Imagine an hourglass.
On one end of this hourglass picture Yellowstone National Park. On the other, think large national forests. The narrow part in between?
That's the private ranches in the Henry's Lake area.
Wildlife must pass from one end of our "hourglass" to the other each year to get to winter and birthing grounds. They have lots of space on either side.
But to get there, they have to pass through that narrow part--Henry's Lake. Without it, they can't pass through.
It might be a metaphor for us, but elk, deer, moose and pronghorn need that hourglass to survive.
Henry's Lake is being developed rapidly. Ranches are becoming subdivisions. With it the hourglass becomes more narrow. Wildlife have fewer chances. Fortunately, there is hope.
Henry's Lake is ranching country. Drive through, and you'll see cattle grazing in meadows, cowboys out on the range. Truth is, it's one of the reasons people visit here. They can take in a rodeo, enjoy a trail ride, eat some delicious home cooking.
But ranchers face pressures to develop their lands. They wonder if they can pass their lands on to future generations. They see the approaching subdivisions and wonder how long they can hold out.
That's why The Nature Conservancy and its partners are working with ranchers to protect these working lands, for people and wildlife.
Conservation easements are a powerful tool for conserving working lands. Easements are voluntary, legal agreements that allow the landowner to continue both ownership of the land and traditional uses like ranching while protecting the land from development in perpetuity.
At Henry's Lake, the Conservancy and partners have protected 4500 acres on 14 ranches from development using conservation easements. That's 4500 more acres for wildlife to pass through the "hourglass." It includes one working ranch that offers weekly rodeos for tourists, as well as providing a migration route for pronghorn antelope. Another ranch is a spawning area for cutthroat trout. Yet another is used by nesting sandhill cranes. Each has its own story. Each offers hope for Yellowstone's wildlife and the ranching lifestyle of the area.
Working together we can continue to protect this special place, ensuring that wildlife can pass through the hourglass--and future generations will be able to enjoy the beauty of Henry's Lake. The working place can continue to give wildlife space.