|Squaretop Allotment Sage-grouse Mitigation Project
One of the first projects to come to JIO from a mitigation perspective was the upgrading of several water wells and drilling of a new one. Each of these had a fenced out area (from livestock) with a pond and/or overflow from the water well to enhance vegetation within the enclosure. Insects are attracted to both riparian areas and areas of increased vegetation diversity. This is extremely important in the early days of the life of a sage-grouse chick; insects are a primary food source for sage-grouse chicks in the first few weeks of their lives. Increased vegetative diversity, especially species diversity, and increased heights with added mulch enhance habitat for insects. It is hoped that these areas may also produce a greater diversity of forbs, which are also important to chicks during their first few weeks.
Monitoring cameras have been placed in some of these enclosures and the photo above illustrates some of our first documented use by sage-grouse chicks. The larger photo is the one taken by the monitoring camera and the others are cropped images of the outlined box in the first photo; one of which has been enhanced to better illustrate the chick in the photo.
The first 3 weeks of the life of a sage-grouse chick are some of the most important, and their protein requirements (in the form of insects) are extremely important for their survival. As indicated above, taller vegetation, greater vegetative diversity, added wet areas and mulch all play a part of increasing insect abundance. This is a good indicator that these projects may be working!!