Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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Red Desert-to-Hoback Outreach


April 2015 - October 2018


Researchers at the Wyoming Migration Initiative (WMI) recently documented the longest mule deer migration ever recorded (and 2nd longest land migration in North America) where deer travel a one-way distance of 150 miles from Wyoming's Red Desert to the headwaters of the Hoback river. We refer to this as the Red Desert to Hoback (or RDH) migration. Migrations like this are unique to Wyoming’s undeveloped open spaces and are an important part of our cultural, hunting, and conservation heritage. However, given increasing levels of energy development and recreation on public lands, sprawling housing development on private lands, and increasing traffic volumes on our roadways, the persistence of this migration route (and others) is uncertain. Since April 2014, we have been actively engaged in telling the RDH migration story to the public within Wyoming, in an effort to broaden awareness and facilitate efforts to conserve the route. Our outreach efforts to date have included: a report geared towards the public, a short film, a traveling photo exhibit, numerous presentations, and extensive interviews with radio and news media. Most of this information is available at

Although we have successfully met our original outreach objectives for this project, we see value in extending our efforts to bring the RDH story to a broader, and in some cases, more targeted, audience. In particular, because the BLM will be taking comments on the revision of its Rock Springs Resource Management Plan (RMP) in early 2016, there is value in continuing to educate the public and policy makers on the biological value of intact migrations and the complexities of conserving such migration routes in areas outside of national parks. Although this work highlights the importance of Wyoming's Red Desert landscape and the Big Sandy Foothills (both within the Rock Springs Field Office), the challenge of conserving long-distance migration is emblematic of public lands conservation and management across the West.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 142

Post Docs: 53

University Staff: 240

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 701

Scientific Publications: 1936

Presentations: 4260



Funding Agencies

  • The Pew Charitable Trusts


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey