In the beginning there were handshakes. Trust was earned one relationship at a time. Ranchlands & wild places were saved, acre by acre, and a vision began to form.
30 Years of Conservation in Wyoming
On nature’s timeline, 30 years might seem like the blink of an eye. But for conservation in Wyoming, three decades have been momentous. Since 1989, we have protected more than 1 million acres and 1,500 river miles with our partners across the state.
With your help, today we are protecting Wyoming’s lands and waters in ways that were unimaginable 30 years ago.
From our Heart Mountain Ranch Preserve and Sweetwater River to the Thunder Basin, and in so many more special places, we have created a tangible legacy in Wyoming. Take a moment to look back on some of the greatest conservation wins you helped us achieve in our 30th Anniversary Timeline below.
Over the years, TNC—and the mission of conservation—has evolved. Today we work on large landscapes and whole ecosystems—conserving wildlife migration routes and entire river systems. We’re pushing the boundaries of science, forming bigger partnerships and taking more risks. Through our Wild and Working campaign, we’re protecting and restoring healthy waters, conserving resilient lands and building a powerful conservation constituency.
Most importantly, we’re growing our ranks of passionate supporters, like you, as the stakes continue to rise for Wyoming’s natural world. Thank you for standing with us as we build a state where nature and people thrive.
Celebrate 30 Years with Us
To celebrate our anniversary, we’re hosting nature festivities across the state. Learn how you can get involved in volunteer days and other fun activities. Not able to join us at one of our events? Plan your own visit to one of our preserves and experience our work up close and personal. You can also donate to TNC in Wyoming and invest in a future where nature and people thrive.
To scroll through the timeline, simply click and drag to navigate to the left or right.
30 Years of Conservation in Wyoming
1989 – 1999
The Nature Conservancy began working in Wyoming in the 1970s and was formerly chartered in 1989.
TNC in Wyoming. TNC’s Wyoming chapter established in Lander with its own leadership and board of trustees. However, in 1974 TNC completed its first project in the state by safeguarding land near Jackson Hole that would later become the National Elk Refuge.
Tensleep Preserve. Wyoming’s first nature preserve – 9,000-acre Tensleep Preserve – established along the southwestern flanks of the Bighorn Mountains.
Sweetwater River. Six miles of the historically famous Sweetwater River becomes a 2,300-acre TNC preserve.
Red Canyon Ranch. TNC purchases Red Canyon Ranch, a testing ground for livestock grazing and conservation.
Y Cross Ranch. TNC’s largest conservation easement to date, more than 50,000 acres, is donated on the Y Cross Ranch. This is just one example of how we’ve helped keep Wyoming wild and working.
Heart Mountain Ranch. TNC purchases the 14,000-acre Heart Mountain Ranch north of Cody, which now serves as an outdoor laboratory for rangeland management and ecology.
From ground-breaking science on the range to establishing important preserves, The Nature Conservancy expands its reach and asserts its leadership in conserving Wyoming’s natural world.
Sheep Mountain. TNC protects 1,828-acres on Sheep Mountain, near Cody, from development, providing a crucial migratory corridor for wildlife.
Absaroka Range. A conservation easement on the historic Pitchfork Ranch brings the total easements up to 14,000 acres, part of 60,000 total acres TNC has safeguarded in the Absarokas.
Grasslands Conservation Fund. TNC announces the Grasslands Conservation Fund, creating a $250,000 match to the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust to conserve eastern Wyoming’s native grasslands.
Energy by Design. TNC collaborates with BP American Production Co. to complete a mitigation plan for the Jonah Natural gas field that maps critical wildlife areas, a strategy now being used for energy mitigation projects around the world.
“I Believe.” TNC launches annual “I Believe in Conservation” high school photo contest, encouraging the next generation to connect to nature through photography.
Sage-Grouse Science. TNC scientists simulate future development and measure the effectiveness of conservation actions for maintaining sage-grouse populations.
The Nature Conservancy increases the pace and scope of work to impact wildlife migration corridors, improve river health and inspire new connections between people and the land.
Statewide Wetlands Assessment. TNC and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department launch a statewide wetlands assessment to guide future wetland protection and restoration.
Interpretive Cabin at Heart Ranch. TNC opens interpretive cabin at Heart Mountain Ranch Preserve to inform visitors on the mountain’s unique plants and animals, history, geology, and current conservation.
Lander Foothills. TNC works with ranchers to place conservation easements on more than 3,500 acres, connecting to 14,000 acres on the Lander Front already under protection, and providing habitat for mule deer, moose and elk, and sage-grouse.
Big Horn Foothills. TNC reaches 84,000 acres of conservation easements in the Big Horn Foothills, including an easement on the HF Bar Ranch, the state’s oldest guest ranch.
Mule Deer Migration. TNC and partners begin landmark study to map mule deer migration corridors over the entire eastern portion of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. It will be one of the largest collaring efforts ever conducted in Wyoming.
Fence Phenomenon. TNC launches new effort to work with ranchers to modify or remove fencing with the Red Desert to Hoback migration corridor. This project, combined with other TNC wildlife-friendly fencing activities across the state, has resulted in the removal of more than 60 miles of dangerous fence, allowing safe passage for wildlife including pronghorn antelope and mule deer.
Popo Agie River. TNC becomes an early partner on the Healthy Rivers Initiative to develop and implement voluntary measures and best practices for managing water to improve the river’s summer flows and quality.
One Conservancy. Assisted TNC’s Argentina program with its first acquisition of a conservation easement on the 99,000-acre Cabeza de Vaca Ranch. Argentina’s landscape is remarkable, reminiscent in many ways of Wyoming.
Citizen Science. Launched Wildflower Watch, enabling citizens to help us understand how climate change is impacting flowering plants and the animals that depend on them.
Sagebrush Restoration. Initiated “seed enhancement technology” research to improve native plant restoration success in the imperiled sagebrush ecosystem.