The Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust completed the Martin Place project conserving 840 acres of productive rangeland in Sublette County. The Martin Place conservation easement, which closed on September 26, complements 14 conservation easements in Sublette County held by the Stock Growers Land Trust and results in a new total of 38,312 acres under easement in that county. This total includes three easements already completed by landowner Maggie Miller as part of the Sommers Grindstone project. As with the others, the Martin Place conservation easement will ensure the ranch’s compatibility with agriculture and prevents the ranch from being converted to non-agricultural uses in the future.
The Martin Place has a rich variety of plant and animal diversity as it lies between Bridger-Teton National Forest and the Green River. South Beaver Creek and its tributaries provide abundant riparian habitat for a number of nesting songbirds, raptors, waterfowl, and shore birds. The surrounding uplands provide terrestrial habitat for a number of sage brush obligate species including Greater Sage Grouse. The eastern portion of the ranch is encompassed by the Daniel Sage Grouse Core Area and has been determined by the Wyoming Game and Fish department to provide suitable spring, summer and fall habitat for elk and winter-yearlong habitat for moose.
This project was made possible by funding from the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, The Natural Resources Conservation Service, along with an in-kind donation from the land owner. Bob Budd, Executive Director of the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, said, “This is another great example of a long-time Wyoming ranch conserving important wildlife habitat, while at the same time assuring a future for Wyoming agriculture. Hats off to Maggie and the Stock Growers Land Trust for completing this deal.”
Oregon State Conservationist, and current administrator of NRCS easement programs in Wyoming, Ron Alvarado said, “The Natural Resources Conservation Service is pleased to partner with the Stock Growers Land Trust in the conservation of important agricultural land in Wyoming. We appreciate the continued work with our partners and private landowners as we work together through the Farm Bill program administration and review process. We thank Ms. Miller for her commitment to conserve land in critically important sage grouse habitat.”
Following Friday’s closing in Pinedale, Maggie Miller said, “Again, I have a tremendous amount of gratitude to Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust, WWNRTF and NRCS for supporting the Martin Place conservation easement. It’s gratifying to know that the Martin Place lands will always be in agriculture and conservation for generations to come.”
Stock Growers Land Trust Executive Director Pamela Dewell said, “We thank Maggie Miller for her choice to conserve land in critical sage grouse habitat. We are also very grateful to DC- and Oregon-based staff for recognizing the importance of this project. Finally, we are very appreciative of the patience of landowners whose projects have been delayed due to reviews of Farm Bill program administration and look forward to closing several other projects in the very near future.”
Citizens of the North Platte Valley and beyond turned out in record numbers to support area charities at the “Valley Strong” benefit concert put on by Brush Creek Ranch at the Community Center. Thanks to the generosity of Bruce and Beth White, 100% of the proceeds from ticket sales were distributed to 21 different charities as designated by those who purchased tickets.
The main beneficiary of the event was the Corbett Medical Center Foundation which graciously shared the evening’s proceeds. Michael Williams, chief operating officer for Brush Creek Ranch, told the audience of 400 plus people that nearly $300,000 had been raised, with more than $250,000 going to the foundation that supports the Platte Valley Medical Clinic.
19 other non-profit organizations, including the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust, garnered a total of $13,650.00. 33 individuals designated the Stock Growers Land Trust as their beneficiary of choice! Retired Padlock Ranch Manager Wayne and Judy Fasholz get the award for supporters who came the furthest as they traveled from Ranchester to attend and participate in other activities in Carbon County.
Other organizations which benefitted from the event were the Saratoga Lions Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Platte Valley Community Center, Saratoga Rodeo Club, Ryan Park Volunteer Fire Department, Platte Valley Trout Unlimited, Xi Beta Delta, Saratoga Museum, Wyoming Cutting Horse, Bevo 4-H Club, Upper Platte Valley Search & Rescue, Grand Encampment Museum, Toga Productions, Saratoga Fire Department, Voices of the Valley, Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts and Valley Service Organization.
“I think it’s fantastic that the community came together to support Valley Strong and a fun night with Sawyer Brown. By doing this they ensure the local organizations raise as much funds as possible based on their individual efforts,” Williams said.
