Bridger-Teton grows by 240 acres

Dan Schlager photo Loomis Park Ranch is now part of the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

The Bridger-

Teton National Forest just got a little bigger

– 240 acres bigger, to be exact.

Last week, the Bridger-Teton, The

Conservation Fund and the Jackson Hole

Land Trust announced that the Loomis

Park Ranch inholding had been transferred

to the forest. The formerly private

acreage, about an hour south of Jackson,

is almost completely surrounded by public

lands.

“It’s been a top priority for the forest

for a couple of decades,” said Dan

Schlager, Wyoming director for The Conservation

Fund, which helped the forest

obtain the property.

In 2016, Loomis Park Ranch went up

for sale at a $2.96 million price tag, and

the Conservation Fund purchased the rolling

expanse of forestland and sagebrush

steppe. The Bridger-Teton didn’t have the

funds to buy the land, so with help from

the Jackson Hole Land Trust the nonprofit

held onto ownership until it could gather

the money.

This year, that happened. When the

U.S. Congress passed the Great American

Outdoors Act, it included annual funding

of $900 million for the Land and Water

Conservation Fund, which has existed

since 1964 and uses oil and gas royalties

to buy and protect wild lands. After

the legislation’s passage in August, the

Bridger-Teton was able to procure the

cash to buy the parcel.

“The Loomis Park Ranch parcel is a

great example of what is possible when

partners come together for the benefit of

our public lands,” Forest Supervisor Tricia

O’Connor said in a press release.

Preserving the parcel’s multiuse history

was important to Schlager’s organization,

which protects important habitats not

only for their conservation and ecological

values, but for the economic potential.

Recreation and agriculture are important

components of some of The Conservation

Fund’s projects.

“We have a dual charter of environmental

protection and economic development

in the sense not of developing housing developments

but doing things in a way that

makes economic sense,” Schlager said.

The Upper Green River area parcel is

close to several big-game migratory corridors,

including the Path of the Pronghorn

and the Red Desert to Hoback Corridor.

Data from the Wyoming Migration Initiative

shows that a variety of animals uses

the parcel. Historically, the land has been

used for ranching, and the forest intends

to maintain that function. The acres will

be added to its Beaver Twin grazing allotment

so that historical use can be continued

in concert with opening it up for

recreation.

Making it part of the forest also eliminates

the potential for development,

which Schlager said “wasn’t an immediate

threat,” but was a possibility. Several

sprawling neighborhoods with large lots

are in that area near the Hoback Rim, so

it could have been made an agricultural

subdivision.

Schlager wasn’t sure if the forest would

create recreational trails in the future, but

he said the Conservation Fund was happy

to add the 240 acres to the more than

180,000 his organization has helped conserve

in Wyoming.

“It’s a very sensitive property,” he said,

“and we’re really excited to conserve it, to

work with all these great partners, and to

add that to the Bridger-Teton going forward

for generations.”

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