BLM - Bureau of Land Management

01/24/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/24/2018 09:44

BLM Cody and partners improve wildlife habitat in Devil’s Canyon

CODY, Wyo. - The Bureau of Land Management, Big Horn County Weed and Pest, Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently completed ten years of cheatgrass treatments in the Devil's Canyon area east of Lovell. Partnerships like this are an essential component of the BLM's mission to practice shared conservation stewardship on public land.

During fall 2017, imazapic herbicide (Plateau) was sprayed from a helicopter on 233 acres of BLM-managed public land to combat cheatgrass expansion and improve habitat for bighorn sheep and other wildlife. To date, 1,200 acres of public land have been treated in the Devil's Canyon area, with treatments expected to continue over the next several years.

'As we have seen in the Bighorn Basin, cheatgrass has the potential to increase and dominate plant communities by rapidly displacing native species,' said Bryan McKenzie, BLM range management specialist who coordinates the project for the Cody Field Office. 'The goal of the treatment is to provide the slower growing native plants, many of which are tolerant of Plateau, with time to recover and compete.'

Long-term monitoring studies have been established in the project area and preliminary results show an upward trend in native vegetation.

'It takes partnerships like this to maintain productive habitat for bighorn sheep,' said Steve Kilpatrick, executive director of the Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation. 'The sheep need high-quality groceries to maintain body condition, ward off diseases, reproduce, have healthy, larger lambs and grow big horns.'

The Devil's Canyon area on the west slope of the Bighorn Mountains contains important wildlife habitat for elk, deer and greater sage-grouse, in addition to bighorn sheep. The productive and growing resident bighorn sheep herd is regularly used to augment bighorn sheep populations elsewhere in Wyoming.

BLM partnerships like this one with Big Horn County Weed and Pest, Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation are vital to the BLM's mission of keeping public landscapes healthy and productive for the benefit of wildlife, traditional land uses like grazing, and other resources and uses. All partners contributed to funding and application of the herbicide.

For more information, please contact McKenzie at 307-578-5900.