The Upper Green River Conservation Exchange has constructed a habitat quantification tool to describe the habitat needs of the Greater sage-grouse. Tools for mule deer habitat and hydrologic services are also in development. (These tools can be scaled statewide in the future, as appropriate, for the Wyoming Conservation Exchange). The UGRCE protocols and infrastructure can also be extended to other species’ habitat and ecosystem services in the future, once the appropriate quantification tools have been developed.
The Exchange currently covers the existing estimated occupied range (EOR) of sage-grouse in the Upper Green River Basin within the following sub-basins: Upper Green (HUC 14040101), New Fork (HUC 14040102), Upper Green-Slate (14040103), and Big Sandy (HUC 14040104). This includes the sub-watersheds above the towns of Green River and Rock Springs. This region is entirely within USFWS sage-grouse management zone II (Stiver et al. 2010) and encompasses the 150-mile Red Desert to Hoback mule deer migration corridor recently documented and mapped by UW scientists. The Upper Green River Basin is a headwaters for the Colorado River System and produces about 1.2 million acre-feet of surface water per year. Surface water flows are highly affected by annual climatic variability; water supplies in “wet” years can be 3-5 times higher than dry years (ECONorthwest 2006), and changes in reservoir and irrigation management can affect availability and timing of flows. The potential for enhancing or maintaining already existing high-quality ecosystem service provision in the Upper Green River Basin for sage-grouse habitat, mule deer habitat, and hydrologic services is significant.