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Wyoming Riparian Association

A riparian area is considered the pulse and heart beat of a watershed and it's communities. Each community is only as strong and healthy as its riparian systems. If one part is threatened, the vitality of the entire watershed, and all living things within it, is diminished.

Working together, the Wyoming Riparian Association, in a spirit of cooperative effort, promotes proper multiple use management of riparian areas and wetlands throughout Wyoming's watersheds. Through education, communication, research and development support, technical assistance and review, the Wyoming Riparian Association uses working relationships to achieve these goals.

The Wyoming Riparian Association was created to unite our state and federal natural resource management agencies, our agriculture and livestock producer groups, environmental groups, and professional natural resource organizations. The independent nature of the diverse groups represented in the WRA, has brought strength, rather than division to the organization. Work-oriented, and project driven, members work in a consensus building atmosphere.

This brochure illustrates several projects initiated by the Wyoming Riparian Association. The tremendous success of these demonstration projects reflects the commitment from the WRA and the local communities, as they faced various natural resource challenges within Wyoming's watersheds.

By working together, Wyoming's riparian areas, the heart beat of her communities, WILL be healthy, tomorrow, because of their proper use, today.

The most recent project areas include:

The Washakie Outdoor Classroom which was initiated by the Washakie County Conservation District. This wetland area will provide students, teachers, organizations and others an outstanding educational opportunity to learn more about our environment, while providing aesthetic features and recreation. It offers a first hand opportunity to understand aquatic habitat functions. This project was also assisted by the Chief Washakie FFA Chapter, which provided the labor portion of the project, while the Nature Conservancy and local school districts developed the curriculum.

The Oil Creek Watershed in Weston County was a project targeting one mile of the watershed as a demonstration project. The project area supports a large wildlife population and species variety including beaver, whitetail deer, mule deer, wild turkey and other non-game animals. A number of years ago the beaver were trapped out of this region. The beaver dams washed out creating muddy flats, which in turn became infested with Canada thistle. Chemical control of the noxious weeds proved unsuccessful, as it also destroyed much of the project area's woody vegetation. This demonstration area was established developed with an emphasis on the following management practices:

The Star Lab Riparian Project is located in the Big Horn Basin. It was established to provide a life long learning environment, fostering an attitude of harmony of agriculture and civilization in a natural setting in Big Horn County. The goals of the project were to restore the Shell Creek bank with tree, grass and shrub plantings. Streambank stabilization, decreased siltation, and improve wildlife and fishery habitat were also targeted. These goals are currently being met through the development of a bentonite-lined pond; pipe irrigation, establishment of permanent water monitoring sites, vegetation transplants, brush control, and distribution of bird houses and feeders.

The South Fork Hay Creek Demonstration Area located five miles east of Aladdin. The project area encompasses approximately 150 acres along a four mile stretch of Hay Creek. The purpose of this project was to establish a managed riparian zone while promoting diversity and increasing wildlife numbers. Other project goals were to increase water flow and storage to reestablish the fishery In June 1995, it was discovered that the area held extensive archaeological interest, and the landowner made the decision to halt further development. The landowner has completed a 246 rod fence, some instream structures outside of the culturally sensitive area, and an information sign will designate the project area with continued monitoring as a permanent project task.

Sportsman's Lake in Converse County became a very interesting project. It is located west of Douglas, Wyoming, and held multiple use possibilities for the lake. This project focused on the wildlife habitat potential of the area. Tree plantings, waterfowl nesting structures, and improved fisheries were the original goals of the project. Although the landowner kept his commitment to provide food plots, divert fresh water to lower the lake's temperature, and increase water levels, only portions of the project were able to be completed. The overall instability of the lake, and possible expense to repair the overflow pipes made parts of this project no longer feasible. It will still provide excellent water monitoring possibilities, photo points have been established, and the waterfowl nesting sights have been completed. This has been accomplished while continuing to provide irrigation and livestock water for the landowner. The rapport and cooperation of the groups involved in this project, while making difficult decisions made this an excellent demonstration.

The George Dew/State land Wetlands project is located on Muddy Creek north of Baggs, Wyoming. It is part of the Muddy Creek CRM national demonstration project for 'Seeking Common GroundóLivestock and Wildlife on western range lands.' The wetlands component of this project consisted of protecting and enhancing 1100 acres of existing wetlands, and creating 125 acres of new wetlands. This project focused on:

Improved water quality by silt and sedimentation filtering.

Slow release of stored ground water to lower spring run-off and improve stream base flows.

Creation of additional wildlife habitat.

Establishment of brood rearing waterfowl habitat.

Ponds for livestock and wildlife use during drought.

Establishment of 1100 acres of late fall and winter livestock grazing vs. purchasing hay for livestock consumption.

In summary, the focus of the Wyoming Riparian Association has been very goal oriented. At no time, has this group allowed their diversity, or positions to supersede their commitment to getting the projects on the ground. Each meeting includes a tour. The Association's bylaws dictate the board will utilize a consensus building process, ideally the Coordinated Resource Management process, to assist them in reaching decisions. By example, this association has established that a small, hard working group of people can set aside their collective differences. They have further demonstrated that once this is accomplished, the group can focus on the projects, utilizing their various areas of experience and expertise. The projects have proven hugely successful, providing excellent demonstrations of improved riparian areas. Meanwhile the Wyoming Riparian Association, itself, is now regarded as a standard for other organizations.

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