Wyoming legislature approves funding for ag land conservation projects
March 22, 2018
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Legislature has approved an allocation of $1.95 million from the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Fund to the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust to help conserve over 6,300 acres of agricultural land in the state. The funding was originally granted in 2017 by WWNRT's board of directors.
Founded in 2005 by the Wyoming legislature, the WWNRT is funded by interest earned on a permanent account and donations. The purpose of the program is to enhance and conserve wildlife habitat and natural resource values throughout the state. Since 2006, the WWNRT has funded nearly 550 projects in all 23 counties of the state. Every dollar spent by the WWNRT is matched on average with $6 from other sources, and WWNRT projects maintain agricultural operations, conservation businesses and other job-producing enterprises, including the tourism industry.
"We are fortunate that the state of Wyoming recognizes the importance of, and invests in the future of agriculture and conservation," said WSGLT Executive Director Bo Alley. "State level funding means that we can access and bring federal dollars into Wyoming, through the farm bill, at a rate of 2 to 1. The Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust is really just a conduit for these dollars, which go directly to Wyoming ag producers, and into our rural communities."
This grant funding at the state level is one of the first steps in the process to complete these conservation easements which are expected to close in late 2019 or early 2020. The completion of these projects will permanently conserve multi-generational ranches and thousands of acres of critical wildlife habitat and open space.
Bob Budd, WWNRT's executive director, commented, "We are very pleased to see these worthwhile projects moving forward and appreciate the hard work of the WSGLT to make it happen. Agriculture and open space provide a huge foundation for Wyoming's wildlife, and our economy, and these projects carry those opportunities into the future."
Purchased conservation easements enable farming and ranching families to not only maintain the tradition and industry of agriculture, but to improve and expand their operations. Recent studies completed by Colorado State University, show public benefits in the range of $4-$12 for every $1 invested in ag land conservation. These public benefits come from the attributes that agricultural lands provide, such as natural water filtration, carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat.