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Wyoming Governors Sage-Grouse Conservation Initiative: Habitat Mapping Project

Project Dates:
1 May 2008 - 30 June 2010

Funding Sponsor:
Wyoming Game and Fish Commission

Principal Investigator:
Eli Rodemaker

Co-Principal Investigators:
Jeff Hamerlinck, Jim Oakleaf, Eli Rodemaker, Zongbo Shang

Project Description:
In 2007 the Governor's Sage-Grouse Conservation Implementation Team identified a set of priorities needed for sage-grouse conservation in Wyoming. One of these priorities was an immediate need for information on the sage-grouse habitats in Wyoming. The Implementation Team convened a group of biologists, private and public land managers, and habitat information specialists to generate a scope of information needs and feasibility assessment of the information needs. The Implementation Team's information group selected two wor

From the recommendations of the Biologist and GIS/Mapping Committees appointed by the Governor's Sage-Grouse Conservation Implementation Team a project plan was developed by WyGISC in March and April 2008. Funding, once to Game and Fish from the legislature, was awarded to WyGISC under an existing Memorandum of Understanding and is to be performed over the period 5/1/08 to 6/30/10. Identified information was available by the end of 2008 to meet immediate needs, but the project also produced a framework for acquiring new information at appropriate map scales and is supporting collaborative sage-grouse habitat analysis through 2010.king committees, one to generate a list and description of information needs, the Biologists, and another group, the GIS/Mappers, to provide feedback on potential information sources usually in the form of a map. A wide range of potential information needs were identified, including those requiring long term study of many years. Short and long term planning to generate data is needed, but immediate information sources are required for decisions currently being made or in the near future.

The "Overall Dream" of the Implementation Team Committees was: high resolution continuous canopy cover of all plant species, by species; high resolution data for landscape and anthropogenic features; and detailed soil and hydrologic data.
The data collection process conducted by the Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center (WyGISC) throughout this effort strove to meet these needs, as well as to identify areas that will re

quire further data development to meet the full potential of the overall dream.

The project consists of four components: gathering and integration of sage-grouse habitat map data across Wyoming, statewide field data collection of sagebrush communities, generation of new sagebrush map information, and data dissemination, collaborative assistance, and maintenance.

Data gathering and integration involved an assessment of data availability, creating a scale dependent inventory of data and finally, publishing the gathered data online with proprietary controls as necessary. The data inventory provides a structural framework for an Internet-mapping application, and provides support for data input to the attribution of an existing sagebrush map component. The application will be used to standardize sage-grouse habitat data in Wyoming, provide a framework for appropriately using the data in decision support and habitat assessments at disparate spatial scales, and as a communication tool among users. Metadata will be placed within the Wyoming GeoLibrary, which serves as the data distribution mechanism for spatial data.

WyGISC is handling public distribution through the Wyoming GeoLibrary. Here users can directly obtain all public information and are directed to the appropriate data steward with regards to restricted data. For distribution to WGFD, a collection of DVDs have been created containing the entire database. This projec

t also provided funds for WyGISC to gather another round of data with regards to those layers which may change over the coming year. This will be done in spring of 2010 and distributed to the public and WGFD in the same manner as identified above.

To facilitate communication among partnering agencies with regards to creating this database, an application, the Wyoming Sage-Grouse Data Explorer, was developed allowing for users to view and comment on the database. This application is a user-restricted mapping application found on MyWyGISC. Further, the application, by inventory and displaying habitat layers, provides a robust tool for identifying data gaps. The identification of data gaps, at disparate scales, can then be used as a planning tool for future habitat data generation and integration.

The set of sagebrush species distribution maps generated by this project and the set of rangeland variable component maps generated by the USGS were created to meet the needs of multiple analysis requirements and not one set goal. It is intended that these data describe current ecological conditions for sage-grouse across Wyoming and will therefore provided baseline quantitative information. The data layers will be applic

able for a variety of uses and represent the ‘building blocks' or ‘ingredients' for a suite of potential habitat studies and are flexible enough to help answer a wide range of management questions.

Initial efforts, such as refinement of the Wyoming Governor's Sage-Grouse Core Areas, will focus on state-wide solutions to management analysis requirements, but we anticipate that regional differences across the state may require different recipes from the data. With the completion of this the report and our initial data development the project will provide collaborative support to analysis needs identified by the Governor's Sage-Grouse Implementation Team through June 2010.

Sage Grouse Application

Publications:
Rodemaker, E.L., Hamerlinck, J.D., Oakleaf, J.R., Shang, Z. Wyoming Governor's Sage-Grouse Conservation Initiative: Habitat Mapping Project. 2009 Annual Report: Data Gathering, Integration, Dissemination, and Maintenance. Annual Report to: Wyoming Game and Fish Commission: State of Wyoming Governor's Sage-Grouse Conservation Initiative. 21 July 2009 (pdf).


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