Current Edition

current edition

    The greater sage grouse, how can a medium sized bird cause such a commotion? Doesn’t Wyoming have more of the birds and their sagebrush habitats than anywhere in the USA?
    Well, yes. Much of the wild, open character of Wyoming’s rangelands is still intact and support a large, well-distributed population of grouse, but due to longterm declines throughout its western range, although Wyoming has seen a strong overall increase the last ten years, there is considerable concern about the bird’s future. Last year Governor Freudenthal asked a group of residents to bring their diverse understanding of sage grouse needs in Wyoming to bear on this issue.
    As most of us have heard there is considerable debate to list the sage grouse as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The only way to ensure a listing is not warranted is to demonstrate the population is not threatened and that adequate data and management practices are in place to restore numbers where needed or to maintain numbers where the grouse are doing well.
    The Governor’s Sage Grouse Conservation Implementation Team recommended that a principle need to improve management decisions in the future is to develop a better statewide map of sage grouse habitat using aerial photography and satellite images. A good habitat map of Wyoming will allow wildlife managers to focus their efforts more efficiently on places that could really help the birds while minimizing human conflicts.
    Ground samples are essential for improving interpretation of aerial imagery because they allow remote sensing scientists to understand what they are seeing in the images. Volunteers from across Wyoming will be crucial for collecting as much ground information as possible, because of the size of our state and because local knowledge of the land is so valuable.
    Samples will be needed across the entire state. Some of the sampling sites will fall on private land. Sampling private land sites will only occur with the concurrence of the private landowner. Landowners will be contacted in advance to determine willingness to participate by providing access and/or by collecting the vegetation data themselves. The assistance of the private landowner will add significantly to the success of the project. Landowners can help produce the best statewide map possible and learn more about their individual ranch by contributing to the ground sampling effort. The primary field data that will be collected at each sample site will include primary species of shrub, grasses and forbs present, percent canopy cover of shrubs grasses and forbs present, percent ground cover in terms of litter, rock, and bare ground, terrain features, such as slope, presence of cheat grass and other weeds and dominant soil color. Any data collected on private land is proprietary, only ‘generalized’ maps of the lands surveyed will be public.
    For a complete set of the sampling method and forms, information on training sessions, or to volunteer or provide habitat information that you have already collected from your own ranch vegetation inventory program, please contact the project lead – Eli J. Rodemaker, Remote Sensing Scientist, WyGISC, University of Wyoming. The first training to be held as part of this effort will begin at 9 a.m. on June 4 and stretch into June 5 in Laramie at the WyGISC offices. Rodemaker can also provide additional information on this event. Rodemaker’s contact information is 307-766-2794 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Those who can’t attend the training, but are interested are also encouraged to call. If enough requests are made additional trainings will be held in other areas of the state.
    Article provided by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department on behalf of the state’s sage grouse team.    
    Public collection of range monitoring data is a developing issue in the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) range program. It is undeniable that the BLM needs additional monitoring data. Every grazing permit we authorize must be analyzed in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, and issued with a decision the public can appeal. We need information to defend our decisions. However, the scope of the Wyoming range program makes it difficult for our range mangers to generate the monitoring data necessary to fully support the volume of permit renewal decisions we issue. The Wyoming BLM manages 18,000,000 acres of public land, and issues around 380 permits a year. Consequently we’re not in a position to say no thanks to willing cooperators, and we can’t be perceived as not wanting valid information.
    The problem with relying on outside source cooperators is that rangeland monitoring lends itself to a wide range of interpretation and complexity. Simply requiring cooperators to stick to “established protocols” doesn’t address the complexity, because the issue transcends just collecting data. Let’s say for example, a rancher and I agree to limit utilization to 50 percent. The meeting ends amicably with the rancher thinking the use cap is an average for the pasture, and me thinking it’s about use levels on green needlegrass (a cow favorite) along a transect right near the best water source in the pasture. Hopefully we’d get on the same page soon, because that is a very substantive difference. But what if the rancher and I never talked about that use level distinction, and the issue was left to a cooperator who would make that determination by the way the monitoring program was designed? Clearly, that scenario must be avoided.
    Data collection is just a component of a comprehensive monitoring program. The study design and evaluation process are equally important. Furthermore, monitoring is not the starting point of an effective range program. How do we choose what to monitor? First rate goals and objectives are the foundation. On a loamy site in the Bighorn Basin, my goal might be to increase the abundance of bluebunch wheatgrass, because bluebunch has the potential to produce both the most forage for cattle and hiding cover for grouse nesting. That is a good goal, but it is not measurable. Before I can specify a measurable objective, I need to establish where and how the data will be collected and evaluated. The where, what, and how part of a monitoring program links the BLM’s land use goals with the measurable objectives in a specific allotment. This is the critical function the BLM cannot delegate to the public.
    A permittee is not required to collect monitoring data. Anyone with legal public access is free to record their observations, and free to send their findings to the BLM. However placement of infrastructure (such as utilization cages), gets to the “how and where” part of the study design. If the BLM accepts cooperator data but fails to evaluate it, does it become part of the official record anyway? Clearly we need to formally accept or decline cooperator data in a timely manner, and communicate our intent to both the cooperator and the grazing permittee.
    The BLM’s challenge is to take advantage of offers of support, and honor the concept of public participation, without abdicating our responsibility. In the near future the Wyoming BLM State Office will issue guidance to the field offices designed to assure that we steer a steady course in our efforts to work with cooperators. I need to thank Kathleen Jachowski for her critical help in sorting out these important issues.
    This editorial was reprinted from the Guardians of the Range newsletter, March 2008 issue. A related news article appears on this page. Jim Cagney is Wyoming Range Program Lead for the Bureau of Land Management.

An open letter to Wyoming seniors and their loved ones:

It has come to my attention that certain groups or entities have been using my name to try and get donations from seniors. Some of these solicitations imply that folks won’t get their Social Security benefits unless they pay $10 and sign a petition addressed to me.

These letters are misleading and aim to prey on those who are vulnerable and worried. No one has to pay anyone in order to share their views with me, and these professional petition organizers are not as effective as they may claim.

I am working to make sure Social Security benefits remain available for the future to the hard-working Americans who have paid into the system and earned them. Signing a petition or sending money to an unknown agency will not affect your Social Security benefits. Reforming Social Security to make sure it remains solvent will.

I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone to remain wary of letters and calls from people you don’t know asking for money. I encourage everyone to contact my office directly if they have thoughts on legislation, or want to know my views on an issue.

My office number is 202-224-3424, or you can message me through You can also call any of my state offices, or make your views known to me by posting on my Facebook (@Mikeenzi) page, messaging me on Twitter (@SenatorEnzi), or even good old-fashioned mail at Senator Mike Enzi, United States Senate, Russell 379A, Washington, D.C. 20510.  It won’t cost you anything except a stamp.


U.S. Senator Michael Enzi, R-Wyo.

To the Editor:

I speak as an alumnus of Casper College 34 years ago. It seems that the Board of Trustees has lost the vision of what a community college truly is. This college is for the community – and for all of the state of Wyoming, for that matter.

They apparently view themselves as a part of government more than as community leaders. This is made apparent in the grossly overinflated costs projected in $5 million facility upgrades and $5 million for the arena at the ranch campus. Within the college itself, there are courses taught in construction, electrical and welding. The students could perform a major portion of the upgrades with instructors overseeing the work, in addition to regular inspections to ensure compliance with building codes.

It appears that we have community support and County Commissioners’ support, and I’m sure the faculty at the college is up to the challenge. The only thing that remains is to get the Board of Trustees on board with this.

We are missing a wonderful opportunity for Casper College to utilize the community in the community college system. I hope the Board of Trustees recognizes this resource before they sell off this wonderful education opportunity and buying more land on a hill somewhere.


Mike Cheser