Strategic Habitat Conservation (SHC)
SHC is a science-based approach to guide our conservation work with more integrated information and more cross-programmatic collaboration to achieve specific biological outcomes. This approach is based on an adaptive, iterative process of biological planning, conservation design and delivery, monitoring, and research. SHC is an application of the scientific method and principles of adaptive management to conservation at multiple spatial scales.
Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI)
The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) is a long-term science based effort to enhance aquatic and terrestrial habitats at a landscape scale in Southwest Wyoming, while facilitating responsible development.
The WLCI is a collaborative program that involves multiple partners in addressing multiple concerns at a scale that considers all activities on the landscape. Projects have included fencing, wetland creation, prescribed burns, riparian enhancements, weed treatments and river restoration. The WLCI program involves multiple Service programs, including Ecological Services, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, Fish and Wildlife Management Assistance, and National Wildlife Refuges. Additional information about the WLCI program is available on the WLCI website http://www.wlci.gov/.
Wetlands and Riparian Protection
Wetlands perform significant ecological functions which include: (1) providing habitat for numerous aquatic and terrestrial wildlife species, (2) aiding in the dispersal of floods, (3) improving water quality through retention and assimilation of pollutants from storm water runoff, and (4) recharging the aquifer. Wetlands also possess aesthetic and recreational values. If wetlands may be destroyed or degraded by the proposed action, those wetlands in the project area should be inventoried and fully described in terms of their functions and values. Acreage of wetlands, by type, should be disclosed and specific actions should be outlined to avoid, minimize, and compensate for all unavoidable wetland impacts.
Riparian or streamside areas are a valuable natural resource and impacts to these areas should be avoided whenever possible. Riparian areas are among the most productive wildlife habitat types in North America. They support a greater variety of wildlife than any other habitat. Riparian vegetation plays an important role in protecting streams, reducing erosion and sedimentation as well as improving water quality, maintaining the water table, controlling flooding, and providing shade and cover. In view of their importance and relative scarcity, impacts to riparian areas should be avoided. Any potential, unavoidable encroachment into these areas should be further avoided and minimized. Unavoidable impacts to streams should be assessed in terms of their functions and values, linear feet and vegetation type lost, potential effects on wildlife, and potential effects on bank stability and water quality. Measures to compensate for unavoidable losses of riparian areas should be developed and implemented as part of the project.
Plans for mitigating unavoidable impacts to wetland and riparian areas should include mitigation goals and objectives, methodologies, time frames for implementation, success criteria, and monitoring to determine if the mitigation is successful. The mitigation plan should also include a contingency plan to be implemented should the mitigation not be successful. In addition, wetland restoration, creation, enhancement, and/or preservation does not compensate for loss of stream habitat; streams and wetlands have different functions and provide different habitat values for fish and wildlife resources.
Best Management Practices (BMPs) should be implemented within the project area wherever possible. BMPs include, but are not limited to, the following: installation of sediment and erosion control devices (e.g., silt fences, hay bales, temporary sediment control basins, erosion control matting); adequate and continued maintenance of sediment and erosion control devices to insure their effectiveness; minimization of the construction disturbance area to further avoid streams, wetlands, and riparian areas; location of equipment staging, fueling, and maintenance areas outside of wetlands, streams, riparian areas, and floodplains; and re-seeding and re-planting of riparian vegetation native to Wyoming in order to stabilize shorelines and streambanks.