Important Bird Areas

Killdeer Wetland

Wyoming

Killdeer
Wetlands, a 45-acre tract of lowlands owned by the City of Green River, U.S.
Bureau of Land Management and Pacificorp, is located immediately southwest of
town in the Green River floodplain. Historically, the wetland consisted of a
series of oxbows and channels that were flooded each spring by high flows of
the river.
    In 1964, Fontenelle Dam was constructed 50
miles upstream from Killdeer Wetlands to regulate river flows, interrupting the
annual flooding cycle and causing the wetlands to dry up. Over the years,
greasewood, sagebrush and invasive plants replaced native riparian vegetation.
    Since 1991, the Green River Greenbelt Task
Force has been working to restore Killdeer Wetlands. In 2010, a diversion
structure was installed in the riverbed to create a fish passage, a water level
control dike and a water delivery system to the wetlands. A major portion of
the former wetlands has been flooded, causing a dramatic increase in diversity,
species and numbers of shorebirds, waterfowl and other birds in the past 2 1/2
years.
    Future plans for habitat enhancement
include reintroduction of native riparian vegetation and removal of invasive
plants. Improved access will increase opportunities to observe birds and other
wildlife. Killdeer Wetlands Important Bird Area will be an avian preserve and a
place for visitors to develop a better understanding and appreciation of birds.

Conservation Issues

Due to the aforementioned dewatering (see general description,
page 1), which was a serious hydrologic change to the site, invasive plants
began to dominate the site, eventually causing habitat conversion from riparian
to sagebrush/schrub. This conversion also caused alkali dust to accumulate on
the surface, leading to air and water pollution threats. Subsequently, all of
these events disturbed the habitat of shorebirds, waterfowl, and other avian
fauna.
    The wetlands
restoration project enables the site to be flooded annually, reversing the
hydrological change. Plans to remove invasive plants and re-establish native
riparian vegetation will eventually reverse the habitat conversion, abate
pollution threats and restore bird habitat.

Ownership

The Green River Greenbelt Task Force is
authorized by the City of Green River (land owner) to assist in fundraising,
planning and development of the Greenbelt Project and Pathway system, which
includes Killdeer Wetlands. The Task Force also assists with education,
publicity and promotion of the Greenbelt Project and Pathway system.

Habitat

Killdeer Wetlands is a wintering ground for Bald Eagles, an
important stopover on the Green River corridor for migratory shorebirds and
waterfowl, including several species of concern and species of high
conservation priority in Wyoming. Migrant and resident birds of prey and
songbirds depend upon the wetlands, including several species of concern and
species of high conservation priority in Wyoming. Although Sage Grouse have not
been recorded in the wetlands, they are common in the surrounding area and no
doubt utilize this site. IBA status will aid in current efforts to restore the
wetlands, making the area even more important for Wyoming birds in the future.