Throughout Utah, various natural and man-made factors have significantly altered the distribution and conditions of sagebrush communities. These communities are now characterized by dense stands of old, decadent shrubs and significant amounts of bare ground, and they no longer adequately support native wildlife species. Changes to shrubsteppe habitats have also influenced local economies by reducing livestock forage quality and availability. Due to these environmental and economic issues, shrubsteppe (i.e., rangeland) management in the west is changing rapidly. Land managers, both private and public, are interested in treating shrubsteppe habitats in order to improve forage production, water quality, and wildlife abundance on pubic and private lands. The Rich County Coordinated Resource Management Partnership was initiated as a voluntary effort by Rich County to join federal and state agencies, private landowners, and non-governmental orgainizations in supporting sustainable agriculture, improving wildlife habitat and maintaining healthy shrubsteppe and riparian areas.
The Duck Creek area is a 23,591-acre allotment of federal, state and private lands in northeastern Utah. Historically, this area had tremendous watershed and wildlife values (including Sage Grouse, Pygmy Rabbits, wintering Mule Deer, and other sagebrush obligate species). The Rich County partnership has embarked on a monumental project to develop an efficient and effective adaptive management and monitoring program for shrubsteppe animals and habitats in Utah. This partnership will be restoring shrubsteppe habitat on the Duck Creek allotment, assessing species-habitat relationships, and measuring species and habitat responses at various scales. This is one of the first initiatives in which state and federal agencies are actively involved in private lands conservation.