Chapman Bench is located approximatley 25 miles due north of Cody, Wyoming. Accessible form Wyoming Hwy 120 on route from Cody, WY to Belfry, MT. Chapman Bench is public, BLM manages lands along Hwy 120 prior to crossing the Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone River. The area is an extended flat upland "bench" that extends from teh Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone River on the north to the foothills of Heart Mountain on the south. Vegetation is predominantly shore grama grasslands with sandy arid soils. Sprase shrub cover of sagebrush and saltbrush is intermingled with the short grass prairie.

Ornithological Summary

Sagebrush/grassland bird species inhabit the area. Chapman Bench is considered to have an above average reproductive success rate, with the number of broods produced being approximately the same as "pairs".

Conservation Issues

To maintain the IBAs site integretiy, the BLM will maintain the special management status with priority to bird and wildlife habitat. Continue to manage grazing for the benefit of priority bird species. Encourage BLM to consider a permanent withdrawal that would keep the area off limits for any future mineral development or mining claims. Potential partnerships could help with water developments and prevention and control of weed infestations. Current management should maintain the habitat in a similar mix of short grass rangeland interspersed with sagebrush & bunchgrass vegetative communities that will preserve the integrity of the area as an IBA. There is some potential that this area could be opened for mineral leasing and development in the future. BLM should be encouraged to permanently withdraw Chapman Bench from mineral leasing. Grazing strategies should not be changed so that they become unfavorable to bird species or cause a vegetation shift from current types. Human development activities should not be permitted unless habitat can be protected and maintained. Any nearby impacting activities should be avoided during primary use periods.

Ownership

The BLM owns and manages the entire site. The BLM has improved rotational livestock grazing management and small watershed and riparian habitat improvement projects have been constructed. Livestock grazing during breeding and nesting periods has been removed for over 50% of the area annually with current grazing management agreements.

Habitat

Chapman Bench is an extended flat upland ?bench? that extends from the Clark?s Fork of the Yellowstone River, to the foothills of Heart Mountain. The vegetation is comprised of mostly short grama grasslands with sandy, arid soils. Sparse shrub cover of sagebrush and saltbush is intermingled with the grassland. Therefore area is considered a flat grassland prairie with a perennial riparian stream bordering the west and Clark?s Fork of the Yellowstone River bordering the north. Natural grasslands make up 80% of the habitat; shrub/brush (15%) and riparian areas (5%) make up the rest of the site. The area receives approximately 7-9 inches of precipitation per year. Adjacent lands are public and private rangelands with very little development or human intrusions in the vicinity. Chapman Bench is utilized primarily for rangeland for domestic livestock grazing and hunting opportunities.

Land Use

Currently this area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management as a special habitat area. Uses include an authorized grazing lease and undeveloped recreational activities. The grazing management is set up as a rest rotation grazing system with a full rest in alternating years for each pasture. The grazing period is May to June 15. This time period is favorable for lower grass height in grazed pastures that is better for ground nesting birds like mt. plover, long-billed curlews and horned larks. The rest pasture provides taller herbaceous cover for species like sage grouse, lark buntings and partridge. The area had recently (2002) undergone a status change that lifted a previous Bureau of Reclamation withdrawal that kept the area closed to mineral leasing. BLM has not yet made a determination on when or if Chapman bench will be opened for mineral leasing. The potential for mineral extraction development is very low even if leasing is allowed, but if development were to occur it could have significant impacts to nesting birds and other wildlife.