CHEYENNE - Each year, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department recognizes as Landowners of the Year those who have made exemplary efforts related to wildlife management and habitat improvement on private land. These landowners, through their conservation efforts and by allowing access, have contributed to the effective management of wildlife on public and private land. Recipients demonstrate ethical use and stewardship of Wyoming’s natural resources.
The 2012 Landowners of the Year were honored at a July 9 dinner at Silver Spur Ranch (Elk Hollow Lodge) near Saratoga. Scott Talbott, director of Game and Fish, welcomed landowners and guests, and Michael Healy, president of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, addressed attendees before the awards presentation.
To see a gallery of images of the Landowners of the Year and their ranches, visit wgfd.wyo.gov.
George Southworth (landowner), JY Ranch
The JY Ranch comprises more than 14,000 acres in the rugged Richeau Hills of the southern Laramie Range, as well as more than 1,300 acres along the Laramie River northwest of Wheatland. The property includes a two-mile stretch of the Laramie River dominated by mature cottonwoods, adjacent flood-irrigated native hay-meadow habitats, and two sections of pivot-irrigated alfalfa.
In 2008, the JY Ranch invited the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to conduct a full comprehensive range inventory and develop a grazing plan. The plan includes a rotational grazing schedule to improve riparian (places where land and water converge) habitats on the ranch. In drought years such as 2012, the JY Ranch’s conservative management of rangeland resources has resulted in abundant forage remaining for wildlife use. In such years, many other surrounding properties were able to leave little standing forage. Riparian habitats on the ranch have improved since the grazing plan was implemented. Stream bank erosion has diminished and banks have filled in with woody species (such as willows) along Deadhead Creek that provide shade and cover for terrestrial and aquatic wildlife.
Steve and Susan Pokorny (landowner), Pokorny Ranch
Steve and Susan Pokorny raise cattle on their ranch in Lyons Valley near the towns of Lander and Hudson. The Pokorny Ranch borders state, Bureau of Land Management and private lands. The Pokornys bought the ranch in 1990. It comprises roughly 3,000 acres of deeded ground and includes thousands of acres in state and federal grazing leases. Steve and Susan’s children Flint Pokorny and Timmery Hellyer assist in operating the ranch, as well as Timmery’s husband, Jim, and their children Maclean and Joseph.
The Pokornys understand wildlife and its habitat needs. As they’ve made improvements to their ranch, they consistently consider wildlife use. They have incorporated electric fencing to allow big game animals to negotiate around alfalfa fields, reducing potential fence injuries to deer and pronghorn while also decreasing fence maintenance.
The Pokorny family maintains a deeply rooted and long-standing tradition of hunting and fishing. They enjoy participating in wildlife and habitat management on their land and exercising their privilege to hunt deer, pronghorn, sage grouse and pheasants as a family.
Green River Region
Gene Carrico (landowner), Dexter Peak Ranch
The Dexter Peak Ranch is located south of Rawlins along the East Fork of Savery Creek, tributary to High Savery Reservoir. The ranch borders United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, state and private lands. The ranch includes nearly 7,500 acres of deeded and private lands, as well as approximately three miles of streams supporting core conservation populations of native Colorado River cutthroat trout. Both Dirtyman Fork and Hatch Creek house distinct, genetically pure populations of Colorado River cutthroat. The Carrico family has been instrumental in safeguarding these populations against the threat of non-native brook trout, which out-compete cutthroat trout and have contributed to population declines throughout the Colorado River cutthroat’s range.
For decades, the Carricos have actively cooperated with Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service efforts to conserve Colorado River cutthroat populations. The ranch maintains several on- and off-channel ponds to provide fishing opportunities for ranch guests. Gene Carrico worked with Game and Fish to develop a management plan to guide stocking in the ranch’s waters to benefit both the ranch and Colorado River cutthroat conservation efforts.
Ryan and Teresa Fieldgrove (landowners), Fieldgrove Ranch
Ryan and Teresa Fieldgrove and their children, Anna, Tommy and Elisa, run a cow/calf operation on 10,000 acres of private, state and Bureau of Land Management land 20 miles northeast of Buffalo. The Fieldgrove children are the fifth generation to live and work on the ranch.
Ryan took over a share of the ranch in 1999 when his parents retired. As he considered conservation efforts on the ranch, he realized the most successful ranches seemed to be those with grass left over each year. He realized that adopting innovative conservation practices would save the ranch time, labor and money. These concepts have guided the Fieldgroves’ management decisions for the past 14 years.
