West Box Elder - Utah CBCP

    West Box Elder

    Please note: the Box Elder Adaptive Resource Management (BARM) group is now part of the West Box Elder Coordinated Resource Management (WBECRM) group.


    • Next Meeting: January 21, 2020, beginning at 5 PM at the Park Valley School. 
    • Webcast locations available upon request. Contact Danielle Kunzler for more information at: westboxcrm@gmail.com

    To be placed on mailing list and or for specific meeting location and times please contact: Dave Dahlgren at dave.dahlgren@usu.edu

     Hot Topics 

    Research Field Notes April/May 2019, June 2019

    New Publication: Kohl MT, Messmer TA, Crabb BA, Guttery MR, Dahlgren DK, Larsen RT, et al. (2019) The effects of electric power lines on the breeding ecology of greater sage-grouse. PLoS ONE 14(1):e0209968. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0209968

    Conservation Plan

    West Box Elder Coordinated Resource Management Plan, January 2013


    • 2018 Accomplishment report West Box Elder section or entire LWG report
    • Small, J.R. and T.A. Messmer. 2018.  Greater Sage-grouse Responses to Pinyon-Juniper Removal: Mitigating Resistance in an Anthropogenic Altered Landscape. 2018 Annual Report
    • 2017 Accomplishment Report, West Box Elder Section or entire LWG report
    • Small, J.R. and T.A. Messmer. 2017.  Greater Sage-grouse Responses to Pinyon-Juniper Removal: Mitigating Resistance in an Anthropogenic Altered Landscape.  2017 Annual Report.
    • Cook, A.A., T.A. Messmer, and M.R. Guttery. 2017. Greater Sage-grouse Use of Mechanical Conifer Reduction Treatments in Northwest Utah.  Wildlife Society Bulletin 41:27-33  
    • Sandford, C.P., M.T. Kohl, T.A. Messmer, D.K. Dahlgren, A.Cook, and B.R. Wing.  2017. Greater Sage-grouse Resource Selection Drives Reproductive Fitness Under a Conifer Removal Strategy.  Rangeland Ecology & Management 70(1):59-67.  
    • 2016 Accomplishment Report, West Box Elder Section, entire LWG report
    • Small, Justin R. and Terry A. Messmer. 2016. Greater Sage-grouse responses to pinyon-juniper removal: mitigating resistance in an anthropogenic altered landscape. 2016 Annual Report.
    • Sandford, Charles P. 2016. Greater Sage-Grouse Vital Rate and Habitat Use Response to Landscape Scale Habitat Manipulations and Vegetation Micro-Sites in Northwestern Utah. M.S. Thesis, Utah State University, Logan.
    • 2015 Accomplishment Report, West Box Elder section
    • Charles Sandford. 2015 Annual Report. Effects of Pinyon Juniper Removal on Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) Habitat-use and Vital Ranges in Northwestern Utah.
    • Sandford, C., D. Dahlgren, and T. Messmer. 2015. Sage-grouse Nests in an Active Conifer Mastication Site. The Prairie Naturalist 47:115-116. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/David_Dahlgren/publications
    • Avery Cook, 2015. Greater Sage-grouse Seasonal Habitat Models, Response to Juniper Reduction and Effects of Capture Behavior on Vital Rates in Northwest Utah. M.S. Thesis, Utah State University, Logan.
    • Thesis defense presentation by Avery Cook, 2015. Greater Sage-grouse Seasonal Habitat Models, Response to Juniper Reduction and Effects of Capture Behavior on Vital Rates in Northwestern Utah.
    • Charles Sandford and Terry Messmer. 2014. Effects of Pinyon Juniper Removal on Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) Habitat-use and Vital Rates in Northwestern Utah. 2014 Annual Report.
    • Brian Wing, 2014. The Role of Vegetation Structure, Composition, and Nutrition in Greater Sage-Grouse Ecology in Northwestern Utah. Master's Thesis, Utah State University, Logan, UT.
    • 2014 Accomplishment Report, West Box Elder CRM section
    • 2013 Public Lands Foundation Award given to West Box Elder Coordinated Resource Management Group.
    • Graham, Stephanie E. 2013. Greater sage-grouse habitat selection and use patterns in response to vegetation management practices in northwestern Utah. M.S. Thesis, Utah State University, Logan.
    • Avery Cook, Brian Wing, and Terry Messmer. 2013 Annual Report.Demography, Vital Rates, Habitat-Use, and Seasonal Movements of Greater Sage-Grouse in the Raft River Subunit Management Area,West Box Elder County, Utah - Phase 2.WRI Project ID 2192.
    • 2012 West Box Elder CRM Sage-grouse Accomplishment Report
    • Eric Thacker, D.R. Gardner, T.A. Messmer, M.R. Guttery, and D.K. Dahlgren. 2012. Using Gas Chromatography to Determine Winter Diets of Greater Sage-grouse in Utah. Journal of Wildlife Management 76:588-592.
    • Stephanie Graham, Todd Black, and Terry Messmer. 2012 Annual Report.Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) habitat selection and use patterns in response to vegetation management practices inWestern Box Elder County, Utah.
    • Avery Cook, Brian Wing, Todd Black, and Terry A. Messmer. 2012 Annual Report. Demography, Vital Rates, Habitat-Use, and Seasonal Movements of Greater Sage-Grouse in the Ruby Pipeline HUC 8 Watershed: Phase 1. WRI Project ID: 2119
    • Planning priorities June 19, 2012 Presentation and Tables
    • Plan Inventory Analysis Update given April 17, 2012.
    • Noxious Weed Plan, February 2012 by Box Elder County Weed Department.
    • Key Principles of Grazing Management, February 2012 by UGIP Technical Committee.
    • 2011 Accomplishment Report, BARM section
    • Stephanie Graham. 2011. Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) habitat selection and use patterns in response to vegetation management practices in Western Box Elder County, Utah. Annual report of research.
    • 2011 Presentation to County Commission
    • Stephanie Graham. 2011. Mitigating threats to Greater sage-grouse through shrub-steppe habitat manipulations. Presentation given at the USU Wildland Resources Graduate Student Symposium.
    • 2010 Accomplishment Report; BARM section
    • Thesis by Ron Greer (2010) Ecology and Seasonal Habitat Use Patterns of Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse in Northern Utah. Utah State University.
    • Dissertation by Eric T. Thacker (2010) Greater Sage-grouse Seasonal Ecology and Responses to Habitat Manipulations in Northern Utah. Utah State University.
    • 2008 BARM Annual Report of USU Research Studies
    • 2008 BARM Accomplishment Report; BARM section
    • 2006-7 Accomplishment Report; BARM section
    • 2007 BARM Annual Report of USU Research Studies
    • Thesis by Jan S. Knerr (2007) Greater Sage-Grouse Ecology in Western Box Elder County, Utah. Utah State University.


