Important Bird Areas

Little Sandy Landscape

Wyoming

The Little Sandy Landscape is a largely intact sagebrush-steppe ecosystem that provides all the seasonal habitats (lekking, nesting, brood-rearing, winter) to support a sustainable and sizable population of Greater Sage-Grouse year-round. At least two 100+ cock leks are known to exist in the area along with 12 other known active leks. Sage-grouse require intact landscapes to survive. Large expanses of undisturbed habitat must be maintained in order to conserve sage-grouse populations. The Little Sandy Landscape also serves an important historical role for sage-grouse in that it is where Robert Patterson conducted his seminal research; which resulted in his 1952 book "The Sage Grouse in Wyoming". The area also provides significant habitat for sagebrush obligate species such as Sage Sparrow, Brewer's Sparrow and Sage Thrasher. Other Species of Concern, as defined by the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database's 2003 Wyoming Plant and Animal Species of Concern include: Loggerhead Shrike, Burrowing Owl, Short-eared Owl, Ferruginous Hawk and Bald Eagle.

Ornithological Summary

The Little Sandy Landscape is a largely intact sagebrush-steppe ecosystem that provides all the seasonal habitats (lekking, nesting, brood-rearing, winter) to support a sustainable and sizeable population of Greater Sage-Grouse year-round. At least two 100+ cock leks are known to exist in the area along with 12 other known active leks. Sage-grouse require intact landscapes to survive. Large expanses of undisturbed habitat must be maintained in order to conserve sage-grouse populations. The Little Sandy Landscape also serves an important historical role for sage-grouse in that it is where Robert Patterson conducted his seminal research; which resulted in his 1952 book ?The Sage Grouse in Wyoming?. The area also provides significant habitat for sagebrush obligate species such as Sage Sparrow, Brewer?s Sparrow and Sage Thrasher. Other Species of Concern, as defined by the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database?s 2003 Wyoming Plant and Animal Species of Concern include: Loggerhead Shrike, Burrowing Owl, Short-eared Owl, Ferruginous Hawk and Bald Eagle.

Conservation Issues

The Little Sandy Landscape is not only an IBA but also a Conservation Action Site within Audubon's Sagebrush Initiative. The biggest threat to the areas bird populations and habitat is mineral development. The potential development of the area for gas and oil production continues to be greatly explored. Currently, levels of impact are minimal, but mineral leases have been sold in the area and if the fields are developed, significant impacts, via fragmentation of intact habitat, are expected that could threaten the sustainability of sage-grouse populations. Designation of the area as an IBA could heighten awareness of the area's biological and historical significance to sage-grouse possibly resulting in better management practices being applied. Fragmentation due to incompatible recreation such as uncontrolled off-road vehicle use is also a potential threat to the area.

Ownership

Federal, and State (some private although not included in IBA)

Habitat

The major habitat type is sagebrush steppe. The subspecies of sagebrush varies with elevation and precipitation. Both perennial and ephemeral drainages bisect the area and willow communities are present on the perennial streams. Higher elevations support aspen communities and some conifer patches are present on the north slopes of Prospect Mountains, a foothill range of the Wind River Mountains.

Land Use

Livestock grazing and public recreation (hunting, pioneer trail interpretation, dispersed camping) are the primary uses of the land. The potential for oil and gas development continues to be explored; however, at this time, the landscape remains largely intact.