September "Insider Scoop"

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!

 

 

June 2017 Edition of "Insider Scoop"

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!

***

  

 

May Wild Uutah Project Insider Scoop

Lots going on this spring 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
***

 

Latest Insider Scoop - February 09, 2017

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.  It would seem that this “Scoop” is heavy on WUP speaking engagements in February….see below! 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[MP1] , and “emeritus extraordinaire” Jim Catlin.

Our Director Allison giving a presentation at Main Library Feb 15 on the importance of conserved and connected roadless areas for Utah’s wildlife.

Allison has been invited by Western Wildlife Conservancy and a new Utah group, called “Utah Wants Wolves,” to participate in a new quarterly lecture series at the SLC downtown Main Library.  Come join us on next Wednesday, February 15 at 7 pm as Allisondiscusses the basic concepts of wildland network design and why preserving blocks of connected habitat helps to ensure functional and viable wildlife populations, including especially top-level predators. We'll discuss how some of the Utah Wants Wolves partner groups such as Western Wildlife Conservancy, Wildlands Network, Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, and Wild Utah Project are working through various campaigns to conserve these "core" areas, while also working for better land and wildlife management policies in the public land "matrix" around the currently protected and hopefully future protected national parks, monuments and wilderness areas of Utah.  We will be meeting in the downtown SLC Main Library Room B (downstairs)  Here’s the link to the Facebook Event Page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/604791019729113/, where you can RSVP for this FREE event, and invite friends.  See you there!

Join us for dinner and Climate Change Discussion Panel, February 23, hosted by the Village Square

Utah has recently established a state chapter of a national movement, the Village Square. The new Utah Chapter is hosting a –roughly– quarterly lecture/panel discussion series on various topics of interest here in our state. This month’s panel discussion on February 23 from 6:00 to 8:30 pm will take place at the SLC downtown Main Library, and is called “Climate Conversations at the Village Square.”  We will begin with a light dinner, followed by a panelist discussion covering the full spectrum of climate views from a wide range of guests, including Derek Monson with the Sutherland Institute, Robert Davies with Utah State University, Michelle Straube with the University of Utah’s Environmental Dispute Resolution Program, George Handley with BYU, Laura Nelson with the Utah Governor’s Office, and our own Allison Jones, Director of Wild Utah Project.  Allison will be discussing the impacts of climate change on wildlife and wildlife habitats.  Opportunity for audience questions and discussion will take place after panel talks.  Space is limited so if you would like to attend this free event, be sure to reserve your seat ahead of time through the Utah Village square event page: http://utah.villagesquare.us/event/climate-change/ 

Thank you for supporting Wild Utah Project and our work on behalf of wildlife and wildlands.