Wyoming Partnership Celebrates More Than A New Year

The North Cottonwood Ranch is an important agricultural property now protected in perpetuity.

The Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust (WSGLT) entered 2018 with a reason to celebrate. Actually, it has more than a quarter of a million reasons to celebrate! With its most recent acquisition, the WSGLT now holds a whopping 252,213 acres of conservation easements across the state.

In mid-December, WSGLT broke the quarter-million mark by acquiring the 15,231-acre North Cottonwood Ranch conservation easement from The Conservation Fund. An historical ag-operation, this Sublette County ranch is not just a unique and important agricultural property, it’s also an important piece of the local ecology that is now conserved as a direct result of collaboration.

“Sublette County has been a shining example of the coexistence of ranching, energy development, and conservation,” Bo Alley, WSGLT Executive Director said.  “The Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust now holds nearly 67,000 acres of conservation easements on 22 ranches in the county. This conservation project, like many in the county, is the product of a collaborative effort with our partners at The Conservation Fund.”

In addition to its vast agricultural benefits, the ranch includes nearly 20 miles of streams, 16 reservoirs, and three different types of wetlands. It also provides excellent year-round habitat and unencumbered migration corridors for Wyoming wildlife. The eastern part of the ranch is located within the Daniel Core Sage Grouse Area.

"Over the last decade, the Fund has been honored to work cooperatively with private landowners, public agencies, and non-profit partners—like WSGLT—to conserve nearly 118,000 acres in Sublette County,” said Dan Schlager, Wyoming State Director with The Conservation Fund. “These efforts in the Upper Green River Valley and along the Hoback Rim conserve working agricultural ranches that are part of Wyoming’s world-renowned migration routes, secure miles of river frontage, and protect core sage grouse habitat and crucial winter range for moose, elk, mule deer and pronghorn—creating benefits for people, communities and wildlife.”

The Conservation Fund works to achieve environmental and economic outcomes to benefit the natural world and the well being of Americans from every walk of life.  Learn more about their work in Wyoming here.

“This incredible partnership in Wyoming deserves congratulations for securing the future of one of the most ecologically important ranches in the Intermountain West! It’s great to see several years of hard work come to fruition in this tremendous collaborative conservation achievement that benefits agriculture, wildlife and people,” said Dave Smith, Coordinator of the IWJV.

Smith notes that several IWJV Management Board members and staff served on the ranking panel for the Mountain West Migratory Bird Habitat Conservation Fund program of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) when it considered the North Cottonwood Ranch Conservation Easement project. Based on the high score of the project in contributing to habitat conservation goals and objectives, it was selected for NFWF funding.

Additional funding for the conservation easement acquisition was provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the State of Wyoming through the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust, the Knobloch Family Foundation, and a stewardship donation from the seller.

The North Cottonwood Ranch conservation easement will keep a unique and important agricultural property of the Intermountain West unbroken in perpetuity.  Conservation easements are the gifts that keep giving, long after the celebrations are over.