A new conservation easement established on the eastern side of the Snowy Range will protect more than 2,000 acres of open space from future development.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust and Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition collaborated with the Blake family to create the Little Laramie Valley conservation easement project on 2,091 acres of ranchland that lies along the foothills of the Snowy Range.
The easement consists of two contiguous parcels that are adjacent to the 133-acre Home Ranch conservation easement, which was created by the Lindzey family last year. Two more adjacent easements established in recent years combine to create about 9,000 of unbroken wildlife habitat in the area, which is near the Medicine Bow National Forest, sits along the Snowy Range Scenic Byway and is in view of Interstate 80.
“The neighbors have all been talking together and coordinating,” said Leah Burgess, lands program manager for Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
An adjacent section of state land continues the habitat conservation in the area, allowing wildlife unbroken passage between the mountains and the plains along the Little Laramie River.
“That really enhances the unfragmented nature of the landscape down there,” Burgess said.
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 Little Laramie Valley project includes year-round habitat for several hundred elk as well as winter range for elk, moose and mule deer. Many other game and non-game species also make the area their home.
More than 80 species of birds use the area for breeding, while riparian habitat created by the river, which bisects the property, is used by wild trout and other fish.
Landowner Chad Blake said he appreciates the chance to contribute to conservation in the area.
“It’s humbling now, after all these years, to have the opportunity to live here with my family and know that with the help of RMEF, a portion of this special area will be conserved for future generations to enjoy,” he said.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation works with willing landowners to establish conservation easements that protect winter range, summer range, migration corridors, calving grounds and other areas of importance to elk and other wildlife.