Four landowners receive awards recognizing their commitment to hunting and fishing access

The program honors Wyoming landowners who provide access to or through their lands to hunters and anglers

1/21/2020 8:56:53 PM

Cheyenne - Four Wyoming landowners are recipients of the 2019 Access Recognition Program award. The program honors Wyoming landowners who provide access to or through their lands to hunters and anglers.

Each year, the Wyoming Board of Agriculture and the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission partner to recognize four landowners who contribute significantly to the hunting and fishing tradition of the Cowboy State. In addition to recognition at the winter Stock Growers Association luncheon, each landowner received a check for $2,000. The 2019 recipients were recently recognized and presented their awards at the Wyoming Stock Growers Association awards luncheon in Casper.

Landowners who received recognition for 2019 were: 

Booth Land and Livestock is an extensive cattle and hay ranch in western Albany County owned by Mark and Gary Booth of Lucerne, Colorado, with Nick Speiser  as ranch manager. The property totals 113,000 acres, comprised of 77,000 deeded acres plus numerous landlocked BLM and state leases. The vast majority of their properties are enrolled in the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Access Yes programs, providing large portions of four different hunter management areas and one walk-in hunting area. These access areas provide quality hunting for elk, antelope and waterfowl; most have been enrolled for more than fifteen years. Last fall alone, more than 1,000 permission slips were issued for Booth HMAs. The ranch also provides additional access to dozens of other hunters each season. Aside from being supportive of public hunting opportunities, the ranch continues to value quality habitat and they have completed a number of rangeland improvements, spring developments/water improvements, wildlife-friendly fence modifications, and they utilize progressive, sustainable grazing management practices.

Darrell and Duane Horton have several properties enrolled in Game and Fish Access Yes programs between Greybull and Burlington. They have been involved in the program for 14 years, providing access on 1,600 acres for mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, waterfowl, sandhill crane, dove and rabbit hunting throughout the fall and winter. The Horton’s property boasts quality habitat for wildlife, with cottonwood trees lining the Greybull River and fertile farmland with crops of corn, alfalfa and beans. By allowing access for hunters, Game and Fish has been able to better manage mule deer populations and reduce wildlife damage.

Prairie Dog Ranch is a hay and cattle operation owned by Jim and Rochelle Koltiska east of Sheridan. The ranch consists of approximately 1,200 acres of irrigated hay and grain fields and 3,400 acres of pasture land, with rolling hills and productive riparian zones. The ranch provides quality habitat for both livestock and antelope, white-tailed deer, mule deer, wild turkey, ducks, geese, cranes, eagles and upland game birds. In addition to two creeks, the ranch also has several reservoirs that provide aquatic habitat for wildlife and fish. In years past, the Koltiska Family experienced significant wildlife damage to crops, fences and stored hay. Some years, it was estimated that 250 to 300 white-tailed deer were on hay and grain fields every night. With  changes in practice and allowing big game hunting, they reduced damage to crops. In 2018 hunters harvested at least 138 animals on the Prairie Dog Ranch, including over 100 white-tailed deer.

The Bugas Family allows hunting access on 4,000 acres of excellent mule deer, elk, moose, and antelope habitat in Uinta County. The Bugas have been enrolled with the Access Yes program for many years, and encouraged neighboring landowners to participate, creating one of the most productive walk-in hunting areas in the region. With their enthusiasm and negotiation with neighbors, Game and Fish was able to enroll a second walk-in area .  Both walk-in areas provide opportunity to hunters from early season archery antelope hunting to late season elk. The areas are popular and hunting success is high.

Funding for the Access Recognition Program is provided by the sale of commissioner licenses and donations made specifically in support of the award.  

Wyoming Game and Fish Cody Region Access Coordinator Jordan Winter said the Access Recognition Program is a way to show appreciation for landowners who allow sportsmen and women on their property to hunt or fish. 

“We extend a hearty thank you to these landowners. Thanks to them there are more places for individuals and families to get outside to enjoy wildlife and hunt and fish in Wyoming, in addition to helping Game and Fish manage the state’s wildlife resources,” Winter said.

Access Yes is a program that facilitates the partnership between private landowners, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and hunters and anglers to create free public hunting and fishing access on private land and inaccessible public land. These include walk-in fishing and hunting areas, hunter management areas and other Game and Fish public access areas. The program is supported through donations from the public and organizations. Each dollar donated to Access Yes equates to approximately 3.1 acres of public access. 

This year, Access Yes is celebrating 20 years of partnering with landowners to provide public hunting and fishing access opportunities. Currently there are 58 walk-in fishing areas, 331 walk-in hunting areas and 59 hunter management areas throughout Wyoming. In 2019, department funding and private donations provided more than 2.8 million acres of hunting access on otherwise inaccessible private, state and landlocked public lands and 4,007 lake acres and 89 stream miles were provided for fishing.

(Sara DiRienzo (307-777-4540))

- WGFD -

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