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!

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