The BLM has committed to conserving greater sage grouse habitat and is using the AIM strategy to monitor the status of this habitat; due to this requirement, AIM efforts have doubled in 2016. In 2015, the Lander Field Office in Wyoming took initiative to assess sage grouse habitat using the AIM methods to comply with the Habitat Assessment Framework (HAF). Using the terrestrial AIM indicators (see the Intro to AIM page here for a list) along with one supplemental indicator (i.e., sagebrush shape), the Lander FO was able to determine what proportion of the field office was suitable, marginal, and unsuitable for nesting/early brood-rearing and summer habitats.
Initial results showed that 60% of the Lander field office had suitable summer habitat while only 46% of the field office was considered suitable for nesting/early brood-rearing habitat.
The Lander field office sampled 62 sites (Figure 1) in 2015 (with the overall achievement of sampling 250 sites in 5 years) that were stratified across ecological sites. Several data layers were used to do the analysis including the LANDFIRE existing vegetation type (EVT), seasonal habitats gathered from state wildlife agencies, and ecological sites for the state of WY. In order to determine habitat suitability, the HAF was used to define habitat indicator objectives (see Tables 4-7 in the HAF). It’s important to note that you should be using the objectives that are in your corresponding Table 2.2 in your plan amendments. To determine the Lander field office habitat suitability ratings, indicator values were gathered from TerrADat which are given on a plot by plot basis (or site by site as some may call it). At each plot, habitat suitability was determined for each of the individual indicators and then finally the overall habitat suitability was determined by sample location and done by a wildlife biologist. Certain statistical analyses were done to correctly weight each of the points within the field office to determine overall habitat suitability of the field office. To learn more about the statistical analyses conducted, please refer to the AIM analysis page.
Initial results showed that about 46% of the Lander field office (Figure 2) had suitable nesting/early brood-rearing habitat, 40% marginal habitat, and about 14% unsuitable habitat. Sixty percent of the Lander field office (Figure 3) had suitable summer habitat, 28% marginal habitat, and 12% unsuitable habitat. These suitability rankings were determined after a wildlife biologist analyzed the individual indicators.
Figures 4 and 5 show the proportion of the field office where the nesting/early brood-rearing and summer habitat indicators were considered suitable respectively. The wildlife biologist determine what indicators were considered most important in determining habitat suitability. For example, sagebrush height (although low proportion of the field office was considered suitable) might not be considered as high a priority for summer habitat compared to sagebrush canopy cover where well over 60% of the field office was considered suitable.