The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a long tradition of scientific excellence and always uses the best-available science to inform its work to conserve fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitat for the benefit of the American public.
Created in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, today's National Wildlife Refuge System protects habitats and wildlife across the country, from the Alaskan tundra to subtropical wetlands. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Refuge System's 560-plus refuges cover more than 150 million acres and protect nearly 1,400 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
While national wildlife refuges were created to protect wildlife, they are for people too. Refuges are ideal places for people of all ages to explore and connect with the natural world. We invite you to learn more about and visit the national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
The Mountain-Prairie Region's Office of Ecological Services (ES) works to restore and protect healthy populations of fish, wildlife, and plants and the environments upon which they depend. Using the best available science, ES personnel work with Federal, State, Tribal, local, and non-profit stakeholders, as well as private land owners, to avoid, minimize, and mitigate threats to our Nation's natural resources.
Providing leadership in the conservation of migratory bird habitat through partnerships, grants, and outreach for present and future generations. The Migratory Bird Program is responsible for maintaining healthy migratory bird populations for the benefit of the American people.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program in the Mountain-Prairie Region helps conserve, protect, and enhance aquatic resources and provides economically valuable recreational fishing to anglers across the country. The program comprises 12 National Fish Hatcheries.
Law enforcement is essential to virtually every aspect of wildlife conservation. The Office of Law Enforcement contributes to Service efforts to manage ecosystems, save endangered species, conserve migratory birds, preserve wildlife habitat, restore fisheries, combat invasive species, and promote international wildlife conservation.
External Affairs staff in the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides support to the regional office and field stations to communicate and facilitate information about the Service's programs to the public, media, Congress, Tribes, partners, and other stakeholders in the 8-state region.
Fremont County rockcress. Credit: Bonnie Heidel, Botanist, WYNDD.
Fremont County rockcress (Boechera pusilla)
Species information: The Fremont County rockcress (Boechera pusilla) is a perennial herb found only in the southern foothills of the Wind River Range in Wyoming on land administered by the Bureau of Land Management. There is only one known population of this species.
The range of the Fremont County rockcress is approximately 160 acres, with occupied habitat estimates ranging from 6–16 acres. Botanists have surveyed for the plant systematically in other areas and discovered no additional populations, but some areas with potential habitat have not been surveyed.
The Fremont County rockcress has a short growing season. It reproduces by seed with no fertilization, resulting in offspring that are essentially clones.
The plant was first collected in 1981. It occupies sparsely vegetated, coarse granite soil pockets in exposed granite-pegmatite outcrops at an elevation between 8,000 to 8,100 feet. The soils are poorly developed, very shallow, and possibly sub-irrigated by runoff from the adjacent exposed bedrock (solid consolidated rock).
Due to the Bureau of Land Management’s conservation actions, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the Fremont County rockcress, a high-elevation perennial herb found only in the southern foothills of the Wind River Range in Wyoming, is not warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
Prior to making this determination, the Service used the best available science to complete an in-depth Species Status Assessment for this unique plant species. The assessment evaluated current conditions and potential threats to the plant such as recreation, invasive plants, and energy development. The analysis determined there are no immediate threats to the plant, largely due to the conservation actions implemented by the Bureau of Land Management, which manages the land on which the Fremont County rockcress lives, and due to a Secretarial Public Land Order removing this species’ habitat from settlement, sale, location, or entry under general land laws. As a result, the assessment concluded the plant is not in danger of becoming extinct now or in the foreseeable future.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service analyzed potential factors that may affect the habitat or range of the Fremont County rockcress including recreational activities, energy development, nonnative invasive plants, climate change, drought, overutilization, disease, predation (grazing and herbivory), inadequate regulatory mechanisms, small population size, and other threats not yet fully identified.
In order for a population to sustain itself, there must be enough reproducing individuals and habitat to ensure its survival. Because the Fremont County rockcress occurs in relatively small numbers, we consider small population size to be a threat to the species.
In addition to actual population size of the Freemont County rockcress, an unknown threat or threats may be present in the species. We have no information on the nature of the threat or threats, but the reduced population numbers demonstrate some type of threat is present.
Because of these factors, we believe the Fremont County rockcress warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We are unable to proceed with a listing proposal at this time because we must address other listings of higher priority. The Fremont County rockcress will added to the list of candidate species under the ESA and will be proposed for listing when funding and workload priorities for other listing actions allow.
During this same status review, we also found that the Yellowstone sand verbena (found in Yellowstone National Park), Ross’ bentgrass (found in Yellowstone National Park), Precocious milkvetch (found on the shale bluffs of the Henrys Fork River near McKinnon, WY), and Gibbens’ penstemon (found near the intersection of the borders of Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah) do not require protection under the ESA.