    2015 Notes from the field: April 2015, May 2015, June 2015

    Flagship Projects

    Demography, Vital Rates, Habitat-use and Seasonal Movements of Greater Sage-Grouse in NW Utah

    This project seeks to answer questions on the demography, vital rates, habitat-use, and seasonal movements of sage-grouse in the Raft River subunit of the Box Elder Local Working Group area. The Raft River subunit roughly encompasses the area from Park Valley North to the Idaho border. The focus is on sage-grouse relationships to vegetation treatments (chemical, mechanical or fire-altered habitat), and investigation of diet components.Specifically, we will be determining forbs species that are important to pre-laying hens and hatched broods, and determining if those forbs are more prevalent in areas where sagebrush has been thinned. The ecological knowledge gained, especially knowledge specific to the population in question, will allow management actions to be applied effectively and efficiently to benefit both sage-grouse and forage quality and quantity.

    To answer questions about the ecology of sage-grouse in the Park Valley area, we will be trapping and installing radio collars on sage-grouse. We will follow these radio tagged birds over the following summer and winter to record year to year survival, breeding success, habitat use and seasonal movements.We will also be counting grouse pellets to compare areas that have undergone vegetation treatments in the past to areas that have unaltered sagebrush habitat to determine the effects on sage-grouse habitat use.

