By: Clay Wood, Wyoming SRM President Elect
This summer held quite a few activities across the state and, beyond that, Wyoming SRM sponsored or had heavy involvement from Section membership. One of these events was the Free-roaming Equids and Ecosystem Sustainability Summit held in Reno, Nevada. This Summit allowed for conversations to be held regarding the current status of managing wild horse and burrows, and to discuss how to move forward with management efforts. The Wyoming Section joined the Utah and Nevada Sections of SRM, along with The Wildlife Society and others, to co-sponsor this event.
Another issue facing Wyoming is the discovery of Ventenata and Medusahead in 2016. Since these two species have been discovered in the state a multi-agency working group, the Northeast Wyoming Invasive Grasses Working Group (NEWIGWG), has been formed to help determine the extent of the invasion and develop management strategies. Many of the members of this working group are Wyoming SRM members who work for federal, state, and local governments as well as non-profits and private entities. As part of the education efforts, NEWIGWG hosted a tour in June to educate interested parties on identification of the two species, to give updates on management options, and to showcase current research being conducted to combat these species in northeast Wyoming. Strong involvement of Wyoming SRM membership and their roles in various agencies promotes strong range science being used in assessing the level of invasion and determining best management practices at the state/Section level. This year’s tour had a great turnout with roughly 100 attendees from multiple states and backgrounds.
Wyoming SRM hosts an Annual Camp for youth and young adults, known as Wyoming Resource Education Days (WyRED), in June which focuses on all aspects of range management. Professionals from across the state come to the camp to teach participants about skills including plant identification and anatomy, soils, wildlife, hydrology, GPS mapping, and much more. The week is spent on the ground working with local ranches and seeing best management practices at work. In addition to learning new skills, there are also exams and competitions throughout the week to test the knowledge of the participants. WyRED has typically been a week-long camp, but over the past few years the curriculum has been adjusted to shorten the length of the camp to four days.
This year WyRED was held at the Squaw Butte Guest Ranch near Wheatland, Wyoming. We had good attendance at the WyRED 2019 with seven student participants and one adult who was attending for continuing education credits. It was great to have participation from such young students, as they are the future managers of our rangelands! There has also been excellent feedback on the adjustments to the curriculum, which the WyRED Committee and Wyoming Section will consider in the future to further improve this annual activity. Special thanks to this year’s WyRED hosts, the Squaw Butte Guest Ranch, and the many volunteers who continue to make this educational opportunity a success.
Our Section membership was also heavily involved in putting on three Ecological Site Description (ESD) workshops through the NRCS. Marji Patz and Bryan Christensen, both Wyoming SRM members who work on ESD development in Wyoming and beyond, provided much of the education for these workshops. Three workshops were held across Wyoming with excellent attendance from federal, state, and local agencies as well as some private citizens who wanted to expand their knowledge on ESD’s and their application to range management. The first workshop was held in the Wind River Basin covering 4 major land resource areas (MLRS’s) found within the basin and was attended by 10 people. Another workshop was held in the Big Horn Basin with seven people in attendance and covered MLRA’s 32 and 43B. This allowed participants to see the differences in the ecological sites ranging from the basin floor up into the Big Horn Mountains. The final ESD workshop focused on MLRA 43B in the Big Horn Mountains and had strong attendance with 17 participants. Overall, these workshops were a huge success and we thank our members who helped with organization and teaching the workshops and all others who made these efforts successful.
Overall, the Wyoming Section has had a very busy and successful summer and we are gearing up for our Annual Section meeting in October. This year we will be meeting in conjunction with the Colorado Section, which will allow for networking among our Sections and provide time for additional planning of the 2020 Annual Meeting in Denver.
Thank you again to our membership for all that they do to provide excellent educational opportunities across Wyoming for youth and adults alike. It is our membership that makes the Section and Society function, your efforts are greatly appreciated!