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Beyond Boundaries:
Ranchers and Scientists Exploring Solutions for the Future

In early August, the Western Landowners Alliance helped convene a three-day symposium of landowners, managers and scientists in the Cody, Wyoming area  to consider --  from the landowner perspective -- the costs and opportunities associated with sustaining both key Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) wildlife (particularly migratory ungulates) and the working lands they depend upon. The findings and recommendations from the symposium will help support landowners, scientists and policy makers in developing strategies to keep working lands in the GYE intact, economically viable and available to meet the needs of both people and wildlife. 

Learn more about the exciting new research on ungulate migrations and working lands in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem that inspired this symposium here.

Special thanks to University of California, Berkeley researcher, Arthur Middleton, National Geographic photographer/filmmaker Joe Riis, the Pitchfork, Hoodoo, J Bar 9, TE, Ishawooa Mesa, and Sage Creek Ranches, National Geographic Society, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, The Nature Conservancy-Wyoming and the George B. Storer Foundation for making this event possible. 
Greater Yellowstone Migration Project Promo
Watch a preview of the upcoming film on Greater Yellowstone Migrations.
Photos LtoR: Site visit, Hoodoo Ranch with the Whit fire in the background; Wyoming State Treasurer and Rancher Mark Gordon with Peter Warren, board member of the Malpai Borderlands Group and senior land protection specialist with The Nature Conservancy; Rancher Lenox Baker with US Department of Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals; Lesli Allison, Executive Director, Western Landowners Alliance with Robert Bonnie, USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment. 

Jeff Laszlo Takes WLA Leadership Role

Jeff is a fourth-generation owner of the Granger Ranches in Montana’s Madison Valley. He lives in Montana full-time, where he manages the 13,000-acre traditional cattle ranch. Jeff’s efforts to restore a 6,000-acre wetland complex on the property earned him the Environmental Law Institute’s National Wetlands Award for Landowner Steward in 2010. WLA expresses deep appreciation to founding board chair, Paul Vahldiek, who has provided dedicated leadership since WLA's inception and continues to provide insight as an active board member. 

A crowd gathered in early September for the release of trumpeter swans on Jeff Laszlo's Granger Ranches. The proceeds from the event were donated to support the Madison Valley Hospital and Clinic. 

Western Governors’ Association Releases Endangered Species Act Policy Resolution 2016-08

Over the past nine months, WLA has participated extensively in an initiative by the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) to assess wildlife conservation efforts and, in particular, the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Throughout the process, WLA provided the insights, experiences and perspectives of our members and extended network through forums, webinars and written commentary.

A full report from the WGA on the initiative is available here. In June, Wyoming Governor Mead delivered the results of this effort: Policy Resolution 2016-08

WLA's Recommendations For Native Species Conservation 

  • Recognize and support -- don't penalize -- landowners for stewardship that helps wildlife
  • Improve and provide easier access to assurances for voluntary, proactive conservation and recovery efforts
  • Shift focus where possible from single species management to multi-species/habitat-based conservation
  • Fund agencies to better support voluntary conservation
  • Increase cooperation between local, state and federal agencies

WLA Members Gather at Trinchera Blanca Ranch

WLA held a daylong Stewardship and Policy Tour in July at the Trinchera Blanca Ranch, a ranch that truly embodies our motto of “Stewardship with Vision.”  Twenty WLA members attended, toured and ate a field lunch at this 175,000-acre ranch on the edge of the San Luis Valley near Fort Garland, Colorado. Environmental manager and WLA board member Craig Taggart shared ranch stewardship practices that promote wildlife, healthy forests, the bottom line, and the local community. Participants exchanged information on forest health management, conservation easements, stream and riparian restoration, and rangeland management. Louis Bacon, owner of the Trinchera Blanca Ranch, authorized a conservation easement donation of approximately 167,000 acres on the Trinchera Blanca Ranch in Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which marks the largest such donation received by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A big thanks to Trinchera Blanca Ranch for hosting this highly informative and enjoyable event!

