September 9, 2020

Bridger-Teton National Forest Gains Priority Inholding

SUBLETTE COUNTY, Wyo. — The Conservation Fund, U.S. Forest Service and Jackson Hole Land Trust announced the addition of 240-acre Loomis Park Ranch to the Bridger-Teton National Forest in northwest Wyoming. Nearly encircled by the national forest, the protection of Loomis Park Ranch has been a top Forest Service priority in the Greater Yellowstone Area for the past two decades. The Forest Service’s acquisition of the ranch effectively consolidates 280 acres within the forest, eliminates subdivision threats, preserves historical agricultural use and protects wildlife habitat. This conservation effort was made possible through funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which was permanently and fully funded by a new law enacted last month.

Loomis Park Ranch has long been utilized for agriculture and cattle grazing, and the Bridger-Teton National Forest is committed to that continued private use of the property. The ranch will be immediately added to Bridger-Teton’s existing Beaver Twin grazing allotment, supporting the deep connection between ranchers and the land in the Upper Green River watershed, home to some of the largest and oldest grazing allotments in the country.

The addition of Loomis Park Ranch to Bridger-Teton National Forest will eliminate the threat of subdivision in an area with high potential for forest fragmentation that could negatively impact key wildlife habitat. Scientific data from the Wyoming Migration Initiative indicates that Loomis Park Ranch is in and adjacent to several important elk, mule deer, and pronghorn migration corridors in the southwest portion of the Gros Ventre Mountains. Migrating elk from the Black Butte and Soda Lake winter feeding grounds stop over on the ranch, while individuals in the mule deer herd using the Red Desert to Hoback Corridor migrate through it. The ranch sits on the boundary of a known pronghorn migration corridor just 1.5 miles west of the famous Path of the Pronghorn migration corridor. Grizzly bear, black bear, moose, raptors and neotropical songbirds all utilize this wildlife haven.

When the property went up for sale in 2016, The Conservation Fund stepped in and purchased the land, allowing the Forest Service the time needed to acquire funding. The Jackson Hole Land Trust assisted The Conservation Fund to hold and ultimately transfer the land to the Forest Service.

“Conserving the Loomis Park Ranch was a Wyoming-centered solution in many ways,” said Dan Schlager, Wyoming Director at The Conservation Fund. “The culmination of tremendous collaboration, this outcome maintains agriculture, conserves wildlife, enables a unique way to enjoy outdoor spaces, and supports Wyoming’s economy through multiple uses of public land. I’m grateful to the various partners involved from private landowners, to the Jackson Hole Land Trust, to the Forest Service who worked tirelessly on Loomis Park Ranch over several years.”

Forest Supervisor Tricia O’Connor emphasized the value of partnerships like these for the greater good. “The Loomis Park Ranch parcel is a great example of what is possible when partners come together for the benefit of our public lands,” she said. “Without our partners, the land transfer could not have taken place and because of that we now have a more intact National Forest System for the benefit of our public and the many uses this land will see in future generations.”

The recreational economy of nearby Jackson Hole is dependent on outdoor tourist destinations like Bridger-Teton National Forest and the adjacent Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. The Jackson Hole Land Trust continues to invest in these landmarks. With the launch of the Green River Valley Program (GRVP) in 2016, the Jackson Hole Land Trust has expanded its mission to include protecting open spaces in Sublette County. The GRVP works to conserve lands that contribute to productive local agriculture and provide critical connectivity to the historic wildlife migration corridors that run across Northwest Wyoming.

“We were excited to be part of this collaborative approach to protect the Loomis Park Ranch through its incorporation into the Bridger Teton National Forest,” said Liz Long, Interim Co-Director and Director of Conservation at the Jackson Hole Land Trust. “This project embodies the spirit of our work to provide migration connectivity and stopover habitat to our region’s wildlife and to support agricultural operations. The protection of properties such as the Loomis Park Ranch, which holds significant conservation values, is our priority, and we were proud to be a partner in preserving this important piece of open space forever.”

This Bridger-Teton National Forest effort was funded by the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which in August 2020 was ensured full and permanent funding with the enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act. The LWCF is a bipartisan, federal program that uses a percentage of proceeds from offshore oil and gas royalties—not taxpayer dollars—to acquire critical lands and protect our country’s best natural resources and recreational access for more than 50 years. Wyoming’s Congressional delegation representing this project include U.S. Senator John Barrasso, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi and U.S. Representative Liz Cheney.

About Bridger-Teton National Forest
The Bridger-Teton National Forest is 3.4 million acres which stretches from the southern border of Yellowstone National Park, to the sagebrush prairies of southwest-central Wyoming. The Forest includes headwaters of three nationally significant rivers (Yellowstone, Snake and Green). Some of the largest and most diverse populations of mammals in North America exist here. Recreation opportunities and scenic quality are internationally renowned. The three wilderness areas, some of the nation’s best opportunities for winter sports, a trail system of some 3,000 miles, and a network of scenic roads stretching more than 2,500 miles, attracts over 3.6 million visitors each year. The Forest also offers unique features such as the Wild and Scenic Snake River Canyon, where more than 150 thousand visitors float through its whitewater annually.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than eight million acres of land, including nearly 185,000 acres in Wyoming.

About Jackson Hole Land Trust
The Jackson Hole Land Trust is a private, nonprofit organization that was established in 1980 to protect and steward the treasured landscapes of Northwest Wyoming including Fremont and Sublette counties. With more than 56,000 acres conserved, our vision is a legacy of protected open spaces, wildlife habitat, working lands and community spaces that inspire current and future generations.

Val Keefer | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5802 |
Mary Cernicek | U.S. Forest Service | 307-739-5564 |
Jenny Wolfrom | Jackson Hole Land Trust | 307-733-4707 |