- SERVING PEOPLE -
Grindstone Cattle Company - Daniel, WY
Maggie Miller, Owner
For the Jackson/Pinedale Region, Maggie Miller owner of the Grindstone Cattle Company near Daniel, WY is the 2010 recipient. Maggie's overall management philosophy is about balance between livestock and wildlife, and between resources and economics. Her cattle operation includes management in over 17,000 acres of private land as well as another 26,000 acres of adjacent BLM and State lands. She is very hands-on with daily operations of this ranch which is divided into the Scott, Duke and Todd Places, all named for their homesteading history. Her management strategies are also focused on improving the riparian health on her lands. Nine miles of the Green River are included on her Todd and Scott places. Maggie's acreage is included in the Sommers-Grindstone Conservation Easement and Public Access Project conserving seasonal range for a variety of wildlife including moose, sage grouse, elk, pronghorn, waterfowl and area carnivores, as well as providing public access for fishing on the Green River. She frequently allows access to Wyoming Game and Fish Department personnel for population inventories such as sage grouse lek surveys. Additionally, the Grindstone Cattle Company undergoes intensive management for brucellosis testing on cattle. Maggie has cooperatively worked with NRCS to complete a thorough resource inventory in 2008 and 2009. This helped design her current conservation plan, facilitating her livestock grazing in balance with her other objectives for land use.
Bales Brothers Ranch - Cody, WY
Art and Shirley Bales, Owner
Art and Shirley Bales of the Bales Brothers Ranch are recognized for the Cody Region. Born and raised on the property, Art married Shirley in 1956 and carried on the tradition of family ranching. While raising their four boys, they successfully operated a five thousand acre cattle ranch located at the base of Carter Mountain in the South Fork of the Shoshone River Valley near Cody, Wyoming. Always being good stewards and custodians of the fragile South Fork rangeland, Art and Shirley have remained vigilant. Their livestock grazing practices keep their cattle dispersed throughout the summer and fall, avoiding fragile riparian areas and watersheds. Elk have been the real beneficiary of the family's grazing practices, as their ranch is included in one of the premier trophy bull elk hunting areas in Wyoming. In 1993 the Bales family teamed with neighboring ranches and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to manage this elk herd under the trophy management status. Since that time, elk hunters have harvested numerous trophy class bulls on and around their ranch each year. The Bales family has also enrolled their property in the Carter Mountain Hunter Management Area. This has allowed both resident and nonresident hunters the opportunity to access their property at no charge. Art and Shirley have taken a step back from the ranching business and have turned over the day-to-day operations to sons Steve and Tom. They have not only quietly passed on their work ethic to the family, but also their appreciation for the wildlife, the hunting tradition, and providing open spaces for wildlife to roam.
X - X Ranch - Parkman, WY
Patti Manigault, Owner
David and Kathy Hannahs, Ranch Managers
Owner Patti Manigault and ranch managers David and Kathy Hannahs of the X - X Ranch near Parkman, Wyoming are the Sheridan region award recipients. The X - X Ranch borders the north and east sides of the Kerns Wildlife Habitat Management Area (WHMA). The Kerns WMHA is home to mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, and upland birds, and it winters approximately 650 elk. Throughout the spring and fall months, up to 400 elk may be found on the ranch. David Hannahs has modified his ranch management plan to accommodate the elk. He has purposely delayed grazing southern areas of the ranch bordering the WHMA, to allow more grass to be available for elk. Following Mother Nature's example, David changed the gestation of his herd for calving in late May and early June saving time and money. His progressive practices have benefitted the areas upland bird and deer populations through water management making water developments a high priority. Fence changes have led to a more efficient pasture rotation scheme, leaving more forage for wildlife. The ranch has also scaled back on its haying operation providing more cover for nesting grouse, pheasants, and turkeys. Pattie Manigault has been very active in preserving open spaces and valuable wildlife habitats in perpetuity. To date, 6756 acres of development have been donated to limited conservation easements in Sheridan County.
Green River Region
Anadarko Land Corporation - Woodland, TX
Anadarko Land Corporation is the 2010 Green River Region landowner of the year. While traditionally a farm or ranch operation is recognized with this award, Anadarko is a significant landowner within southwestern Wyoming. In partnership Anadarko owns and manages a large percentage of the private checkerboard sections from Rawlins to Evanston. Their partnerships support local agriculture and a wide diversity of sagebrush obligate species. The corporation has shown increased commitment to surface resource values and wildlife. They recently removed over thirteen miles of woven wire sheep fence that was a significant barrier to pronghorn migration. It was replaced with a four strand wildlife-friendly fence. Increased movement and use of traditional pronghorn range that had been prevented by the old fence design was immediately noted. Within the Grander lease and other nearby allotments, Anadarko has also made some dramatic improvements to range and wildlife habitat which was suffering from long-term drought and intensive grazing. Based on local expert advice, Andarko is employing rest periods for these areas. A significant number of hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts benefit from the open space provided by a combination of Andarko and BLM lands. Without this commitment, an extremely large area of our state would have very limited access for hunting and other forms of wildlife related recreation.
Flying 7 Ranch - Wheatland, WY
Gary and Karen Ricley, Owners
The Flying 7 Ranch near Slater, Wyoming is home not only to a variety of wildlife, but owners Gary and Karen Ricley, the Laramie region award recipients. The Ricleys began working closely with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in the late 1990's, to enhance their Conservation Reserve Program lands for wildlife by planting over 2,000 trees and shrubs. This provides winter cover for upland game birds. A wildlife watering facility supported by their house well was also installed. This water source is maintained throughout the entire year, and is heavily utilized by birds, small mammals, and pronghorn. These projects were completed in cooperation with the USDA, Pheasants Forever Chug Creek Chapter, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's Habitat Extension Services program. Gary and Karen have worked together as a team to put their habitat projects on the ground and actively manage the CRP acres. They have spent countless hours watering and weeding tree rows to ensure survivability of their seedlings. They planted a diverse mix of grass and legume species resulting in high use by wildlife. All fences on the property were recently converted to wildlife-friendly standards. Joining the Department's Walk-In Area program in 2002 now allows department-managed hunting for upland birds and bg game on their land. In 2010, the Ricleys added ring-necked pheasant access to their Walk-In Area and allowed the Department to schedule regular bird releases. Gary and Karen have enjoyed the extra hunter participation. Gary often pause his own work to visit with sportsmen and help ensure their success whenever he can.
Smith Meadow Ranch - Rawlins, WY
Donna Smith, Owner
The Lander region award recipient is Donna Smith, owner of the Smith Meadow Ranch. Located in Elk Area 118, the ranch was historically void of elk, but is now home to a diversity of wildlife which includes elk, mule deer, sage grouse, and may other non-game species. They Smith Meadow Ranch has always been open to sportsmen who ask permission. In 2001, they enrolled 475 acres in the Department's access program, providing access to over 1,500 acres of adjacent BLM and State lands for combined access of more than 2,000 acres. They allow hunting of deer, elk, pronghorn, and small game, and support the public access program wholeheartedly. You can count on Donna to give honest feedback about hunting seasons, wildlife observations, and encounters with hunters she may have had. As a conscientious landowner Donna is always concerned about the amount of grazing the land receives. It is evident that the cattle are managed thoughtfully with a mind toward stewardship of the land. In partnership with the NRCS and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Smiths constructed a solar well on the property. The solar well now provides water to the abundant wildlife as well as cattle on the ranch. Donna and her son, Don Ray, have actively worked to enhance lands they own and lease to the benefit of all. Their stewardship of the land and its resources, as well as their strong support of wildlife, makes them deserving of this award.
Angle N Ranch - Newcastle, WY
David Nahrgang (posthumously), Owner
The legacy one leaves to benefit wildlife and wild places often transcend a man's life. This is the case with Casper region award recipient David Nahrgang and the work he accomplished on his beloved Angle N Ranch just north of Newcastle. Dave's life was recently taken after a short battle with cancer, but his conservation work will continue to enhance Wyoming wildlife and habitats for years to come. Over the past 25 years, Dave actively worked with state and federal agencies, conservation groups, and others to enhance the 4,000 acres under his ownership as well Wyoming State Trust Lands he leased for livestock grazing. His stewardship, love of wildlife, and desire to safeguard and improve their habitats was foremost in his life. Dave began working with the Soil Conservation Service, now the NRCS, about 20 years ago to enhance the habitat on his property. Their work included new, improved water developments and pine thinning to benefit natural spring flow. Most recently Dave was working with the NRCS to recruit more snags for nesting birds and animals. The first Wyoming Wildlife Natural Resources Trust (WWNRT) project funded in Weston County was on the Angle N Ranch. Dave completed this project, the Fadil Canyon Water Development, by partnering with the WWNRT and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Using gravity, water from a spring was piped over a mile to a dry upland to better distribute livestock grazing and provide water for wildlife. As former Newcastle game warden Dustin Shorma stated, "Dave always did everything on his place with wildlife in mind, he loved to hunt and was a great supporter of the Game and Fish Department."