Deseret Ranch Hosts Gathering

Sheep, trout, beavers, grouse--you name it!  The 240,000-acre Deseret Ranch is widely considered one of the most well-managed ranches in the West. It is a stunning example of the “working lands” model, with 5,000 – 8,000 cattle and 3,000 sheep grazed by a precise rotational plan on habitat that also supports 2,500 elk, 3,000 deer, 700 pronghorn and 100 moose, as well as a successful hunting business. Valley lowlands to mountain uplands all bear the stamp of thoughtful management, from prairie-like stands of native grasses to healthy aspen groves. Species of note also thrive here, including sage grouse, beaver, songbirds, trout and prairie dogs. The ranch hosted the WLA summer board meeting and provided tours of their stewardship projects. WLA's wildlife and range specialist, Rick Danvir, managed the Deseret for over two decades, as well as coordinated a place-based collaborative in the region. We’re grateful to Rick and the staff at Deseret for sharing this showcase ranch with us in such an unforgettable way!

In Production: "Stewardship with Vision, Episode 4" 

Filming is presently underway at the Ute Creek Cattle Company in New Mexico for the next episode of WLA's "Stewardship with Vision" film series. The series is being created through a collaborative partnership between WLA and Montana State University's graduate program in Science and Natural History Filmmaking. MSU graduate student and filmmaker Billy Collins is out in the shortgrass prairie with rancher Tuda Libby Crews--shown here on a corral designed by Temple Grandin for low-stress livestock handling. See below for episodes 1-3. 

Sand County Foundation's “Innovations on the Land” Conference Showcases Voluntary Collaboration

WLA staff participated in the Sand County Foundation “Innovations on the Land” conference in Monterey, California in early August. We were excited to see rancher Lynn Sherrod, formerly of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust and the Land Trust Alliance, take the reins as Chair of the Foundation.  A highlight of the conference was the keynote talk by Peter Byck, a film director who is also a senior sustainability scientist at Arizona State University, and whose works include the acclaimed Carbon Cowboys. Peter premiered his most recent work, "100,000 Beating Hearts", a film about regenerative agriculture, to widespread appreciation.
Photo LtoR: Lynne Sherrod, Chair, Sand County Foundation and Nita Vail, Executive Director, California Rangeland Trust 

Sagebrush Ecosystem Vision and Communications Forum

WLA representatives Rick Danvir and Kelly Cash brought landowner perspectives to the “Sagebrush Vision and Communications Strategy Forum” convened in Salt Lake City, Utah. Participants gathered from throughout the West from a comprehensive cross section of public agencies and private nonprofits. Emerging goals included “fostering an understanding and connection to the natural and human communities of the Sagebrush ecosystem, increasing connection among diverse stakeholders to find common ground, increasing investment in and political support for Sagebrush conservation, educating future generations of Sagebrush stewards, and networking communicators so that they can share assets and lessons learned.” As a first step, the group agreed to support the BLM’s #350 campaign, highlighting the over 350 species that depend upon the Sagebrush ecosystem. Special shout-out to Audubon for the heavy lifting on the logistics front. 

Photo, LtoR: Anna Harris, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Jennifer Strickland, Digital Communications, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Heather Johnson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Partners for Fish and Wildlife

In the Media

A recent High Country News article on the need for tax modernization featured quotes by WLA's Executive Director Lesli Allison. The story highlighted the need to modernize property tax structures in some states to slow land fragmentation, help keep land in family ownership and to better support landowner investments in restoration and conservation-based management. 

WLA worked with researchers at Colorado State University and Lake Forest College to produce a study on ways property tax structures could be improved to help keep land intact and better support conservation-based stewardship. 
Uplifting stories of the summer include an NPR story on the release of hundreds of endangered toads onto Fred Lindsey's private ranch, and a Wyoming Public Media story about rancher Lenox Baker’s work to reintroduce the black-footed ferret. Both highlight the power of collaboration combined with legal assurances that allow ranchers to manage populations of endangered species free from fear that, in the words of Lindsey, "during normal operations, if we were to run over a toad or step on a toad, we wouldn't go to federal prison."
Become a WLA Member

Why join WLA?

  • Because landowners need a voice in shaping the policies that impact our lands and stewardship—things like energy, water, wildlife and economics.
  • To participate in a network of peers around the West sharing working lands science, knowledge and experience.
  • To endow future generations with productive working lands, wildlife and natural resources.
Stewardship with Vision: Jeff Laszlo, Granger Ranches
Stewardship with Vision: The Malpai Borderlands Group
Stewardship with Vision: Episode 3
Betty Shahan and the Chama Peak Land Alliance

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Western Landowners Alliance · PO Box 6278 · Santa Fe, NM 87502 · USA

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