Three conservation easements placed on ranch lands near Elk Mountain
Total acreage under easement with ag land trust surpasses 100,000 acres
The Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust recently placed three new conservation easements in Carbon County. The properties, Vickers Complex, Basin Ranch, and McKee Ranch, span a total of 22,509 acres near scenic Elk Mountain. Featuring views of the Snowy Mountain Range in Medicine Bow National Forest, Elk Mountain, Kennaday Peak, Coad Mountain, and Pennock Mountain, these lands are now protected against future development.
"These ranches have been managed for agricultural production since the 1800s," says Pamela Dewell, WSGALT executive director. Since the late 1800s, the properties have been managed as cattle and sheep ranches that also produced hay and harvested timber. During the 1900s, the properties were managed as part of Palm Ranches. The current owner, Dr. Fred Eshelman, Iron Bar Holdings, now operates the properties as a cattle and hay operation. Eshelman also holds a conservation easement through the Nature Conservancy on the nearby Elk Mountain Ranch.
Additionally, the properties feature a great variety of habitat types, ranging from conifer/aspen forest to sagebrush steppe and riparian areas. Combined with the multiple streams and rivers located on the properties, the ranches are a natural choice for the abundance of wildlife found there. Located on or near migration corridors for elk, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope, these ranches are excellent candidates for conservation easements.
Dr. Eshelman says he values the multiple uses this land supports. "Ranch lands are vital to preserving open space and view sheds for future generations. Development that occurs throughout the west is not an option. Continued agricultural operations and conserving the ranch lands for wildlife are a primary goal and the location of both of these is key in the area." Further proving this, the 12,000 acre Basin Ranch participates in a cooperative Hunter Management Area with the Wyoming Game & Fish, and the 9,800 acre McKee Ranch borders the Wick Brothers Game Management Unit, managed by the Wyoming Game and Fish for critical winter range, along with participating in the Hunter Management Area program.
During the last weeks of December, four donated easements brought the total of land in conservation easements held by WSGALT to 106,284 acres. The other donated easement is in Uinta County.
WSGALT is dedicated to conserving Wyoming's working family farms and ranches and the wide open spaces, natural habitats, and western lifestyle they support. For more information, you can call 307-772-8751 or visit www.wsgalt.org.