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Wyoming

Winchester Ranch


The Winchester Ranch is the winter unit for our Red Canyon Ranch. This property provides forage for more than 400 head of cattle while resting grazing allotments in the Wind River foothills during the winter months. Annual calf sales and hay production provide critical revenue for the project.

Location
West central Wyoming, north of Lander

Why the Conservancy Selected this Site
On a daily basis, we zoom past, over and around some of the Wyoming's biological treasures. Far less apparent from the highway is an incredibly complex set of riverine and wetland habitats created as the Wind River flattens out and surges into backwater estuaries, islands, and ever-changing channels.  The river's disturbance pattern creates habitats that are ideal for waterfowl and wading birds. A towering cottonwood forest provides nesting for songbirds and bald eagles while cover created by willow, birch and other mid-height plants hides a herd of elk, tremendous numbers of deer and a host of predators, including: bears, mountain lions and bobcats. The fishery, and its assemblage of river otters, mink and other small mammals, is spectacular as well.

Important hunting grounds for the Shoshone, the property was eventually homesteaded by the Stagner family. The imposing ridge bordering the northern edge of the property is named for them, and the remains of their log buildings can still be seen along the river bank. Prior to the Conservancy's acquisition of the property, it was the headquarters of the Winchester Land and Cattle Company which also owned extensive summer pasture north of Dubois. The Conservancy acquired both parcels in October 2000. The Dubois parcel has been renamed the Ramshorn Ranch and, along with subsequently purchased adjacent parcels, will be sold as part of the Conservancy's Conservation Buyer program.

What the Conservancy is Doing/Has Done
The Nature Conservancy is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to restore nine wetland basins on the Conservancy's Winchester Ranch property. The USFWS and NRCS are providing funding and technical expertise to build dikes, install water control structures and install a new fish barrier to improve habitat along the Wind River and Bull Lake Creek. The restored wetlands will enhance habitat for numerous shore birds, passerine birds and waterfowl, including trumpeter swans. The fish barrier will prevent the potential loss of several thousand fish that could be trapped in diversion ditches in the fall when water is cut off from irrigation.

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