MISSOULA, Mont. – The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation have partnered to conserve a northeast Wyoming landmark with two conservation easements totaling 2,166 acres. The HF Bar Ranch, the second oldest guest ranch in the country, supports a family business, working ranchlands and critical wildlife habitat.
The HF Bar Ranch is located along the face of the Big Horn Range 15 miles from Buffalo, Wyo., at Saddlestring. The iconic landscape is part of the Rock Creek watershed and home to elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, mountain lions and antelope.
The Nature Conservancy and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation worked together to fundraise for and purchase a conservation easement on 1,950 acres of the ranch. The Nature Conservancy will hold the easement. At the same time, the ranch owner, Margi Schroth, donated a 216-acre easement on the property. A conservation easement is an important tool that prevents development while protecting landscapes, as well as the agriculture and conservation values.
“This conservation easement helps permanently protect crucial habitat for elk and other wildlife, says Leah Burgess,” Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation lands program manager in Wyoming. ”It’s hard to describe the incredible beauty and outstanding historical and natural resource values of this place. Development is fast encroaching along the eastern front of the Bighorn Mountains in northeast Wyoming. The HF Bar Ranch is adjacent to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Bud Love Wildlife Habitat Management Area and the Bighorn National Forest, providing contiguous habitat that is so important for wildlife, and for maintaining the open landscape people appreciate.”
”The Nature Conservancy is thrilled to play a role in protecting one of the most important areas near the Big Horn Mountains for nature and people,” says the Conservancys Northeast Wyoming program director, Rick Pallister. ”The easements ensure wildlife have a safe migratory corridor. Our partnership protects critical places wildlife need to survive, as well as a long-standing family business.”
Many groups provided funding for the effort, including one unusual source.
“When our guests heard what we were doing to protect the ranch, they jumped in enthusiastically to help raise money,” says HF Bar Ranch owner, Margi Schroth. “Our ranch has been a place where families create amazing memories for many generations. The HF Bar Ranch is held deep in the hearts of many, many people.”
“This easement agreement will enable the HF Bar Ranch to continue into the next 100 years bringing together people from all over the world. It is the single most satisfying moment of my career to know that these lands will remain unchanged forever,” Schroth adds.
Other funders for this project include the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, Natural Resources Conservation Services, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Mule Deer Foundation, Wyoming Governors Big Game Coalition and Wyoming WildlifeThe Foundation.