MISSOULA, Mont.—Opened for hunters, protected from developers—permanently. An extraordinary new conservation easement has accomplished exactly that on the 2,800-acre Flying A Ranch in the Big Horn Mountains 50 miles northwest of Casper, Wyo.The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation helped make it happen by teaming with two other funding partners led by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
“This was a special project because the written agreement with the landowner ensures public hunting access from September through December each year. This, in turn, enhances public access to several thousand more acres of BLM lands that adjoin the Flying A Ranch,” said David Allen, Elk Foundation president and CEO.
The ranch is year-round elk habitat. Biologists estimate 300 head consistently use the property and about 100 calves are born there each year. Approximately half of the ranch is considered crucial winter range.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will work with the landowner to manage public hunting access. Basically, the easement allows vehicular access on existing ranch roads, and foot or horseback access elsewhere, from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31.
Other funding partners included the NRCS Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program and the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Account Board.A conservation easement is an agreement that restricts development and subdivision while retaining agricultural, historic and wildlife values of land. Easements remain in place even if the land changes hands in the future, and provisions are monitored annually.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.4 million acres—a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.