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In the 1970's, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) began to build a state-by-state network of programs (generically referred to as "state natural heritage programs") dedicated to developing credible, objective information on vegetation types and rare species in North America. Each program was to employ professional biologists familiar with the biota of their state, and was to use a common methodology to evaluate, store, and disseminate biological data. Once a program became well established, TNC would turn over direction of the program to the state government.
The Wyoming program, known originally as the "Wyoming Natural Heritage Program", was established in 1979 and was housed in the offices of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. The program was later renamed the "Wyoming Natural Diversity Database" and relocated to the Botany Department at the University of Wyoming, but it remained under the direction of TNC.
Through legislative action, WYNDD became a research and service unit of the University of Wyoming, under the direction of the Vice President for Research, on 1 July 1998.
To ensure that it remains part of a coordinated network of state programs, WYNDD stays in constant communication and consultation with similar programs in other states and regions.