Important Bird Areas

Gros Ventre Riparian Complex

Wyoming

The Gros Ventre Riparian Complex is located north of the town of Jackson, Wyoming. The Gros Ventre River bounds the north side of the complex and the entire area is located within the National Elk Refuge boundaries. The area is a long, narrow riparian zone following the Gros Ventre River and is characterized by its mature cottonwood gallery and associated ponds. The Gros Ventre Riparian Complex was part of the mitigation project due to the reconstruction of Jackson Lake Dam. The area itself was not damaged by the reconstruction but the ponds were constructed as mitigation for the damage done at Jackson Lake. In 1990 a proposal was introduced in order to create or enhance the wetlands within the National Elk Refuge because of the damage caused by reconstruction of Jackson Lake Dam. The draw down that occurred while repairing the Jackson Lake Dam destroyed aquatic plant beds, important to fish, invertebrates, and migratory birds. Therefore plans were made to improve and expand several ponds (Pierre?s Ponds 1 & 2 (21.47 acres), and Romney 1, 2, & 3 Ponds (40 acres)) within the area to mitigation for Jackson Dam repairs.

Ornithological Summary

The Gros Ventre Riparian Complex Project Area contains a rich diversity of habitats including wetland ponds and marshes, natural sloughs and oxbow, willows, and grassland. The major habitat type within the project area is high elevation riparian and secondary habitat types include: grassland, wetland, open water and shore/bank. The entire project area is federally owned and managed by the NER; therefore the primary habitat function is for wildlife conservation. Over the past 15 years the area has proven to be critical habitat for many migrating and breeding birds as well as habitat for other wildlife. Avian species that have been documented using the area include:
?X Bald Eagles?Xeagles are seen year round, nesting has not been documented but is suspected.
?X Trumpeter Swans?Xswans have nested for the past decade in Pierre??s Pond (just south of the project area within NER boundaries). Swans also winter (20-30) at Bill??s Bayou and use all the ponds (including Romney 1, 2, & 3 Ponds) during spring and fall periods. With the wetland improvement, there is a great possibility of increasing nesting pairs with the NER as well as creating nesting habitat in the project area.
?X Peregrine Falcons?Xoften seen foraging during the breeding season (possibility of breeding).
?X Waterfowl: numerous species of ducks use the mitigation ponds.
?X Shorebirds: the marshes provide nesting habitat for common yellowthroats, Virginia rails, and sora, these species are not found at many locations in the Jackson area.

Additional species of concern that inhabit the area include: Lewis?? Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Dusky Flycatcher, Cordilleran Flycatcher, American Dipper, and Brewer??s Sparrow. The list of avian species that rely on the Gros Ventre Riparian Complex Project area speaks for itself. The area is a critical breeding, nesting, and migration stopover and wintering site for hundreds of birds. In a state with limited water resources, small wetland complexes are key to a bird species success or failure.

Habitat

The Gros Ventre Riparian Complex contains a long, narrow riparian zone within the National Elk Refuge (NER) that follows the Gros Ventre River and is characterized by mature cottonwood galleries and associated ponds. Area also supports a rich diversity of habitats including wetland ponds and marshes, natural sloughs and oxbow, willows, and grassland. The Gros Ventre Riparian Complex was part of the mitigation project due to the reconstruction of Jackson Lake Dam. The area itself was not damaged by the reconstruction; however, five ponds (Pierre?s Ponds 1 & 2 ((21.47 acres)), and Romney 1, 2, & 3 Ponds ((40 acres)) were constructed as mitigation for the damage done at Jackson Lake. In 1990 as a mitigation measure to offset the damage caused by reconstruction of Jackson Lake Dam, a proposal was introduced to create or enhance wetlands within the NER. The draw down that occurred while repairing the Jackson Lake Dam destroyed aquatic plant beds important to fish, invertebrates, and migratory birds. Therefore plans were made to improve and expand several ponds within the Gros Ventre Riparian Complex as mitigation for Jackson Dam repairs.
Since the construction of the wetland complex the area has become a haven for Neo-tropical migratory birds, waterfowl, shorebirds, eagles, and Trumpeter Swans. The original mitigation project in 1990 created an area rich in habitat diversity including wetland ponds and marshes, natural sloughs and oxbow, willows, and grassland. Public access is not allowed during winter and the few access roads are not open to the public in summer, although hiking is allowed. The area is not greatly utilized by the public, making it a true undisturbed refuge for wildlife. The area has become a critical site for migrating and breeding waterfowl, shorebirds, and Neo-tropical migrants, as well as habitat for Trumpeter Swans.