There are no “keep out” signs posted for livestock and elk and other wildlife, but they’re getting the message anyway. And in the end, it will be better for them.
A three-year project, funded in part by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, wrapped up in 2022 to improve riparian habitat in central Wyoming. Surrounded by sagebrush, grasslands and rocky timber-covered outcroppings, Sanchez Creek is a perennial, spring-fed stream and tributary to the South Fork of the Powder River in the Southern Bighorn Mountains about 70 miles west of Casper.
Wildlife and livestock alike excessively browsed the area, triggering a loss in abundance, vigor and diversity of deciduous woody species, soil erosion and conifer encroachment into the floodplain. The area is elk crucial winter range, also used by sage-grouse in the summer for brood rearing.
To restore habitat along the creek, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WYGFD) built 14,225-feet of steel jack fencing from 2020-2022. It consists of three exclosures, with water gaps between each of them.
Crews planted more than 1,100 native trees and shrubs to help riparian recovery. They also removed limber pine and juniper that pushed their way into the area. Workers lopped and scattered the trees across 838 acres of Bureau of Land Management and private land enrolled in WYGFD’s Access Yes program that supplies hunting access.
(Photo source: Wyoming Game and Fish Department)