Wyoming Game and Fish recognizes Landowners of the Year
O-Y Ranch (Black Butte) and Diamond H Ranch (LaBarge) recognized
by Wyoming Game and Fish
August 4, 2009
Close to 50 percent of Wyoming is private land and much of that land provides quality habitat for wildlife as well as hunting opportunity. Often that habitat is enhanced by private landowners who also provide places to hunt for Wyoming sportsmen.
Each year, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department presents its Landowners of the Year awards, recognizing Wyoming landowners in each region who have demonstrated a commitment to wildlife management, habitat improvement and conservation practices. The landowners will be honored at a banquet on Sept. 10 in Casper as part of the 2009 Wyoming Hunting & Fishing Heritage Expo.
Pinedale Region: O-Y Ranch-Chris and Bradley James
The O-Y Ranch is located next to the Black Butte elk feedground some 16 miles north of Pinedale in the Upper Green River Basin. At different times of the year, the 4,500-acre ranch is home to thousands of elk, deer and antelope and includes several migration routes including the Path of the Pronghorn, the historic route where antelope from Jackson Hole undertake an unusual and lengthy migration from the Jackson area to winter range south of Pinedale. To make these travels more wildlife friendly, miles of fence has been removed or modified to make the migration easier. To improve habitat for moose and other riparian wildlife, the ranch has removed cattle grazing next to the Green River and has implemented prescribed burns on these willows to generate new, healthy plants. They have also treated 300 acres of decadent sagebrush using the Lawson Aerator to improve nesting habitat for sage grouse. They have been actively involved in the Green River Valley Land Trust, which has successfully worked with ranches in conserving open spaces through easements protecting lands from habitat development and fragmentation. Currently, the ranch is working with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to protect and improve deer and antelope migration through the Critical Trapper’s Point migration bottleneck west of Pinedale. A hunter himself, Chris is very involved in trying to preserve the hunting opportunities for young hunters and has implemented a youth hunter program on the ranch where young hunters can come and hunt cow elk. This also helps the Game and Fish work towards achieving the population objective of the Black Butte Elk Herd. Over the years they have been very cooperative with the Game and Fish with law enforcement, wildlife surveys and have gladly accepted moose that have been relocated from nuisance or damage situations.
Green River Region: Diamond H Ranch, LaBarge, Wyoming- Myles, Corby, Michael and Rachel McGinnis
The Diamond H Ranch is a commercial Hereford cattle ranch dating back to 1886 and includes 7,200 deeded acres and 110,000 acres of leases on Bureau of Land Management and U.S. National Forest lands. The ranch and public land leases provide yearlong and crucial winter range for elk, mule deer, moose, pronghorn and sage grouse, including several sage grouse leks. Also present are black bears, mountain lions, ruffed grouse and numerous nongame species. Riparian areas include property along LaBarge Creek, north and south forks of Fontenelle Creek, and Clear and Spring creeks. These areas provide habitat for Colorado River cutthroat trout and many riparian species. The McGinnises have a full understanding that conserving and enhancing all habitats benefit not only wildlife but their ranching operation as well. They have worked to make progressive changes in livestock management of local BLM and forest service allotments. Corby also serves as the chairperson of the Southwest Wyoming Sage Grouse Working Group. The Diamond H is currently developing a conservation easement for the ranch helping to ensure both agriculture and wildlife remain on the landscape of southwest Wyoming forever. The McGinnis family are avid hunters and fishermen. The ranch supports and allows hunting and fishing on their lands and especially encourages youth hunting.
Also recognized were:
Casper Region: Geier Ranch- Marlin and Mary Geier
Cody Region: Harold Miller and Sons - Harold, Jim, Dan, Pete, Hugh and
Jackson Region: Jackson Hole Land Trust
Lander Region: Rodewald Ranch (Carbon County)- Duane and Debbie
Laramie Region: Booth Land and Livestock- Gary and Mark Booth, Nick
and Cindy Speiser
Sheridan Region: Hayden Ranch-Kerry and Stephanie Hayden