The Fieldgrove Ranch has excellent mule deer, pronghorn, sage grouse, gray partridge, sharp-tailed grouse and waterfowl habitat. Nine sage grouse leks occur on the ranch. The Fieldgroves participation in the Lake DeSmet Conservation District sage grouse habitat enhancement program benefited the ranch operation and wildlife habitat, especially for species that depend on sagebrush. The Fieldgroves invited Game and Fish to conduct resource mapping and wildlife habitat inventories to develop a grazing management plan. The grazing management plan incorporates management best practices such as wildlife-friendly fences and water troughs with wildlife escape ramps.
Judy Boeckmann (landowner), Dead Shot Ranch
Maggie Miller (landowner), Grindstone Cattle Company
Zack and Patti Roberts (landowners), Roberts Cattle Company
Mike and Tara Miller (landowners), Miller Land and Livestock
Doug and Lynda Vickrey (landowners), Vickrey Ranch
Frank and Ann Nataros (landowners), Beaver Creek Ranch
Norman and Barbara Pape (landowners), Pape Ranches Inc.
JJ and Julia Healy (landowners), Double J Ranch
Wagstaff family (owners/managers), Wagstaff Ranch
Freddie and Amanda Botur (landowners), Cottonwood Ranches
A group of Sublette County landowners developed a partnership with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the University of Wyoming, and the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to initiate a research project on the state’s largest moose population. The partnership resulted in the first effort of moose research conducted primarily on private property in the state. Never before have so many landowners focused their interests on the welfare of Shiras moose in Sublette County.
Research began in 2011 and has continued over the past three years. The landowners granted unrestricted access to their property for researchers to capture moose, collect habitat data, refuel helicopters, and retrieve radio collars. The landowners’ long-term participation in the management of moose and their habitats contributed to the success of the project.
Wasim and Helen Hassan (landowners), James and Kendra Stuart (managers), 91 Ranch
Craig and Eric Geving; Bob and Mona Model (landowners), M C Land and Cattle
Ronee and Mike Hogg (landowners), Hogg’s Black Diamond Cattle
Allen Hogg (landowner), Lazy BV Cattle
Larsen family (landowners), Rich and Abby Herman (managers), Larsen Ranch Co.
Dr. Lenox Baker and Greg Luce (landowners), Dan and Darcy Morris (managers), Pitchfork Ranch
The Hunter Management Access Program was established in the Cody Region in 2011. In order to effectively manage elk herds and monitor brucellosis, participation by all landowners was key. Landowners in elk hunt areas 61, 62 and 63 allowed the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to bring hunters from the public onto their property for cow/calf elk harvest. Participation by all landowners in the Hunter Management Access Program enabled access to nearly 94,000 acres of land and allowed 187 antlerless elk to be harvested during the 2012-2013 season. Over 350 brucellosis samples were collected and relationships between landowners and the public were strengthened. Game and Fish and hunters who participated appreciate each landowner’s cooperation and understanding the Hunter Management Access Program’s value.
Eastgate Ranch LLC
As a result of careful management and stewardship of its lands, Eastgate Ranch LLC has rich and diverse habitat,which not only supports its cattle operation, but an array of wildlife including deer, elk and antelope.
The ranch, known for raising Red Angus-Charolais cross cattle, has grown considerably over the years. Today the Eastgate Ranch LLC contains nearly 40,000 acres of deeded and public lands in Natrona and Carbon County.
Eastgate Ranch LLC has participated in the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Private Lands Public Wildlife access program since 2007. Nearly 16,000 deeded acres have been enrolled in the Hat Six and Muddy Mountain hunter management areas near Casper. Deeded acres making up the hunter management areas are surrounded by over 20,000 public land acres that are also accessible to hunters. In addition, the Eastgate Ranch LLC has enrolled 850 acres in Game and Fish walk-in areas.
Eastgate Ranch LLC lands have been popular with hunters, receiving some of the heaviest use among all of the hunter management areas throughout Wyoming, because of the superb wildlife habitat and hunting opportunities for mule deer, elk and antelope. In areas where hunting access is limited, opportunities such as those made available to the public by Eastgate Ranch LLC are priceless. Hunter access to Eastgate Ranch LLC has been vital to the department’s efforts to manage big game herds according to its objectives.
Eastgate Ranch LLC received this recognition for the many years its owners have demonstrated support and dedication to providing hunting opportunities on its private lands to the public.
(Contact: Amber Leberman, 307-777-3543)