The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wyoming office has mismanaged at least $14 million in easement payments, and employs supervisors who lack the knowledge to properly administer easement programs in the state. That’s according to a report from the Office of Inspector General. Easements are used to permanently retire a piece of land for conservation purposes.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service is trying to preserve blue heron habitat at a reservoir near Sundance by building artificial structures for the birds to nest on.
Habitat extension biologist Todd Caltrider is leading the effort. He says when the reservoir was created in the 1960s, native cottonwood trees, which is where the herons live, were flooded. Since then, the trees have been dying.
“There’s only about five trees left, and there’s very few branches left on them,” Caltrider said. “So they’re kind of running out of room to nest.”
Wyoming’s snowpack is roughly 20% lower than it was at this time last year. It’s currently at 83% of what is considered normal. But state water supply specialist Lee Hackleman says forecasts indicate that 2013 will be a “neutral year”, meaning we may end up with only slightly below average snowpack going into the summer.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are offering a new incentive to get farmers and ranchers to protectcertain species – including sage grouse – on their properties.
Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman says they want ranchers to do things like shifting their grazing patterns, in order to preserve sage grouse habitat. If a rancher signs on, he or she would get certain protections, if sage grouse end up on the Endangered Species List.