A conservation easement now protects 84 acres of high quality grassland and stream-side habitat near Sheridan. The Willson property, which is directly adjacent to other conservation projects by The Nature Conservancy, is a vital piece of an over 1,600-acre effort to protect critical wildlife habitat from encroaching subdivision threats.
“We were encouraged by our neighbors to reach out to The Nature Conservancy to protect this beautiful piece of Wyoming,” said John Willson. “The natural character of this area is something we plan to pass on to our children.”
The Willson property sits on the banks of Smith Creek in the iconic Bighorn Mountains. The rugged beauty, abundant wildlife and friendly western culture of this area make it an increasingly popular destination—to live and visit. Because of this, the Bighorn Mountains face growing pressures. Large tracts of ranchland have become housing subdivisions, threatening the very qualities that people enjoy most.
In addition to being high quality ranchlands, the Bighorn Mountains are home to greater sage grouse, antelope, deer, elk, black bear, waterfowl and migratory birds.
“The Willson property adds incredible value to the conservation work being done in the area” said Sally Morton, Northeast Wyoming landscape director for The Nature Conservancy. “Bringing farmers, ranchers, and other landowners to the table is one of the best ways to ensure the vitality of Wyoming’s native grasslands. The Conservancy is working with families across the state to protect priority landscapes, like those in the Bighorn Mountains, for nature and the people who enjoy and depend on them.”
The recently completed conservation easement links two adjacent protected parcels already owned by the Willsons; thereby creating a large intact conserved area that will provide increased conservation benefits.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.