Utah Family Land Donation Establishes Bear River Watershed Conservation Area

This conservation area will help maintain and protect species and habitat within the entire Bear River Watershed.

June 28, 2016 (Brigham City, Utah) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service accepted a 30-acre conservation easement donation west of Brigham City, Utah, from the Ferry Ranch and Farm family. Their contribution formally establishes the Bear River Watershed Conservation Area as the 565th national wildlife refuge.

The Ferry family – John, Ben and Joel – are long-time landowners who are passionate about conserving the land, wildlife, and resources for future generations. They are the first landowners to establish a conservation easement in this area.

“Our philosophy is we are in a unique mix of agriculture and wildlife,” said John Ferry. “We were looking at a synergistic, collaborative approach to ensure nothing in this oasis in the desert will change. There will be no threat of development, and the wetland habitat will be preserved. You have to strike a balance. Farming, ranching and conservation can all get along.”

“It is through partnerships with conservation-minded private landowners, like the Ferry family, that together, we will find our greatest success in conserving these important landscapes for both people and wildlife,” said Regional Director Noreen Walsh. “The Ferry family are private landowners who are models for conservation. Through this easement donation, they join the Service in showing that once again, working landscapes and conservation are not mutually exclusive endeavors.”

In 2013, the Service approved the Bear River Watershed Conservation Area project aimed at working with private landowners to establish voluntary conservation easements. This allows landowners to retain their property rights and continue traditional activities on the easement such as livestock grazing and haying. This significant watershed encompasses more than 4.5 million acres, of which 920,000 acres are prioritized for easements, in the states of Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho.

The Conservation Area’s diverse landscapes support more than 200 species of birds, particularly migratory birds within the Central and Pacific Flyways. It also provides habitat and important migratory linkages for many mammals, such as elk and pronghorn, and its rivers and lakes support a number of native fish species, such as Bonneville cutthroat trout.

Learn more about the Bear River Watershed Conservation Area here