ecosystem

Draper Natural History Museum

The Clark’s Nutcracker is a high mountain bird located in the Western U.S. The bird is pretty unique for its ability to cache said Corey Anco, the assistant curator of the Draper Natural History Museum. 

Flickr Creative Commons/momo go via Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Western states are likely to be affected most by the Trump administration's proposal to roll back parts of the Clean Water Act. The Environmental Protection Agency would no longer give special protections to thousands of miles of seasonal streams and millions of acres of wetlands that often go dry by late summer in the arid West. That would leave states to decide whether to protect such waters themselves. 

New Wyoming Game and Fish Department Website Page
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has released a new section of its website devoted to wetlands. Information has long been sprinkled around the website, but until now there has never been a one-stop shop to learn about the ecosystem. A team has been working on putting together the webpage for about a year. 

Ian Tator, statewide terrestrial habitat manager for the Game and Fish Department, said wetlands are critical to Wyoming’s wildlife even though they only comprise 2 percent of the state.

South-facing slope covered in cheat grass near medicine bow forest
Cooper McKim

Near Medicine Bow Forest, there’s a scenic road that cuts in between a valley. The north face is shaded, covered with small flowers, trees, and dark green plant life — edible to deer and small animals. The south face doesn’t look so good.

Lindsey Wheat, Supervisor at the Albany County Weed and Pest Council, said, “You see over here on this slope, you see nothing but rocks, cheat grass, not a lot of animals are going to hang out in there."

National Park Service

Yellowstone biologists are winning the war against invasive Lake Trout, and bringing back native Yellowstone Cutthroat.

Yellowstone Lake is a cold place. If you’re out on the lake even in the middle of the summer, you’ll need a jacket. So, when we went out in a boat with Yellowstone’s leader of the Cutthroat Trout restoration project, it was chilly.

Yellowstone Lake is the largest fresh water lake above 7000 feet in north America. It is also very deep, and cold. That is why non-native Lake Trout have thrived here. They evolved in the Great Lakes. 

Willow Belden

When energy development happens on public lands, companies have to reclaim the land. That means restoring the landscape after it’s been disturbed. But exactly what’s required varies from one part of the state to another. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports that agencies are making those rules more consistent, in hopes of helping keep sage grouse off the endangered species list.

Cool Planet Energy Systems

More than 40 million acres of trees have been killed by bark beetles in the Rocky Mountain West over the last two decades. Those trees are an eyesore, and as we heard in the last story, a source of carbon dioxide. But a new project is trying to find an upside to the epidemic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given researchers at five western universities, including the University of Wyoming, $10 million to see if those dead trees can be converted into gasoline.