Huge thanks to the Valley Strong Benefit organizers
Laura Bucholz, Beth White and Dulcie Schalk
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a charitable giving bill - H.R. 4719 – that reinstates and makes permanent a federal income tax deduction for voluntarily conserving agricultural lands. This provision, introduced as H.R. 2807, enhances the deductions for gifts of conservation easements that permanently conserve working farm and ranch lands. Conservation easements retire development rights on private lands while allowing continued agricultural production. Thanks to Representative Cynthia Lummis who spoke in favor of the bill on the floor of the House last week http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4504028/lummis-house-floor-conservation-easements
Since 2006, an enhanced income tax deduction has allowed family farmers and ranchers to receive a significant tax benefit for conservation easement donations. This 2006 tax incentive expired at the end of 2013, but the recently passed House bill would make the enhanced deduction permanent and more favorable to agricultural landowners with modest incomes.
The Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust collaborated with other members of the Partnership of Rangeland Trusts (PORT) and the Land Trust Alliance, the national association of more than 1,700 land trusts from around the country, in support of H.R. 2807 and will continue this effort to gain Senate approval. The Wyoming Stock Growers Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
PORT is an association of seven statewide, agriculturally oriented land trusts who have worked with over
1,200 farm and ranch families to hold and administer their conservation easements on over 2 million acres. Many of these landowners have utilized the services of PORT members in their farm and ranch succession plans.
In addition to the enhanced tax deduction for conservation easements, PORT is focusing on the administration of the new Natural Resources Conservation Service Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), to assure the rule and guidelines are landowner friendly. Estate tax re
lief and changing the Land and Water Conservation Program so program funds may be used for private land conservation of working agricultural lands are also PORT policy priorities. PORT members include California Rangeland Trust, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Montana Land Reliance, Oregon Rangeland Trust, Ranchland Trust of Kansas, Texas Agricultural Land Trust and Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust
Director, Pam Dewell and Business Manager, Margaret Cox are members of the Kiwanis Club of Cheyenne. Kiwanis Club serves up pancakes each year during Cheyenne Frontier Days. This year the Kiwanis Club served 27,938 people in three days! That is a lot of pancakes!
Approximately 3,000 acres of productive ranchland in Hot Springs County have been preserved as the result of a conservation easement completed on June 30 by the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust. In partnership with the Wilson family, and with key funding contributed by The Conservation Fund through their Wyoming Sage-Grouse Conservation Campaign, and supported by the Knobloch Family Foundation, the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust and the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, a conservation easement on the Swallow Place on the V Ranch ensures that the unit will remain in agricultural production in perpetuity.
Jim and Terry Wilson chose to prevent the subdivision and development of the property in the future and donated a significant portion of the appraised value. The Wilsons have been active participants in various conservation efforts along Kirby Creek and provide hunters with access through the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s “walk-in” program. The ranch serves as suitable habitat for many of Wyoming’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need and a majority of their ranch is designated as yearlong habitat for pronghorn and crucial winter-yearlong habitat for mule deer by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The property is within a Sage Grouse Core Area and the northern portion of the property is designated as Crucial Terrestrial Habitat in the Department’s Strategic Habitat Plan.
The decision to place the easement on their family property was a decision the Wilsons gave great thought to and the project was thoughtfully planned to further the family’s estate planning as well as complement the many conservation efforts already completed and planned for the future. Following the closing, which was attended by Jim and Terry Wilson and daughter and granddaughter Billie Jo and Emme Norsworthy, Jim said “Completing an easement gives us a little more security for the land we have there. It joins an easement the neighbors have so it kinda ties a little more of the area in. It gives us some security for what the future is going to bring and saves that land – that was our intent, to keep it as is for future generations to come and we had three generations sitting at the signing because we wanted to have them involved and for them to see what that means. And their approval means a lot to us.”
Chairman of the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust Ed Prosser stated, “The Wilson family, going back to Willard, has been a driving force in the cattle business in Wyoming and surrounding states for longer than I can remember. Practically a household name if you have been in the business in this part of the country very long. It is rewarding that a family with that much history in the cattle business in Wyoming understands the importance of conserving and protecting ag lands for future generations.”
Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Executive Director Bob Budd spoke of the integration of agricultural and wildlife values, “It’s exciting to see projects like this come to fruition. The Wilsons are a long-standing ranch family with deep roots in Hot Springs County. Their commitment to Hot Springs County and to the ag industry is hard to match. This is a particularly important conservation easement when we look at the future challenges presented by sage grouse and other species as this particular project conserves sage grouse in an area of extreme importance to their future livelihood.”
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department also expressed their thanks to the landowners. “This outstanding partnership will conserve these very important wildlife habitats in perpetuity; we appreciate the Wilsons’ vision and commitment to agriculture and conservation,” said Director Scott Talbott. The V Ranch project marks the fourth completed by the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust in collaboration with the Department.
The majority of the property is visible from Kirby Creek Road where travelers can look across the pastoral view of the property toward the Bridger and Owl Mountain Ranges on the horizon.