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Conservation Strategies

Threats

When settlement came to the arid West, water and raw materials were critical for progress and development. Large irrigation reservoirs and diversions were constructed on rivers and streams, and conveyance ditches were used to deliver water to newly cultivated fields. Forests were logged to supply construction lumber for growing communities, mineral industry, and rail companies. The once open grasslands and sage steppes were constrained by fences as the large herds of native migratory animals such as bison, elk, and pronghorn antelope were replaced with domestic livestock. The biological system that once evolved due to the dry climate, fires, and great herds of migratory wildlife was brought under control. These visible and quantitative landscape conversions are long-standing, yet more subtle and possibly damaging conversions continue to occur today. Native plants, wildlife, and fish are being replaced by uninvited exotic invaders, changing the composition, structure, and function of the ecosystem. Habitat fragmentation by unchecked expanding urbanization and mineral industry activities continues to be a major threat to fish and wildlife.


Conservation Strategies

An important landscape feature of Wyoming is the 2 million acres of wetlands scattered across the state. In arid climates such as Wyoming, these critical areas are home for many resident and migratory wildlife species. In fact, over 75% of all wildlife species rely on these wetlands for a part, or all of their lifecycle.

Oxbow restoration in the Lower Missouri River Drainage
Oxbow restoration in the Lower
Missouri River Drainage.

In portions of the state, significant wetland complexes or concentrations exist and are targeted as focal areas for Partners work. These areas are located predominantly in the Laramie Plains, Goshen Hole, Wind River Indian Reservation, Great Basin, and New Fork Pothole Region of the Upper Green River Basin.

The state is divided into five major river drainages (Focus Areas), as generally defined by the boundaries of the Intermountain West Joint Venture:

  1. Snake/Salt River
  2. Green/Bear River
  3. Wind/Bighorn River
  4. Lower Missouri River
  5. Platte River

Most Partners projects in Wyoming involve a combination of restorations. The cost for riparian fencing is about $7,000 per mile. Grassland restoration and enhancement costs about $4.55 per acre. Wetland restoration costs about $1,200 per acre.


Future Needs

riparian restoration along the Snake River photo

  • Restore 15,000 acres of wetlands
  • Restore or enhance 5 million acres of upland habitat
  • Restore 1,000 miles of riparian habitat
  • Restore 1,000 miles of in-stream habitat

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