Charitable Giving

Boosting an ecosystem: desert sagebrush

Susan Simpson

Wyoming employees, working in partnership with the state Game and Fish Department, planted 1,500 sagebrush seedlings to support greater sage-grouse and other wildlife.

Todd Skalberg, Supervisor of Operations, was among about 20 employees from Wamsutter and Green River to volunteer on a very windy day in the Chain Lakes Wildlife Habitat Management Area.

Employees dug 1,500 holes, planted and watered the seedlings, and then protected them with mesh to discourage browsing by animals while they grow. The project aims to reclaim land that had been cleared for a well pad no longer needed.

Linda Cope, habitat protection biologist for the Game and Fish Department, thanked Williams employees.

“It was a lot of work in some adverse weather conditions to get the seedlings in the ground,” she said. “Williams’ enthusiasm and hard work made the day a huge success.”

 The seedlings were grown at the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton. With care, they are suited to survive the hard, dry landscape prone to extreme weather conditions.

“The end goal is to re-establish the natural sagebrush,” said Skalberg. “Some might consider it a weed, but sagebrush is a critical part of the ecosystem here.”

Sage-grouse need large expanses of healthy sagebrush, a critical food source, to survive. Sagebrush also provides food and habitat for many other species such as the pronghorn antelope.

Skalberg said game and fish employees were impressed with the Williams turnout.

“I think any time we can partner with an agency, that’s a good thing,” he said. “It shows we support more than oil and gas. We love the outdoors and this land and we want to give back.”