Keeping working lands in agriculture isn’t easy. Developers snap up good ground for houses and more. But the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust (the trust) is working to slow the march of good land being taken and paved over. The group has a growing track record of creating conservation easements that will keep working lands in farmer and rancher hands for the foreseeable future.
The latest project the trust took on is a portion of the Woolery Ranch in Fremont County, Wyo. Using funding assistance from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Wyoming Wildlife and the Natural Resource Trust, the group was able to put together a conservation easement that covers 1,880 acres of deeded agricultural land and borders another conserved property, as well as public land.
Eric Schact, the trust’s conservation director, notes that this project provides the Woolery Ranch with the opportunity to expand its ag operation, and it conserves key wildlife habitat.
Ranch joins more land in trust in county
The ranch is south of Lander, Wyo., and the conservation easement ensures that its open space will remain unencumbered in perpetuity. The property is home to moose and sage grouse habitat, and is adjacent to mule deer and elk habitat.
The Woolery family has been in Fremont County for nearly 90 years, and uses the conserved property as a key part of its larger operation. While the land has been used for grazing sheep, the family grazes cattle on the property. The ranch’s history is evident in the sheepherders’ monuments visible on the hills and ridges overlooking Beaver Creek. The Mormon Pioneer and Oregon national historic trails are within 3 miles of the property.
In commenting on the closing, Clyde Woolery, president of the ranch, notes that this conservation easement is on a portion of the ranch’s summer range. “Money realized from the easement was used to purchase land adjoining our winter operation,” he says. “This helped balance our needs for our summer grazing.”
This marks the third ag property to be conserved by the trust in the county, with the total conserved acreage nearing 3,000 acres in Fremont County. NRCS has assisted in funding 32 projects in partnership with Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust and the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust. By working with these partners, Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust can conserve ag lands across the state and work with farmers and ranchers to keep those lands in production.
The Woolery ranch brings the total agricultural land conserved by the trust to 254,670 acres.
Source: Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust