Our Role

Working with the Thomas family over a five-year period, The Conservation Fund acquired a conservation easement on 2,360 acres in April 2018, through the Natural Resource Conservation Service Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (NRCS ACEP-ALE). The conservation easement restricts development, supports continued ranching operations, conserves big game migration corridors and habitat, and protects core greater sage grouse habitat. The NRCS easement is the first of its kind to protect Greater sage grouse core habitat in balance with continued ranching operations in the Upper Green River Valley.

The Fund’s partnership with the Thomas family provides a successful template for future conservation efforts and partners utilizing the NRCS ACEP-ALE program in the Upper Green River Valley. Financial assistance and support from a host of key partners made this project possible, including:

• The Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (NRCS ACEP)
• Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust
• Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
• The Cross Foundation
• Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition
• The Thomas family
• Anonymous foundation

The Fund will transfer the conservation easement to a conservation partner organization in the future for easement stewardship.

Why this project matters

Situated within the State of Wyoming's core habitat area for Greater sage-grouse, the Thomas Ranch property provides world-class wildlife habitat for these birds, as well as for species like Shiras moose, elk, mule deer and pronghorn antelope. The property is adjacent to migration routes for pronghorn antelope, moose and mule deer, helping provide key habitat for these animals as they complete the longest migration route in the lower 48 states.

Thomas Trust Lands2

Conserving the Thomas Ranch property helps add to this network of protected lands in the Greater Yellowstone Area, a region that is noted for being the world’s most intact temperate ecosystem. The Conservation Fund has protected tens of thousands of acres within the Greater Yellowstone Area, including nearly 81,000 acres of private land in the Upper Green River region. This region has been threatened in recent years by energy development, as it is located atop two major natural gas fields, but by working with ranch owners like the Thomas Family, we’re helping preserve habitat and ranching traditions in the region.