JHLT Protects 68.5 Acres of Wildlife Habitat along the Wind River

The Wind River Program of the Jackson Hole Land Trust (JHLT) announced today that 68.5 acres in Fremont County along the Wind River have been protected through the Wind River Rookery conservation easement, now held by the JHLT’s Wind River Program.

Protected in perpetuity on April 23, the Wind River Rookery contains important open space that supports working lands, riparian, and big game habitat. Its permanent conservation contributes to the long-term ecological viability and connectivity of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

“We are pleased to participate in the ongoing conservation protection of important wildlife habitat along the Wind River,” said the anonymous landowners, who generously donated a portion of the easement’s value. “The JHLT’s plan for protecting important land complements the other conservation easements like pieces of a larger puzzle for wildlife moving through the Wind River Valley.”

The Wind River Rookery contains 4,300 feet of both riparian and aquatic habitat along the Wind River, a Class II trout fishery of statewide importance. The conservation of this property directly benefits native wildlife in this section of the Wind River corridor, as well as the species in the arid region through which the river flows.

The property’s working agricultural lands provide diverse wildlife habitat — irrigated, hay-producing meadows, wet meadows with associated shrub-scrub wetlands, cottonwood forest, and tall-shrub communities where water seeps from sloped sagebrush-grasslands. These varied habitats benefit several of Wyoming’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including bald eagles and great blue herons.

Wind River Rookery’s location also promotes wildlife resilience by expanding connectivity with neighboring protected lands that stretch from the Wind River Mountains to the Wind River riparian corridor. This connectivity is of particular importance for a core population of Wyoming’s bighorn sheep, which live in the nearby Whiskey Basin, Dubois Badlands, and Spence & Moriarity wildlife habitat management areas. Wind River Rookery supports the migration of large game and contains Winter Crucial Range for pronghorn and mule deer, and year-round habitat for elk, moose, and pronghorn. The easement also permanently protects nesting, feeding, and shelter habitat for waterfowl and other birds, as well as for small mammals.

“This is a significant conservation gain for the Wind River Valley and Northwest Wyoming,” said Liz Long, JHLT director of conservation and interim co-director. “The property has been incredibly well stewarded by the current landowner. Its working lands, riparian and wildlife habitat, and adjacency to other conserved properties established the property as a priority conservation project for the JHLT. We are thrilled that the ecological and cultural values created by this dynamic open space are now protected forever and we are grateful to our funding and landowner partners who each played a critical role in completing the project.”

The Wind River Rookery conservation easement was accomplished with funding from Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. In addition to this public funding, the landowners donated a portion of the easement’s value.