A partnership between the Ruckelshaus Institute at the University of Wyoming and the U.S. Forest Service has yielded a Private Lands Conservation Toolkit and Training for Wyoming Land Managers—a how-to guide with specific tools and strategies for conserving private lands. The partners have made it a priority to address the loss of open space in Wyoming.
Wyoming is known for its open spaces, and private lands feature some of the most vital wildlife habitats in the state, including winter habitat and migration corridors, says David Taylor, professor in UW's department of agricultural and applied economics. Retaining open space on private lands is important to land management efforts, particularly since the Rocky Mountain West's population is growing faster than any other region in the United States, he adds.
The toolkit's goal is to stem the development of private lands, which can help buffer public lands, reduce wildfire potential and other natural disaster risks to communities, protect critical wildlife corridors and habitat, provide greater access to public lands for recreation, preserve important watersheds, and maintain scenic vistas and culturally significant landscapes.
The U.S. Forest Service projects that nearly 22 million acres of private, rural lands adjacent to national forests and grasslands nationwide will undergo residential development by 2030. According to the American Farmland Trust, more than 2.6 million acres of "prime" ranchland in Wyoming could potentially be developed by 2020.
The resource guide is available online at uwyo.edu/toolkit.