Gooseberry Creek Conservation Project
Elk at Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Dan & and Lin Dzurisin/Flickr
The Gooseberry Creek Conservation Project is among the first large-scale, watershed-based voluntary conservation initiatives in Wyoming and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Yellowstone National Park and surrounding national forest lands are considered the largest functioning ecosystem in the lower forty-eight states. The project seeks to permanently protect properties totaling nearly 35,000 acres, including 65 miles of Gooseberry Creek that are associated with 220,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management and state of Wyoming leased lands.
These properties are located in the foothill-basin transition zone, one of the most environmentally diverse habitats in the inter-montane basin region of Wyoming and encompassing a riverbank corridor bordered by BLM lands. Together they form an interconnected mosaic of lands in the southeastern corner of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
The Conservation Fund is partnering with several local landowners, the Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust (WSGALT), the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Fund to complete phased acquisitions of several adjoining conservation easements to protect this important resource.
The project was initiated by five long-time working ranch families. The first acquisition of a conservation easement was completed on the 654-acre Barnett Ranch along Gooseberry Creek in 2005. Phase two of the project was completed in August of 2007 and permanently conserved more than 4,000 acres of neighboring land along Gooseberry Creek owned by three long-time ranch families.
The nearly 35,000 acres of land are the main water source and breeding habitat for local ungulates, small mammals and a diverse mix of resident and migratory birds. It also serves as a winter range for elk, mule deer, moose, and antelope, which utilize adjacent and nearby public lands as a summer and transitional range.