2015 Landowners of the Year

The Landowner of the Year award is presented to Wyoming landowners who have demonstrated outstanding practices in wildlife management, habitat improvement, and conservation techniques on their properties. These landowners also cooperate with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to provide access to hunters and anglers on their properties. Award recipients are nominated by any department employee and selected by the regional leadership teams as model citizens for the conservation, ethical use, and stewardship of Wyoming’s natural resources.


Casper Region

Ranch Name:  Garrett Ranch
Landowners:  The Garrett Family

The Garrett Ranch is located 30 miles south of Casper, Wyoming in Natrona County.  Pete’s Father (Labon Garrett), Grandfather (Henry Garrett) and Uncle (Adron Garrett), bought the first 2,000 acres of the ranch in 1937. 
The Garrett Ranch operation involves the entire family including Pete and Ethel Garrett, their children and grandchildren.  Each family has a residence on the ranch and all are actively involved in the daily operations.  The ranch family includes their son Steve, his wife Kim and son’s Tyler and Dalton and their daughter Laura and her husband Jack Miles.

The Garrett Ranch has employed numerous stewardship practices on their deeded and leased lands for the long-term benefit of their lands, their livestock operation and wildlife habitats.  The Garrett’s have long been enrolled in a rotational grazing system designed in concert with natural resource professionals for the benefit of their rangelands and wildlife habitat.  The ranch has implemented three innovative stewardship practices that include utilizing beaver and installing “insta-dams” to restore riparian vegetation and slow erosion within the Bolton Creek watershed, applying Plateau® herbicide and using a naturally occurring soil bacterium to control cheatgrass infestations, and installing several miles of wildlife friendly fences to create smaller livestock pastures.
Congratulations to the Garrett Family as the recipients of the 2015 Casper Region Landowner of the Year Award!

Cody Region

Ranch Name:  Ballinger Rocking R Ranch
Landowners: Merlyn and Virginia Ballinger
Merlyn and Virginia Ballinger own the Ballinger Rocking R Ranch, located on the North Fork of the Shoshone River 25 miles west of Cody and a small farm south of Powell.

Since the late 1990’s, Merlyn and Virginia have been very active in providing opportunities for disabled hunters on and off their property.  The Rocking R Ranch has provided an excellent opportunity for disabled hunters.  Many physically challenged hunters, including some who are legally blind, have successfully harvested animals on the ranch.  
The Ballinger’s have taken an active interest in resource management education, offering their ranch as an “outdoor classroom” for high school and college students to learn about the real opportunities and challenges of land and wildlife management today in Wyoming. 

Merlyn and Virginia’s stewardship of their land doesn’t stop at their fences.  They have truly used their land for the benefit of the community, especially focusing on the personal dimension.  There are many who can say their lives were positively impacted because of the Ballinger’s willingness to use their land for the good of people.

We are proud to have the Ballingers as the 2015 Cody Region Landowner of the Year!

Green River Region

Ranch Name:  Kaisler Cattle
Landowners:  Todd and Darcy Kaisler Family
The Kaisler’s run a cow-calf operation on private, state and federal lands in southwest Carbon County.  The Kaisler Ranch provides excellent habitat for mule deer, pronghorn, Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, elk, and a multitude of nongame species.  It is not uncommon to see their cattle grazing in their meadows alongside mule deer, white-tailed deer and pronghorn. They ensure adequate forage for wildlife remains during and following their use, and move their livestock to accommodate a wide variety of wildlife species.
The entire Kaisler Ranch provides quality habitat for a variety of wildlife.  A portion of their private property has been enrolled in the Access Yes program for 10 years. Their access area is located on the north side of Battle Mountain and permits easy access to thousands of acres for those in pursuit of elk, deer and pronghorn.
Members of the Kaisler family have a wide variety of interests, well beyond a simple focus on maximizing their calf production.  They are very interested in wildlife, and are avid outdoorsman, as well. Fishing and hunting are a large part of the family’s lifestyle.  Often times the Kaisler children can be found fishing alongside their grandparents in the Sierra Madres.
Due to the many wildlife, sportsman, and community contributions made by this deserving ranching family, it is with pleasure to designate them as the Green River Region 2015 Landowner of the Year recipient.

