Another ranch in the Centennial Valley has established a conservation easement this year, ensuring that several thousand acres of open space will remain undeveloped into the future.
The ranch sits north of Wyoming Highway 130 and south of Interstate 80, with the Medicine Bow National Forest near its western boundary. The land owner requested that the name remain private.
A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement a landowner places on a deed that limits the amount and type of future development, thus protecting its conservation value and the current uses on the land, such as ranching. The property can still be bought and sold as usual.
The Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust established the easement in partnership with the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust and the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
Eric Schacht, interim executive director of the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust, said the ranch was purchased by the family more than 100 years ago, and they’ve maintained its agricultural heritage through hay production and cattle.
“This is a large, intact ranch with everything on it,” he said.
The ranch is on the Little Laramie River, which offers irrigation for hay and a riparian corridor for wildlife, including moose, passing through on their way to the mountains. It also contains habitat for mule deer, elk and pronghorn.
It’s also within view of Wyoming 130 and I-80, which means travelers won’t be gazing across subdivided housing developments in the future as they admire the Snowy Range.
Bob Budd, executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, said the easement exemplified grassroots conservation.
“This is yet another important conservation project along the Little Laramie River, located in an area that provides essential connectivity between mountains and plains,” he said in a news release.
Earlier this year, landowners Fred and Stephanie Lindzey established a conservation easement on their 133-acre property near Centennial. Their property also has riverfront habitat and open spaces for big game near the national forest.
Schacht said the land trust aims to conserve agricultural land for reasons such as food security and protecting the ranching heritage, in addition to the conservation value of open spaces. Conservation easements provide a revenue stream for a ranching family that helps one generation transfer the operation to the next generation.
“One of our goals as the land trust is to keep it in ag and out of rural development,” he said.
The Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust now holds more than 31,000 acres of conservation easements in Albany County, which would form an area twice the size as the city of Laramie. Statewide, it holds easements on 275,000 acres of ranches and farms.