Elk Mountain Sage Grouse Habitat Conserved

RAWLINS, WY / December 21, 2012 – The Nature Conservancy has protected an additional 960 acres of the Johnson Ranch in Carbon County. The new conservation easement connects to a 6,120-acre easement secured with the Conservancy in 2010.

A male Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in USA.

Male Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in USA. Source: Wikipedia

Located near Wyoming’s iconic Elk Mountain, the ranch hosts important sage-grouse habitat and is a long-time agricultural operation. The easements protect against subdivision and industrial wind development, while maintaining a ranching way of life that has endured for three generations.

Because of its importance to sage-grouse, the project received funding from the Sage Grouse Initiative, a Natural Resource Conservation Service program to conserve sage-grouse habitat on the West’s ranchlands. Greater sage-grouse are active on the Johnson Ranch, with three leks located nearby.

“This is a real win-win for conservation and ranching,” says Brent Lathrop, Southeast Wyoming program director for The Nature Conservancy. “With sage-grouse having such high-visibility in the West right now, this project really showcases how we can all come together to improve conditions for sage-grouse while also keeping family ranches in business.”

A fifth-generation Wyoming rancher, Mr. John Johnson did not want to see their property subdivided or commercially developed: “Conservation Easements help preserve critically important tracks of land from fragmentation; an important component in keeping the sage grouse habitat sound. Furthermore, they are good tools in helping keep ranches intact and viable for future generations. Working with The Nature Conservancy and other Land Trusts I believe we can help keep the best stewards on the land, preserve Wyoming’s crucial sagebrush steppe and ensure that one of the most iconic birds of the Rocky Mountain region thrive and stay off the endangered species list.”

Several important funders helped this project come to fruition including Natural Resources Conservation Service, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, The Conservation Fund through the Wyoming Sage Grouse Conservation Campaign, private philanthropists and the landowners.

Source: The Nature Conservancy (press release)