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!