Evaluating Habitat Aeration Treatments
in Wyoming’s Northern Johnson County
(Northern Rolling High Plains)
Evaluating Habitat Aeration Treatments in Wyoming’s Northern Johnson
County (Northern Rolling High Plains)
September 26, 2007
Tyler Emme, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Habitat Biologist Technician
Ryan Murray, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rangeland Management Specialist
Abstract: Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) have become a species of concern,
due to a wide-range population decline. Local working groups along with state and federal
conservation and wildlife organizations have implemented management practices to improve
sage-grouse habitat and ultimately protect populations from further decline.
A pasture aerator has been used to enhance sage-grouse habitat in several western states,
including Northern Johnson County of Wyoming (Lake DeSmet Conservation District).
Aeration and broadcast seeding treatments were conducted to improve rangeland condition and
promote forb growth (Lake DeSmet Sage-Grouse Habitat Management Project). The Wyoming
Game and Fish Department (WGFD) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
evaluated these to determine plant community changes.
These treatments resulted in many changes in the plant communities. The majority of sites
showed a decrease in low seral species that reduce rangeland health such as blue grama
(Bouteloua gracilis) and threadleaf sedge (Carex filifolia). An increase in western wheatgrass
(Pascopyrum smithii) was observed on all sites. Valuable forbs such as American vetch (Vicia
Americana) and shrubs such as winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata) increased in treated sites
with and without seeding. Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia t