CONSERVATION PLANNING FOR A SPECIES IN PERIL
|Marie Racioppa; email@example.com; Brad Fedy|
The sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) steppe in the western United States is suffering from substantial habitat loss due to extractive and renewable resource industries. Ensuring the persistence of the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter “sage-grouse”) requires protecting the remaining sagebrush habitat and restoring degraded areas. We used existing ecological datasets predicting sage-grouse seasonal habitat suitability, genetic connectivity, and development probability with the software prioritizr to build spatial prioritizations. Our study area was the Rock Springs Field Office (RSFO) a field office within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in southwestern Wyoming. We identified priority areas for conservation including and outside of the PACs, priority areas on private land for consideration as conservation easements, and areas expected to be suitable for restoration. We incorporated migratory routes of elk and mule deer (Cervus canadensis and Odocoileus hemionus) into our prioritizations and identified sites important to both sage-grouse and ungulate species. Prioritizations were assessed in quality determining irreplaceability, contiguity, and return on investment (ROI). We identified vulnerability in the brood season due to relatively less PAC coverage. We suggest highly irreplaceable priority areas linking PACs in the northeast and to the east of the Green River should take conservation priority for the RSFO.