-grouse, Please CLICK HERE to link to our partners at the American Bird Conservancy, who can help you craft comments to government officials on this critical matter!

Wild Utah Project hiring new staff

We are thrilled to announce that we are in the process of hiring another conservation biologist.  Yes, Wild Utah Project is increasing our staff so that we can better serve our mission of providing science-based strategies for wildlife and land conservation, to both management and policy decision processes in Utah. This new hire will help us build on our most active Citizen Science Program field season ever (75 volunteers and well over 2,000 hours of service last year), while also increasing development of our partnerships with land and wildlife management agencies, and continuing to expand our Conservation Community Support Program.

Thank you again for supporting the Wild Utah Project and all of our work on behalf of our natural lands and wildlife!

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Spring Projects at Wild Utah Project

Volunteers attend our in-class training last week at Hogle Zoo for this summer's central Wasatch amphibian "Bio-Blitz". See our    (brand new!) website    for summer citizen science opportunities!

Volunteers attend our in-class training last week at Hogle Zoo for this summer's central Wasatch amphibian "Bio-Blitz". See our (brand new!) website for summer citizen science opportunities!

Upcoming presentation by Yellowstone to Uintas Connection!

You are invited to a presentation sponsored by our partners Western Wildlife Conservancy and the "Wasatch Front Packtivists" this coming Thursday, May 11, 7:00pm at the Salt Lake City Main Library, Room B (downstairs). Jason Christensen, Director of the Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, will update us on Y2UConn's work to protect and restore this unique and irreplaceable wildlife corridor in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming that connects the Yellowstone Ecosystem to the Uinta Wilderness and Southern Rockies. This corridor, and its proper management and conservation, is vital to the prospects of wolves, lynx and wolverine returning to Utah from points north. Facebook event link HERE. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

NOT TO MISS FREE SCREENING OF "BORN TO RE-WILD" MAY 17

Join us, 7:00 05/17 in the Main Auditorium at the SLC Main Library (210 E 400 S, Salt Lake City) for a public showing of “Born to Rewild.”  In this documentary, we follow John Davis as he treks 5000 miles in 8 months from Mexico to Canada to bring awareness to the importance of connected wildlife corridors along the spine of the continent.TrekWest adventurer John Davis believes, if we learn to work together now, we can save what we love, AND benefit wide-ranging wildlife.  Introduction by Stacy Bare, Director, Sierra Club Outdoors. Panel Discussion to follow film, featuring John Davis himself!  VIEW TRAILER!
 

Next week kicks off our Citizen Science field season - in Sheeprocks!

We are excited for our first multi-day Citizen Science trip next week in the Sheeprock mountains, where we, with Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and our volunteers, will be performing "pre Beaver Dam Analogue" (basically human-made beaver dams, to be built this summer) stream and riparian health assessments.  We will come back out later in the season (and next year with another Citizen science team) to document whether the new BDA's help bring up the water table and repair the incised and entrenched Vernon Creek.  Also, BDA's are an important precursor for the real thing - beavers! Once beavers are back in the Sheeprocks one day, they can maintain the new Beaver Dam Analogues. Watch for updates of next week's Citizen science trip on Facebook, Instagram (#wildutahproject), and Allison's new Twitter acct (@allisonjoneswup)!

 

Thank you again for supporting the Wild Utah Project
and all of our work on behalf of wildlife and wildlands
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