2017 Top 10 Rays of Hope from Wild Utah Project
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!