Audubon Rockies plans to create a comprehensive bird habitat improvement plan for the Pathfinder National Wildlife Refuge at Steamboat Lake outside of Casper.
The wildlife refuge is an important bird habitat area surrounded by grass and sage brush. It is home to many nesting and migrating birds.
BP gave Audubon Rockies a one-year, $100,000 planning grant to help identify habitat improvement activities on the refuge. The funds were provided from BP as mitigation for the closing and drying up of another Audubon identified Important Bird Area, Soda Lake located in Casper, WY. Soda Lake was nominated and accepted as one of Audubon Important Bird Areas in Wyoming in 2000. IBAs are sites that provide essential habitat to one or more species of birds during some portion of the year (nesting areas, crucial migration stop-over sites, or wintering grounds). BP decided that the lake would be allowed to dry up due to the cost of maintaining the site and other issues, thus the established bird nesting habitat (particularly the colonial waterbird species) has been eliminated. In addition to the loss of bird nesting habitat, the Murie Audubon Chapter and other Casper citizens have lost the opportunity to watch and enjoy the wildlife and birds that inhabited the area. Audubon will then work with refuge managers to gather information to help design a comprehensive habitat improvement plan for the refuge.
A part of the plan would also address enhancing wildlife viewing opportunities which include increased and updated interpretive signs regarding Steamboat Lake, as well as the potential of a viewing platform, according to a release from Audubon Rockies.
Much-Needed Rest for the Weary: Creating Better Bird Habitat
With the long Wyoming winter months almost behind us, we all begin looking for sure signs of warm weather to come. Everyone has a different sign they look to. For some, it may be the sagebrush getting its new blue-green color that covers the desert, or the grass greening in their front yard. For many bird lovers it is the arrival of the many waterfowl and shorebirds that begin to appear on the chilly reservoirs, lakes, ponds, and rivers. Wyoming is well known for its dry sagebrush plains. But, the water that snakes through and dots the landscape supports thousands of ducks, geese, and shorebirds during perilous migration. Many times, the water serves as critical breeding grounds. Even small areas of water provide life sustaining habitat for many wildlife species, and can be critical to their survival, at some point during the year.
Pathfinder National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) just west of Casper, WY, is one such area in a sea of grass and sage. Pathfinder NWR is home to many nesting and migrating birds including American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Phalarope, Spotted Sandpiper, Ruddy Duck, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, and Hooded Merganser, just to name a few.
To ensure that these and other species have the habitat they need to survive, BP, has provided migration funds to Audubon Rockies with a one-year, $100,000 planning grant to help identify and design habitat improvement activities on Pathfinder NWR. Audubon Rockies is working with the Refuge managers and other partners to gather the data and information needed to help design a comprehensive habitat improvement plan for the refuge in order to ensure our feathered friends always have a home and/or safe haven to stop during their travels. Some activities being considered include: replacing and enhancing migrating and nesting bird habitat through increasing the shorebird and waterfowl nesting habitats around Steamboat Lake by manipulating the bank/shore distance to uplands as well as repair and replace fencing and expanding bulrush habitat. A part of the plan would also address enhancing wildlife viewing opportunities which include increased and updated interpretive signs regarding Steamboat Lake, as well as the potential of a viewing platform.