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Resources for Landowners


BUSINESS PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT 

Stewardship begins with a profitable enterprise that allows for investments back into the business and health of the land. Several resources and training opportunities exist to develop agricultural business skills. In Wyoming, many ranchers have benefited from the High Plains Ranch Practicum and the Ranching for Profit School.

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The High Plains Ranch Practicum is a multiday training program to develop skills and management tools for the ranching industry 

The Ranching for Profit School provides in-depth training in managing a ranching enterprise including business planning, resource management, and family considerations such as succession planning


CANDIDATE CONSERVATION AGREEMENTS WITH ASSURANCES (CCAAS)

CCAAs are voluntary agreements between landowners and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to proactively protect wildlife species of concern. If the landowners follow the terms of the agreement, they are free from additional regulatory restrictions under the Endangered Species Act should the species of concern become listed as threatened or endangered in the future.

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Wyoming landowners interested in entering into a CCAA should contact the Wyoming Ecological Services office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Their website provides additional information about CCAAs, including a template document and answers to frequently asked questions. 

Additional information on CCAAs is available on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s website and their associated fact sheet.


CONSERVATION EASEMENTS

Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements between a landowner and a conservation organization or government agency that limit residential development on a property while maintaining agricultural production. Financial incentives may be available, and some landowners have strategically incorporated conservation easements into their estate and succession plans or used incentives to expand operations. 

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Conservation Easements in Wyoming from Western Confluence magazine provides a snap shot of eight Wyoming properties with conservation easements at work.

The Land Trust Alliance’s Find a Land Trust” website provides contact information for local land trusts in each state and organizations operating nationally. Land trusts are organizations qualified to hold conservation easements and can provide landowners with the most up-to-date information on potential financial incentives and the process involved in granting a conservation easement on their property.

Wyoming Conservation Easements: Lands, Services, and Economic Benefits published by the Ruckelshaus Institute, provides an overview of the public benefits of conservation easements in Wyoming provide to Wyoming residents.

Conservation Easements: An open spaces protection tool worth reforming” from Western Confluence magazine addresses the history of conservation easements and provides context on potential legal changes to the tool in the future

UW Extension and the UW Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics provides information, workshops, and individual assistance in succession planning. Publications, web-based courses, and case studies on a range of estate and succession issues are available online.

The Wyoming Department of Agriculture’s Mediation Program assists families in exploring estate and succession planning options and working through potential disagreements in an open, honest, and confidential way. 


ESTATE AND SUCCESSION PLANNING

Transitioning agricultural enterprises to the next generation of land stewards can be a significant challenge for many families and requires advanced planning. Resources available through UW Extension and the Wyoming Department of Agriculture’s Mediation Program can help families work through the issues and provide guidance on the documents necessary to implement estate and succession plans.

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UW Extension and the UW Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics provides information, workshops, and individual assistance in succession planning. Publications, web-based courses, and case studies on a range of estate and succession issues are available online.

The Wyoming Department of Agriculture’s Mediation Program assists families in exploring estate and succession planning options and working through potential disagreements in an open, honest, and confidential way. 


HABITAT MARKETS

Markets are emerging in which landowners can conserve habitat and receive payments from entities seeking to mitigate impacts at another location. Given the many technical aspects of these new opportunities, landowners with significant wildlife resources should work with qualified consultants to assist them in the process. 

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“Species Conservation Banking and Habitat Exchanges” from the Western Landowners Alliance provides a succinct discussion on the opportunities and risks to landowners considering participating in emerging habitat markets.

Habitat Exchange: A New Tool to Engage Landowners in Conservation from the Sand County Foundation and the Environmental Policy Innovation Center describes the current state of one form of a habitat market called a “habitat exchange.” While still a new tool that faces policy challenges and needs additional research on effectiveness, habitat exchanges hold significant promise. 

Market-based Wildlife Mitigation in Wyoming: A Primer , published by the Ruckelshaus Institute, provides an overview of different market approaches to conserving wildlife in Wyoming. 


IRRIGATION AND WATER RIGHTS

Irrigation and water rights are critical to stewarding working lands in the West. Understanding water’s role in sustaining wildlife and recreational opportunities can inform landowners in managing their resources. For instance, subsurface water returning to the river after flood irrigation in the spring has been shown to maintain late summer flows for fisheries and boating.

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Water Rights in the West: What Every Landowner Needs to Know from the Western Landowners Alliance provides an overview of western water law in a short and easily accessible format.

Wyoming Small Acreage Irrigation from UW Extension summarizes how water rights are administered in Wyoming and provides guidance on how to manage ditches and irrigate. Although geared towards small-acreage properties, information may be helpful to all landowners in Wyoming with water rights.

“The True Value of Flood Irrigation” from Western Confluence magazine describes recent research on the connections between flood-irrigation practices and the maintenance of late-season flows for fisheries and boating.

