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New Conservation Agreement Provides Wildlife Habitat and Creates Recreational Opportunities

Cattle graze in meadows along South Piney Creek on the Fish Creek Flying W Ranch west of Big Piney in 2011. Photo by Mark Gocke, Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Cattle graze in meadows along South Piney Creek on the Fish Creek Flying W Ranch west of Big Piney in 2011. Photo by Mark Gocke, Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

A new land conservation agreement will protect key wildlife habitat in Wyoming’s Green River Valley. The agreement, which establishes two conservation easements on the Fish Creek Flying W Ranches near Big Piney, was coordinated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and The Conservation Fund.

Funding to purchase the easements came from the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), a federal program managed by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), with additional funds from state partners. FRPP provides matching funds to help purchase development rights to keep productive farm and ranchland in agricultural uses.

A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. It allows landowners to continue to own and use their land and eventually sell it or pass it on to heirs.

The Green River bottomlands of the Johnson place near Big Piney where new public fishing access will be available. Photo by Mark Gocke, Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

The Green River bottomlands of the Johnson place near Big Piney where new public fishing access will be available. Photo by Mark Gocke, Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

The Fish Creek Flying W Ranches easements create a wildlife corridor that connects nearby public lands, permanently preserving vital big game winter ranges. They also provide public walk-in access to the Green River for fishing, education and other recreational activities.

The1,530-acre Fish Creek Flying W Ranches, owned and managed by Pam Chrisman, are actually two properties. The Johnson Place, located about four miles south of Big Piney and Marbleton, features nearly two miles of Green River frontage and provides valuable habitat for moose, mule deer, bald eagles and other wildlife. The property has been in the Chrisman family for more than 100 years.

The Fish Creek Ranch is about 18 miles west of Big Piney and encompasses more than two miles of land along Fish and South Piney Creeks. It also serves as a crucial winter range for one of the largest concentrations of Shiras moose along the Wyoming Range, as well as an important movement corridor for both elk and mule deer. The property provides important habitat for sage-grouse.

Protecting these properties from future development will help safeguard the water quality of Green River, Fish Creek and South Piney Creek. All of these waterways provide spawning habitat for native and non-native sports fish, including the Colorado River cutthroat trout, and other fish species.

South Piney drainage as it flows out of the Wyoming Range on the Fish Creek Flying W Ranch west of Big Piney. Photo by Mark Gocke, Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

South Piney drainage as it flows out of the Wyoming Range on the Fish Creek Flying W Ranch west of Big Piney. Photo by Mark Gocke, Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

The matching funds were provided by the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, Access Yes and the Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will handle the long-term stewardship of the conservation easements and fishing access agreement.

Find out more about the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program.

Check out more conservation stories on the USDA blog.

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One Response to “New Conservation Agreement Provides Wildlife Habitat and Creates Recreational Opportunities”

  1. Roger Moellendorf says:

    Hurrah for the WYG&F! The best Game & Fish Dept. in the country. This is unbelievable country. I’ve fished and hiked it many times.

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