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Gunnison Sage-grouse Ecology, San Juan County Utah Sarah G. Lupis, Sharon Ward, and Terry A. Messmer Utah State University Extension, Jack H. Berryman.

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Presentation on theme: "Gunnison Sage-grouse Ecology, San Juan County Utah Sarah G. Lupis, Sharon Ward, and Terry A. Messmer Utah State University Extension, Jack H. Berryman."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gunnison Sage-grouse Ecology, San Juan County Utah Sarah G. Lupis, Sharon Ward, and Terry A. Messmer Utah State University Extension, Jack H. Berryman Institute, & Utah’s Community-Based Conservation Program

2 Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Bureau of Land Management Utah State University San Juan County Extension Office Guy Wallace Dean Mitchell Tammy Wallace Doug Christiansen Don Andrews Fischer the dog…and others!

3 San Juan County Gunnison Sage- grouse Local Working Group (SWOG) identified the need to maintain and/or increase acreage of CRP in SJC In 1998, SJC was designated a “priority conservation area” because of Gunnison Sage-grouse 21,600 acres currently enrolled Needed to evaluate the value of CRP Little known about seasonal habitat use

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5 Study Area

6 Conservation Reserve Program Concentrated Use Zone Grazed CRP

7 What are important seasonal habitats? Do Gunnison Sage-grouse use CRP? Does CRP help to achieve desired vegetation conditions? What is the response of Gunnison Sage-grouse to the emergency grazing of some CRP fields? Objectives

8 In June 2002, a drought emergency was declared for SJC Precipitation was 40% below normal

9 Some CRP was opened to emergency grazing due to drought conditions Emergency grazing substituted for regular, required maintenance of CRP

10 Destruction of sagebrush by bedding livestock Deterioration of wet meadow habitat Trampled eggs Abandoned nests Grazing Debate…briefly Beck and Mitchell 2000

11 Destruction of sagebrush by bedding livestock Deterioration of wet meadow habitat Trampled eggs Abandoned nests Stimulated forb growth Grazing Debate…briefly Beck and Mitchell 2000

12 Destruction of sagebrush by bedding livestock Deterioration of wet meadow habitat Trampled eggs Abandoned nests Simulated forb growth In general, little empirical evidence about sage-grouse responses to grazing. Grazing Debate…briefly Beck and Mitchell 2000

13 YearMaleFemale Monitored 41 Gunnison Sage-grouse in Located birds  3 times a week Nests were considered successful if  1 egg hatched; broods were considered successful if  1 chick survived to 50 days post-hatch

14 Use of CRP Defined a “concentrated use zone” that encompassed all bird locations –Considered to be “available” for all radio-collared birds 31% CRP Manley et al. 2002

15 Bird Use Sites Percent cover of grasses, forbs, and shrubs using a Daubenmire frame every 2 meters. Daubenmire 1959

16 Use of CRP 14/19 hens nested (6) 40% nests in CRP 4 successful broods 73% of brood locations in CRP

17 Use of CRP 74% male locations in CRP 49% broodless hen locations in CRP Moose Peterson

18 Use of CRP Sample size small but, given small population size, still somewhat representative Use of CRP high (48.5%, 73.8%, 72.9%) Use of CRP not significant ( χ 2, P  0.05) for nesting, brood-rearing, males, or broodless hens during this study

19 Bird Use Sites CRP sites used by Gunnison Sage-grouse partially met rangewide guidelines. Gunnison Sage-grouse Use SitesRangewide Guidelines NestsBroodsBroodless Hens MalesBreedingLate Summer/Fall % Covern=1n=9 n=45 Grass Forb Shrub Litter Gunnison Sage-grouse Rangewide Steering Committee 2005

20 Landscape Scale Habitat Use CRP likely provides roosting cover and food resources –Alfalfa, dandelions, and other forbs –Insects

21 Emergency Grazing FieldAUMDurationUtilization June-late July75% June- 2 August75% August-2 September 80% July-mid- September 65% NRCS 2002

22 Emergency Grazing Evaluated movement patters of radio- collared birds in area open to emergency grazing –3 males –2 broodless hens –1 hen with a brood

23 Emergency Grazing 42.8% (18/42) locations were in CRP prior to grazing During grazing, use of CRP decreased –18.2% of locations (2/11) in Field 1 –37.5% of locations (3/8) in Field 4 –No locations in Field 2 or 3 Radio-collared Males

24 Emergency Grazing 56.0% (14/25) locations were in CRP prior to grazing During grazing, use of CRP decreased –8.3% of locations (1/12) in Field 1 –5.3% of locations (1/19) in Field 2 –No locations in Field 3 or 4 Radio-collared Broodless Hens

25 Hen and brood did not exhibit avoidance 50% of locations in CRP before grazing 72.7% (8/11) locations in CRP during and after grazing. Emergency Grazing During and After Emergency Grazing Before Emergency Grazing

26 Emergency Grazing Vegetation at brood use sites prior to and during/after emergency grazing. –Less grass cover –Less shrub cover –Greater forb cover –Similar litter cover

27 Emergency Grazing Most radio-collared birds showed some avoidance of grazed CRP Hen with a brood was most tolerant Some indication that brood use shifted from grass to shrub dominated as grasses were reduced Returned to grazed fields in subsequent years

28 Winter Habitat Use 29 birds monitored during winters Most locations in black sagebrush and (52%) big sagebrush/CRP (25%) Home range less than 4 sq. km Flock size 2-30 plus birds

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30 Conclusions CRP in San Juan County provides crucial breeding and summer habitat for Gunnison Sage-grouse CRP partially meets guidelines for desired breeding/summer conditions Most radio-collared Gunnison Sage- grouse exhibited short-term avoidance of livestock grazing Black sagebrush and big sagebrush/CRP important winter habitat

31 Recommendations Maintain current enrollment in CRP Sagebrush plantings Wet meadow development Winter habitat protection

32 For more information: Utah’s Community-Based Conservation Program: Questions?


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