“One Irrigator’s Waste is Another’s Supply” from Western Confluence magazine describes the catch-22 between increasing irrigation efficiency and the decline of groundwater and “return flows” back to the river that benefit the environment and downstream irrigators.


HUNTING AND FISHING ACCESS

Landowners can lease limited public access for hunting and fishing through the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s AccessYes Programs. Landowners looking for help in controlling game populations on their properties can also work with Wyoming Game and Fish to provide contact information to hunters looking for access. 

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Agreements with Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s AccessYes Programs can be limited to a single year or last up to five years. Annual payments range from $365 to $2,837 depending on the length of the agreement, whether access is for hunting or fishing, and the acreage or stream-length enrolled. Contact your regional Public Access Coordinator to explore opportunities on your land.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Hunter/Landowner Assistance Program matches hunters with landowners looking for help in controlling wildlife populations. Contact your regional Public Access Coordinator for more information.

New websites such as EntryG and Outrider (currently only in Texas) work similar to Airbnb, an online short-term lodging rental platform, by matching hunters with opportunities on private land. Landowners can list their properties, set a fee, and control availability for specific dates. Although these online platforms are new and currently have limited reach in the marketplace, they may become more common in the coming years. 


MINERAL LEASING AND SURFACE-USE AGREEMENTS

For properties with oil and gas resources, agricultural producers need to manage current or future resource development as part of the overall operation. It is important for landowners to seek expert advice when negotiating leases and surface-use agreements. The Western Landowners Alliance and the Southeastern Wyoming RC&D Council provide guidance on managing mineral developments.

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A primer on Oil and Gas Leases from the Western Landowners Alliance walks landowners through key issues to consider when negotiating oil and gas leases, including discussion on how surface use agreements can be used to ensure accommodation for existing land uses.

Landowner Guidelines for Negotiating a Mineral Lease or Surface Use Agreement from the Southeastern Wyoming Resource Conservation & Development Council provides practical guidance and resources specific to Wyoming landowners. 

For a brief overview and suggestions on leasing issues, “Understanding the Basics of an Oil and Gas Lease” from the Wyoming Livestock Roundup gives landowners a quick reference to considerations. 


MITIGATING LIVESTOCK-WILDLIFE CONFLICT

Large carnivores pose a significant threat to livestock where habitats and grazing areas overlap. Although there are no simple solutions, some strategies such as guard animals, herding, electric fencing, and use of fladry have been shown to be effective at minimizing conflicts in some situations.

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Reducing Conflict with Grizzly Bears, Wolves, and Elk: A Western Landowners’ Guide published by the Western Landowners Alliance shares experiences, stories, and best management practices for landowners and managers to prevent losses of both livestock and wildlife.

An electric fencing incentive program offered by Defenders of Wildlife reimburses landowners in eligible counties 50% of the cost of installing electric fencing up to $500. Although not practical in large areas such as public grazing allotments, electric fencing has been effective in reducing damage in other locations that attract grizzly bears, such as garbage storage areas, fruit trees, and beehives.

Livestock and Wolves: A Guide to Nonlethal Tools and Methods to Reduce Conflicts from Defenders of Wildlife provides an overview of different strategies to mitigate wolf-livestock conflicts such as using guard dogs, installing fencing and fladry, and scare tactics such as lights and alarms.

Researchers at the University of Wyoming studied rancher perceptions of different strategies to mitigate conflicts with carnivores. The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources researchers found that ranchers perceived guard dogs as having the greatest potential to mitigate conflicts. Some ranchers also reported success with herding, fencing, and stalling at night, but additional innovation and evidence is necessary to justify producer adoption of these approaches.

Fladry, or brightly colored flags along a fence, has been shown to deter carnivore conflicts in certain situations. Researchers at the National Wildlife Research Center tested the durability and economic feasibility of seven fladry designs. “Improvements to Fladry” gives an overview of their results.


OUTFITTING

Landowners can consider using hunting, fishing, or other recreational resources to supplement agricultural income through leasing or developing outfitting enterprises. While considering opportunities, it is important for landowners to evaluate liability issues, the time commitment required, and demand for outfitting services in their area. 

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The American Hunting Lease Association provides information to landowners considering leasing their properties to outfitters, hunting clubs, or private individuals. Resources include a lease template, lease listing service, and insurance options.

New websites such as EntryG8 and Outrider (currently only in Texas) work similar to Airbnb by matching hunters with opportunities on private land. Landowners can list their properties, set a fee, and control availability for specific dates. Although these online platforms are new and currently have limited reach in the marketplace, they may become more common in the coming years.


PLANNED GRAZING

Livestock can be used as a tool to achieve other management goals through deliberate timing, intensity, and duration of grazing. Some grazing strategies can create more diverse vegetation structures on a property and can result in habitat for a range of wildlife. Cost shares and technical assistance are available through Natural Resources Conservation Service’s EQIP and other agency programs.

