Regional Offices > Cody Region > Cody Region News > Manderson family recognized as 2020 Landowner of the Year for the Big Horn Basin

Manderson family recognized as 2020 Landowner of the Year for the Big Horn Basin

November 25, 2020
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Cody - John and Nancy Joyce of Manderson were recently recognized as Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s landowner of the year for the Big Horn Basin. 

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.

Erin Leonetti, statewide fish passage biologist nominated the Joyces.  “John and Nancy Joyce exemplify the kind of landowners who want to conserve and protect Wyoming’s wildlife and Game and Fish is proud to recognize them,” Leonetti said.

John and Nancy Joyce's property is located east of Manderson on the Nowood River. The species rich Nowood River meanders through their property for seven miles supporting a cold and warm water fishery.  The Nowood River supports up to twenty different species of fish including sauger, burbot, flathead chub, mountain sucker and smallmouth bass, to name a few.  The Joyce family has over three river miles of the Nowood River enrolled as a walk-in fishing area and 371 acres enrolled in as a walk-in hunt area to hunt antelope and deer.

John and Nancy Joyce manage their property with the help of their sons. The family maintains 1,500 acres of land where they graze sheep and grow crops using water from the Harmony Ditch diversion off the Nowood River.  In 2006 and 2007 an entrainment study was completed that estimated over 55,000 fish were entrained into the Harmony Ditch each irrigation season and permanently lost from the Nowood River fishery.  

“The Joyces are conservation minded and wanted to prevent the loss of fish down their canal, allow for year round passage in the Nowood River, and eliminate annual maintenance to divert water,” Leonetti said. “They collaborated with Game and Fish to develop solutions to meet these goals and a project was designed that improved fish passage and sediment transport, reduced fish entrainment and annual maintenance, and stabilized approximately 1200 feet of streambank.”

“The fish passage project was met with significant challenges and setbacks along the way,” Leonetti said. “Through all the trials and tribulations however, the Joyce’s never wavered in their support and persevered to complete this project.”

Photo caption: John and Nancy Joyce were recognized as the Cody Region Landowner of the Year at a banquet following the September Game and Fish Commission meeting in Thermopolis. From left to right: Governor Mark Gordon, John Joyce, Nancy Joyce, Nick Scribner, Fish Passage Coordinator, Brian Nesvik, Director of Wyoming Game and Fish Department.  

- WGFD -

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