Laramie Region

Ranch Name:  ZN Ranch
Landowners:  George and Susan Williams & Christopher and Kate Williams
The ZN Ranch lies to the west of Elk Mountain proper; where the sagebrush covered foothills meet the meandering meadows along Pass Creek.  This picturesque landscape is home to a myriad of wildlife species.  It is also home to the Williams Family.  George and Susan Williams, and their son Chris and his wife Kate, manage the ZN’s cow-calf operation, as partners in the Tetrad Corporation.
Over the decades they have been ranching on the ZN, the Williams family has strived to enhance the landscape for the benefit of both cattle and wildlife.  Their commitment to ensuring this land passes from one generation to the next, in better condition than when they themselves took on its stewardship, is an underlying theme in their management decisions for the ZN Ranch.George, now semi-retired, has always been interested in using different treatment techniques to enhance the productivity of the rangeland.  Over the years, George conducted several prescribed burns, applied herbicides, and used sagebrush rollers to stimulate new vegetation growth.  George is quick to point out that he didn’t always see the type of response he was seeking but it did not dampen his enthusiasm for trying new management techniques and building on what he had learned would work on the ranch.  Chris now runs the day to day operations of the ZN, and he is carrying forward his father’s interest in improving range conditions on a grand scale.

The Williams family exhibits a high level of land stewardship and concern for wildlife and their habitat, making them more than deserving of the Laramie Region Landowner of the year.

Pinedale Region

Ranch Name:  Rolling Thunder and Rim Ranches
Landowners:  Tim and Tina Delaney
Tim and Tina Delaney are landowners who are dedicated to wildlife habitat. Their Rolling Thunder and Rim Ranches  properties are located on “The Rim,” the hydrographic divide between the Green and Hoback River drainages, just south of Bondurant.
Both properties intersect a significant portion of the recently acclaimed Red Desert to Hoback mule deer migration as well as provide important fawning, summer and transitional habitat used by mule deer that winter on the Pinedale Anticline winter range.   
Their land also provides habitat for a significant population of elk, moose and pronghorn that use the property at various times throughout the year.  Tim’s respect for aspen as a valuable component of wildlife habitat was a driving force behind the purchase of this property.     
Tim has been actively involved with conducting vegetation treatments that align with the Department’s Sublette Mule Deer Initiative.  Aspen treatments have occurred on several hundred acres of the ranch.  The treatments have primarily included chainsaw removal of conifers that are encroaching aspen stands.  Additionally, in 2015 Tim allowed Department personnel to conduct experimental aspen root ripping methodology on several stands on the Ranch to stimulate young aspen suckers.
For these reasons and more, we are pleased to announce Tim and Tina Delaney as the Pinedale Region Landowner of the Year!

Sheridan Region

Ranch Name:  Sunlight Ranch Company
Landowners:  Carol Holding, Kathleen Holding & Ron Hossfeld
The Holding family first started ranching in Wyoming in 1983, when Earl and Carol Holding purchased the Bugas Ranch in Park County and the Twin Creek Ranch in Sheridan County.  A few years later, they added the Little Horn Ranch along the East Face of the Bighorn Mountains.

Earl Holding personally directed nearly every detail at Sunlight Ranch until November 2007, when he entrusted the management of the ranch to Justin Hossfeld. As General Manager, Justin has worked with Kathleen Holding to steadfastly continue her father’s passion for maintaining wide-open spaces as well as being responsible stewards of the land.  The farming and grazing practices implemented by the personnel at the ranch, maximize the potential for livestock production while minimizing impact to the landscape.  Even during dry years, it is difficult to determine which pastures were used by livestock and which were not.
Having exceptional wildlife habitat means some conservation measures must take place in order to manage wildlife numbers.  Several years ago, the Ranch initiated a youth hunting program which allows young and first-time hunters a chance to take a big game animal.  Each year, dozens of kids from all over have the opportunity to take their first deer, pronghorn, or turkey courtesy of the Sunlight Ranch.
We are more than pleased to nominate the Holding family and the entire team at Sunlight Ranch for the Sheridan Region Landowner of the Year Award!
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