On October 17, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed an agreement to form a partnership to support the voluntary conservation of private working lands and migratory big-game populations in Wyoming. As part of this initiative, the Department of Agriculture will provide investments in key conservation programs for fiscal year 2023, which includes funding to support increased staffing capacity and the deployment of streamlined program application processes for agricultural producers and landowners.
Each year, millions of tourists flock to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks to watch elk, bison, moose, wolves, and grizzly bears. When summer ends, however, those same animals migrate away from public lands and onto surrounding private ranchlands in Northwest Wyoming where they spend the winter grazing on farm fields and pastures. The agreement between USDA and the State of Wyoming recognizes the critical role that working lands play in sustaining wildlife and presents a suite of solutions, including funding for conservation easements, fencing improvements, and long-term habitat leases that compensate for a portion of the producer’s costs in supplying forage under a grazing plan compatible with wildlife. Western Landowner Alliance Executive Director Lesli Allison was a leading proponent of the initiative, which was championed by a broad coalition of ranching, environment, and sportsmen’s organizations.