SHERIDAN – Powder River Energy Corporation (PRECorp) partnered with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to help enhance a great blue heron nesting community (called “rookery”), on a reservoir in northwest Crook County, near New Haven.
The reservoir was created in the 1960’s on a Wyoming state land section leased by the FA Bush Ranch to provide as an irrigation source for the neighboring ranches. The reservoir, simply called Reservoir 37, was built at the confluence of the North Fork of the Little Missouri River and Cedar Creek. Before the dam was built, this location held a large stand of Plains Cottonwood trees. Once the dam was built, the stand of cottonwood trees was flooded. The resulting dam created a terrific place for a great blue heron rookery. The reservoir created a food source by providing fish habitat and the trees provided a place for great blue herons to build nests.
As the years went on, the flooded trees slowly began to die and fall down. Currently, there are fewer than 10 trees left standing in the lake, and these few trees have lost most of their branches. In the near future, there will be no more trees near the reservoir to provide nesting habitat for the great blue herons.
Habitat Extension Biologist, Todd Caltrider, inquired of PRECorp about the possibility of using old power poles to build artificial nesting structures for the heron rookery on Reservoir 37. PRECorp was interested in the project, and was able to not only donate the materials but they also went out to Reservoir 37 and installed the structures. PRECorp built two three-legged structures on the reservoir out of old power poles, crossbeams and assorted driftwood found around the reservoir.
The resulting structures will provide additional places for great blue herons to nest. Caltrider plans on planting cottonwoods and willows around the reservoir that will provide self sustaining nesting sites in the future when the trees mature.
“This project could not have been completed without the time, materials, and expertise that was provided by PRECorp and the cooperation with the FA Bush Ranch and the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments,” says Caltrider, “I greatly appreciate PRECorp’s efforts to get this project off the ground.”