Monitoring & Adaptive Management

Songbird Point Counts
The objective is to measure songbird diversity at HLR. Three years of sampling (n=90 sampling points) has occurred to date and data have been used to create checklists for the HLR. This will be an ongoing aspect of biological monitoring at HLR.

Wildlife Diseases
Cattle, mule deer and elk share the range on The High Lonesome Ranch, just like on many other ranches in the American west. Cattle and elk also share a number of diseases (also some human diseases). We recognized the unique opportunity to cooperate with our hunting guests and their guides at the HLR to collect blood from harvested game and look for cattle diseases in the wildlife. The purpose of this project is to learn what we can about how game animals’ disease status might affect cattle and how cattle influence wildlife. This program began in 2010 with blood collected from harvested mule deer and elk and will continue for 5-6 years until sample size is sufficient for conclusions. We are actively seeking collaboration with veterinary college researchers to continue and expand this work.

Dr. Richard Kennedy, DVM, is Principal Investigator on the Wildlife Disease Monitoring Program. In the last 25 years he has worked in mixed animal and large animal practice with special interest in wildlife. He has also participated in epidemiological research both as field veterinarian and as database manager. Currently he is an Associate Editor for the Canadian Veterinary Journal.

In summer 2013 HLR, through HLI, initiated an annual program to monitor bats over streams. 2-3 nights of mist net sampling, 2 times per year occur. Data on species and gender if possible are recorded and sent to Colorado Parks and Wildlife for cataloguing. One of the sample sessions occurs during the Trinity University Field School and is incorporated into their learning experience. Dr. Ed Arnett, Energy Program Director for Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, leads the bat-monitoring program for HLI.

Sage Grouse Studies/Energy
When you think about energy development, sage grouse habitat may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but the threatened status of this fascinating bird is one of the biggest tools we have to direct energy development. The High Lonesome Ranch is the first private entity in the state of Colorado, and one of the few in the nation, to submit a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances with regional and national government agencies. This tool will help us define energy exploration throughout HLR lands and beyond.

With the number of greater sage grouse continuing to decline, HLR partnered with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the North American Grouse Partnership to protect the population that inhabits the ranch. The CCAA will allow the HLR to changed practices and land use to not impact but benefit sage grouse or its habitat and provide operational certainty for ranch activities without fear of any adverse consequences if the sage grouse are listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Energy development and production along with grazing and other land use practices will be able to continue on the ranch if a listing occurs. Success on the ranch will help this agency create guidelines for other landowners as well as public lands with the goal of keeping the sage grouse from becoming an endangered species.