Welcome to my blog! As you will learn, I am an advocate for horses and for wildlife. I am an advocate for the shrub-steppe ecosystem. And, I am an advocate for a continued way of living that is being lost to encroaching development - farming and ranching. Follow me while I study grazing impacts to sage-grouse habitat on the Wild Horse Wind Facility and discuss wild horse issues!
Well. It's been a while. That always seems to be the case.
I've completed my two years of graduate courses - the required and the fun. However. I have yet to complete any field work for my looming thesis project. Recently, I decided to throw another twist into the study. In the end, this added a level of complexity and brought my study question into a tighter focus. This past spring, due to a 2am brain power surge while capturing sage-grouse on the Yakima Training Center, I decided to use YTC nest vegetation data to not only assess habitat on the Wild Horse Wind Farm (grazed lands), but to include the PSE's WDFW neighbors, the Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area (non-grazed). With this, I am using known local nesting vegetation data to determine similar habitats in the WWHF and Whiskey Dick WA. This will provide both a habitat assessment of the lands, but also provide a comparison of grazed to non-grazed and how grazing influences heights of grasses and number of forbs for nesting sage hens.
Needless to say, I know exactly what I'm going to do and how I am going to do it. The problem? It is already nearing the end of July and the forbs are turning to crisp little fire hazards. I also now work seasonally on the YTC under Stell Environmental as a wildlife technician. This is a 40 hour a week job. Combined with family life, my time is consumed, leaving little extra for graduate research. Since I only recently got data from past years (non yet from this years work), I've decided to wait until next spring to start my work. Late April and May will be the best times to assess nesting habitat, as this is when sage-grouse are nesting.