In fall 2018, Sheridan Region Terrestrial Habitat Biologist Todd Caltrider began working with members of the Spring Creek Grazing Association on a long-range plan to improve range conditions through a variety of projects on the Thunder Basin National Grassland and several adjoining private properties northeast of Gillette.
“They have a hard time getting good distribution of their livestock in that area because there is very little water available,” said Caltrider. “The livestock congregate near the few water sources and utilize these mesic areas heavily while other areas further from water get very little grazing pressure.”
To better disperse grazing, which benefits wildlife and livestock through improved range conditions, a series of additional water sources are being placed in selected areas. This past summer, one new well was drilled and three watering tanks and 5,457 feet of water pipeline were installed.
In addition, 9.37 miles of existing pasture fence were retrofitted to a wildlife-friendly design and 2.3 miles of wildlife-friendly cross-fencing were constructed to facilitate easier movement for wildlife, while safely containing livestock.
“If we can add water and implement grazing rotation systems, we’ll give those areas with concentrated grazing pressure a chance to recover,” said Caltrider. “This will help improve brood-rearing habitat for sage grouse and fawn-rearing habitat for mule deer.”
The project is funded by $340,000 in grants from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Habitat Trust, the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management.