Cost-share opportunity can improve private land habitat
Sublette County Conservation District (SCCD) is now accepting applications for the Private Lands Enhancement Program (PLEP). This grant-funded initiative is in partnership with the Upper Green River Basin Wyoming Sage Grouse Local Work Group. Designed to help agricultural landowners in the county increase agricultural and/or rangeland productivity, the program will reimburse chosen applicants 50 percent of seed costs up to $2,500 per project. While the projects aim to add diversity and production value to the land, that value directly coincides with increased cover and forage availability for sage-grouse and other species.
Seventeen percent – 542,309 acres – of private land acres in Sublette County are zoned as Agriculture. Imagery analysis from 1984 to 2020 indicates a downward trend for perennial forb and grass ground cover for these acres (www.rangeland.app).
Not only is shrub cover important for the greater sage-grouse, but perennial forbs and grasses provide critical habitat elements during the breeding, nesting and brood-rearing seasons. Many private agricultural acres are also positioned near waterways, which are also critical for greater sage-grouse due to the higher number of forbs and insects available, especially during late-brood rearing.
SCCD gets several calls a year from private landowners throughout Sublette County that ask for recommendations to improve their private agricultural lands, including pastures, hay meadows and rangelands. In most cases, the landowner goals are focused on improving vegetation diversity and productivity. To assist landowners with these projects, SCCD has recently acquired a rangeland drill and a Lawson aerator, which are available to landowners within the county for free, regardless of enrollment in the PLEP.
By pairing the need of greater sage-grouse with the needs and desires of private landowners in Sublette County, pasture lands, hay lands and rangelands can become more productive and more diverse, offering greater ecosystem services that benefit all.
Opportunities for improved agriculture lands include, but are not limited to, planting pivot corners in desirable plant species, improving species diversity in homogenous hay stands and improving species diversity on rangelands where historic management has led to reduced biodiversity.
Applications are being accepted through Sept. 30. For more information, an application or to see if you qualify, visit sublettecd.com or call 307-367-2364. The Sublette County Conservation District Office is located at 217 Country Club Lane in Pinedale.