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“Cattle as ecosystem engineers” from Western Confluence magazine describes the science behind grazing practices and resulting environmental characteristics and how cattle and other grazers can be used to “engineer” desired conditions.

Technical and financial assistance may be available to landowners in developing grazing plans and developing associated infrastructure through the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Read also: https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/refuges/wyomingpfw.php

Many producers have benefited from the training and consulting services offered through organizations such as:


RIPARIAN RESTORATION

Riparian areas, or areas adjacent to rivers and streams, are critical to many fish and wildlife species. Practices such as removing invasive plants, planting native vegetation, or addressing erosion can enhance habitat and forage conditions in these locations. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and other agencies provide cost-shares and grants for riparian restoration projects. 

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Wildlife Program provides cost-shares and technical assistance for riparian restoration projects. Contact the Wyoming State Coordinator or the Private Lands Biologists to explore opportunities.

“Wyoming Landowners Restore Riparian Areas in the Big Horn Basin” from the Natural Resources Conservation Service highlights restoration efforts in Park County to address invasive plants. Cost shares and technical assistance may be available through the Natural Resources Conservation Service to implement riparian restoration projects.

To view profiles of riparian restoration projects, visit the Wyoming Stream Restoration and Fish Passage Projects Story Map

River Restoration and Fish Passage Funding Sources and Contacts from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department gives landowners a comprehensive list of the many sources of funding for riparian restoration projects in Wyoming including contact information and eligibility requirements.


STREAM RESTORATION

Stream restoration efforts can enhance aquatic habitats and fishing opportunities. Many practices, such as adding boulders, logs, and other features instream, may be appropriate depending on local conditions. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and other agencies provide cost-shares and grants for river and stream restoration. 

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River Restoration and Fish Passage Funding Sources and Contacts from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department gives landowners a comprehensive list of the many sources of funding for river restoration projects in Wyoming, including contact information and eligibility requirements.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Wildlife Program provides cost-shares and technical assistance for river and stream enhancement projects. Contact the Wyoming State Coordinator or the Private Lands Biologists to explore opportunities.

To view profiles of stream restoration projects, visit the Wyoming Stream Restoration and Fish Passage Projects Story Map.


TRAIL ACCESS

Landowners may voluntarily convey rights to build and maintain a public recreational trail without having to sell or give up other uses of the land. In some cases, funding may be available to purchase access rights. Landowners can establish the terms of access, such as trail size and type of use, through a trail easement document. 

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“Trail Easements” from the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association gives landowners an overview of trail easements. The website also includes example trail easement documents and suggested provisions for landowners to consider. 

Several organizations in Wyoming work collaboratively with landowners to provide public trail access on their land, such as the Sheridan Community Land Trust that has developed the Soldier Ridge Trail in partnership with the private landowner. 


WILDLIFE-FRIENDLY STOCK TANKS

Developing livestock water sources with wildlife in mind helps prevent unintended drownings. Tanks with ladders or escape ramps have been shown to significantly reduce bird, amphibian, and other wildlife losses. The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies and other organizations and agencies provide assistance with acquiring and installing escape ladders.

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The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies developed a wildlife escape ladder that research has shown to be effective at reducing wildlife drownings in stock tanks. The escape ladder design meets Natural Resources Conservation Service standards. The Bird Conservancy can provide assistance with acquiring and installing escape ladders.

Water for Wildlife: A Handbook for Ranchers and Range Managers from Bat Conservation International provides an overview of wildlife escape structures for different farm and ranch water developments. While focusing specifically on bats, many of the designs and considerations are applicable to most small wildlife.


WILDLIFE-FRIENDLY FENCING

Fencing that is wildlife friendly helps maintain healthy populations and migrations by reducing deaths from collisions or entanglements. Cost shares and technical assistance are available through several state and federal agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s EQIP and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners Program.

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A Wyoming Landowner’s Handbook to Fences and Wildlife from the Wyoming Wildlife Foundation provides a practical overview of different fencing designs and landowner considerations for a range of situations and management goals.

Landowners may be able to receive financial assistance to install wildlife friendly fencing through cost share and other granting programs including:

To learn about the availability of financial assistance, contact agency and district staff in your area.


WIND ENERGY LEASING

For properties with significant wind resources, landowners may have opportunities to lease their property to wind energy developers. The University of Wyoming published Commercial Wind Energy Development in Wyoming: A Guide for Landowners to help landowners understand the many issues involved and assess opportunities. 

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The WINDExchange from the U.S. Department of Energy provides maps of energy potential in Wyoming and nationally in addition to a database on state and local wind ordinances and policies and incentives for developing wind resources.

map of average wind speed in Wyoming


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Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources

Bim Kendall House

804 E Fremont St

Laramie, WY 82072

Phone: (307) 766-5080

Fax: (307) 766-5099

Email: haub.school@uwyo.edu

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