Wyoming Game and Fish recognizes Landowners of the Year
Grindstone Cattle Company- Maggie Miller among landowners recognized
by Wyoming Game and Fish
July 25, 2011
Close to 50 percent of Wyoming is private land and much of that land provides quality habitat for wildlife, increasing hunting and fishing opportunities. Often that habitat is improved by private landowners providing enhanced experiences for Wyoming sportsmen.
Each year, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department presents its Landowners of the Year awards, recognizing Wyoming landowners in each region who have demonstrated a commitment to wildlife management, habitat improvement, and conservation practices. The landowners were honored at a banquet in Sheridan as part of the recently completed meeting of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.
"These landowners deserve a thank you for recognizing the importance of wildlife and wildlife habitat in the management of their operations," said Game and Fish Director Scott Talbott. "We recognize the contributions of landowners in providing wildlife habitat on private lands."
Jackson/Pinedale Region: Grindstone Cattle Company – Maggie Miller Owner
The Grindstone Cattle Company near Daniel is an example of balance between livestock and wildlife and resources and economics. Owner Maggie Miller’s cattle operation includes management of over 17,000 acres of private land as well as another 26,000 acres of adjacent BLM and State lands. She is very hands-on with daily operations of this ranch which is divided into the Scott, Duke, and Todd Places, all named for their homesteading history. Her management strategies are also focused on improving the riparian health on her lands. Nine miles of the Green River are included on her Todd and Scott places. Maggie’s acreage is included in the Sommers-Grindstone Conservation Easement and Public Access Project conserving seasonal range for a variety of wildlife including moose, sage grouse, elk, pronghorn, waterfowl, and area carnivores. Public access for fishing is also provided on the Green River. She frequently allows access to Wyoming Game and Fish Department personnel for population inventories such as sage grouse lek surveys. Additionally, the Grindstone Cattle Company undergoes intensive management for brucellosis testing on cattle. Maggie has cooperatively worked with NRCS to complete a thorough resource inventory in 2008 and 2009. This helped design her current conservation plan, facilitating her livestock grazing in balance with her other objectives for land use.
Casper Region: Angle N Ranch – Newcastle, David Nahrgang (posthumously) Owner
The legacy one leaves to benefit wildlife and wild places often transcends a man’s life. Such is the case with David Nahrgang, owner of the Angle N Ranch located just north of Newcastle. Over the past 25 years under his guidance, the ranch has become a model for wildlife improvement. Dave’s life was recently taken after a short bout with cancer, but the conservation work he started will continue to enhance wildlife habitats for years to come.
Under his guidance, work was done to improve natural spring flows and to improve habitats for nesting birds and game and nongame animals. He actively worked with state and federal agencies, conservation groups and others to improve the wildlife habitat on his property. Working with the Wyoming Wildlife Natural Resources Trust and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, water from a spring was piped over a mile to dry upland areas to better distribute livestock grazing and provide water for wildlife. Former Newcastle game warden Dustin Shorma said, "Dave loved to hunt and did everything on his place with wildlife in mind."
Cody Region: Cody Region – Bales Brothers Ranch – Cody, Art and Shirley Bales, Owners
The Bales Brothers Ranch is a family owned 5,000 acre cattle ranch located at the base of Carter Mountain in the South Fork of the Shoshone River Valley near Cody. Wyoming. Always being good stewards and custodians of the fragile South Fork rangeland, Art and Shirley Bales have remained vigilant. Their livestock grazing practices keep their cattle dispersed throughout the summer and fall, avoiding fragile riparian areas and watersheds. Elk have been the real beneficiary of the family’s grazing practices, as their ranch is included in one of the premier trophy bull elk hunting areas in Wyoming. In 1993 the Bales family teamed with neighboring ranches and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to manage this elk herd under the trophy management status. Since that time, elk hunters have harvested numerous trophy class bulls on and around their ranch each year. The Bales family has also enrolled their property in the Carter Mountain Hunter Management Area. This has allowed both resident and nonresident hunters the opportunity to access their property at no charge. They have not only quietly passed on their work ethic to the family, but also their appreciation for the wildlife, the hunting tradition, and providing open spaces for wildlife to roam.
Green River Region: – Anadarko Land Corporation – Woodland, TX
Anadarko Land Corporation owns and manages a large percentage of the private checkerboard sections from Rawlins to Evanston. Their partnerships support local agriculture and a wide diversity of sagebrush obligate species. The corporation has shown increased commitment to surface resource values and wildlife. They recently removed over thirteen miles of woven wire sheep fence that was a significant barrier to pronghorn migration. It was replaced with a four strand wildlife-friendly fence. Increased movement and use of traditional pronghorn range that had been prevented by the old fence design was immediately noted. Within the Granger lease and other nearby allotments, Anadarko has also made some dramatic improvements to range and wildlife habitat which was suffering from long-term drought and intensive grazing. Based on local expert advice, Anadarko is employing rest periods for these areas. A significant number of hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts benefit from the open space provided by a combination of Anadarko and BLM lands. Without this commitment, an extremely large area would have very limited access for hunting and other forms of wildlife related recreation.
Lander Region: – Smith Meadow Ranch – Rawlins, Donna Smith, Owner
The Smith Meadow Ranch is located in Elk Area 118, and was historically void of elk. It is now home to a diversity of wildlife which includes elk, mule deer, sage grouse, and many other non-game species. The Rawlins area ranch has always been open to sportsmen who ask permission. In 2001, they enrolled 475 acres in the Department’s access program, providing access to over 1,500 acres of adjacent BLM and State lands for combined access of more than 2,000 acres. They allow hunting of deer, elk, pronghorn, and small game, and support the public access program wholeheartedly. As a conscientious landowner, Donna is always concerned about the amount of grazing the land receives. It is evident that the cattle are managed thoughtfully with a mind toward stewardship of the land. In partnership with the NRCS and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Smiths constructed a solar well on the property that provides water to the abundant wildlife as well as cattle on the ranch. Donna and her son, Don Ray, have actively worked to enhance lands they own and lease to the benefit of all. Over the years they have demonstrated stewardship of the land and its resources, and have been strong supporters of wildlife.
Laramie Region: – Flying 7 Ranch – Wheatland, Gary and Karen Ricley, Owners
Gary and Karen Ricley, owners of the Flying 7 Ranch began working closely with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in the late 1990’s. They have enhanced their Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands for wildlife by planting over 2,000 trees and shrubs. Today, their ranch is home to a variety of wildlife. Their plantings of shrubs and trees provides winter cover for upland game birds and a wildlife watering facility supported by their house well is also heavily utilized by birds, small mammals, and pronghorn. These projects were completed in cooperation with the USDA, Pheasants Forever Chug Creek Chapter, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Habitat Extension Services program. The Ricleys have worked together as a team to put their habitat projects on the ground and actively manage their CRP acres. They have also planted a diverse mix of grass and legume species resulting in high use by wildlife. In addition, all fences on their property were recently converted to wildlife friendly standards. The Ricleys have participated in the Department’s Walk-In Area program since 2002 and allow department-managed hunting for upland birds and big game on their land. In 2010, they added ring-necked pheasant access to their Walk-In Area and allowed the Game and Fish to schedule regular bird releases which has provided important hunter access in the area.
Sheridan Region: X¬—X Ranch – Parkman, Patti Manigault, Owner,David and Kathy Hannahs, Ranch Managers
Owner Patti Manigault and ranch managers David and Kathy Hannahs of the X—X Ranch near Parkman, are the Sheridan region award recipients. The X—X Ranch borders the north and east sides of the Kerns Wildlife Habitat Management Area (WHMA.) The Kerns WHMA is home to mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, and upland birds, and it winters approximately 650 elk. Throughout the spring and fall months, up to 400 elk may be found on the ranch. David Hannahs has modified his ranch management plan to accommodate the elk. He has purposely delayed grazing southern areas of the ranch bordering the WHMA, to allow more grass to be available for elk. Following Mother Nature’s example, David changed the gestation of his herd for calving in late May and early June saving time and money. His progressive practices have benefitted the areas upland bird and deer populations through water management by making water developments a high priority. Fence changes have led to a more efficient pasture rotation scheme, leaving more forage for wildlife. The ranch has also scaled back on its haying operation providing more cover for nesting grouse, pheasants, and turkeys. Patti Manigault has been very active in preserving open spaces and valuable wildlife habitats in perpetuity. To date, 6,756 acres of development have been donated to limited conservation easements in Sheridan County.