    This project will fill knowledge gaps outlined in the Box Elder Greater Sage-grouse Local Conservation Plan that have been identified as critical for implementing effective management strategies to increase populations of Sage-grouse in the management area. This study will also provide critical information on the effects of past habitat treatments on Sage-grouse to inform future planning decisions on the best practices for habitat improvement.


    photo of Justin SmallJustin Small is a graduate student at Utah State University working on completing a M.S. in Wildlife Biology. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology from Washington State University in May of 2013. Prior to returning to college, Justin managed several large scale projects in both the private and public sector. First, he worked for the Water Resource Department of the Turlock Irrigation District in Northern California as a compliance field technician and helped implement a state grant program called the Tail-Water Run-Off Initiative. He was personally involved in organizing and scheduling meetings with landowners, handling conflicts or disagreements over compliance issues, and overseeing the compliance construction progress. Next, he managed several large scale residential housing projects in both Wyoming and California. After graduation, Justin worked for the University of Idaho in conjunction with the Natural Resource Conservation Service traveling throughout the state of Idaho conducting vegetation trend monitoring and inventory on federal, state and private rangelands. Most recently, Justin worked for Northwest Management, Inc. as a forester/environmental consultant/wildland firefighter on private, tribal, state and federal lands. Justin is an avid outdoorsman that loves hunting, fishing, backpacking and exploring wild places with his wife and three children. He is interested in animal behavioral ecology and human- wildlife conflict mitigation. Justin is looking forward to working with private landowners of the Box Elder County SMGA. Justin can be reached at wildoutdoors@live.com

    The Sagebrush SEA

    The sagebrush landscape encompasses over 160 million acres of private and public land in western North America. It is home to over 350 species of wildlife and 100 million people.  It is  often called a working landscape because it provides some many important benefits and these benefits are tied to diverse land uses. Because of it vastness and connectivity, some refer to it as the sagebrush sea.

    Since European settlement, we now have less sagebrush sea. Some estimates suggest that we have lost over 50% of this sea to the human foot print.  We all know what the loss of the sagebrush sea has meant for the sage-grouse.  The Gunnison sage-grouse has been listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The greater sage-grouse avert this fate, because of coordinated range wide efforts that reduced sagebrush seas habitat loss and fragmentation. This unprecedented effort engaged private landowners with federal and state agencies, sportsmen and women’s conservation organizations, businesses, industry, and local communities to build, if you will, a fire wall consisting of habitat management and protection actions which in mitigation the conservation threats to the species and averted a listing.

    Not satisfied to rest on their laurels, and recognizing that the true path to conservation of the sage-grouse and the working landscape will require a focus on conserving the sagebrush sea itself. Rising like a Pheonix from the ashes of conflict, is the newly organized Sagebrush Ecosystem Alliance (SEA). The SEA engages all the above partners in a pilot project that seeks the conservation of communities and wildlife by identifying and implementing bold and innovative conservation actions on over 1.1 million acres of the sagebrush sea in northwestern Utah, northeastern Nevada and southern Idaho. The SEA is comprised of many stakeholders including local land owners, grazing permitees, local governments, interested publics, Utah State University experts, the Utah Community-Based Conservation Program, Utah State University Extension, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Stewardship Alliance of Northeast Elko County, Box Elder Coordinated Resource Management, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Utah Grazing Improvement Program, Sage Grouse Initiative, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Intermountain West Joint Venture.

     Photo of Calee LotI have the honor and privilege of being named the SEA Coordinator. I am no stranger to the issues affecting the sagebrush sea and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. I grew up on a small cattle ranch in Summit County, Utah, where I spent most of my time with my grandpa on the back of a horse moving cows, in the back-hoe doing construction, or on the 4-wheeler changing water. I graduated from Utah State with a major in Interdisciplinary studies, emphasizing on rangeland management, plant science, and animal science, and I am currently working on a master’s degree in Agricultural Extension and Education. I am excited to be placed in a position where I can blend my passion and vocation for sagebrush rangelands, conservation, and work with diverse stakeholders involved in West Box Elder Coordinated Resources Management (CRM) decision making process.

     One the most important skills I learned growing up was that of being a steward of the land. I believe one of the best ways to be an effective steward of the land is to work towards finding a balance. To find the balance, objectivity is essential. One resource is not more valuable than another. As SEA Coordinator, working under the guidance and direction of Dr. Eric Thacker, USU Rangeland Specialist, I hope to plan and facilitate sagebrush seas rangeland and habitat improvement projects, create lasting connections with stakeholders, improve collaborative efforts between stakeholders, and ultimately play a role in the preservation of the sagebrush ecosystem.
    I look forward to the working with all.  My contact information is Calee Lott, calee.lott@usu.edu