A sunset sky over rocky canyons covered in lush green bushes.
Tensleep Preserve, Wyoming A rugged collection of canyons, uplands and forests, the heart of Tensleep Preserve is a 12-mile stretch of Canyon Creek. © Skyler Woodruff

Stories in Wyoming

Wyoming Annual Report 2022

Even with this year’s challenges, we continue on course to keep Wyoming wild and working.

Headshot of Wyoming State Director Hayley Mortimer.
Hayley Mortimer Wyoming State Director. © Nick Lund

Letter from the Director

Dear Friends,

I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things that I hold dear. A frightening accident that left someone dear to me terribly injured does lead a person to start thinking like that. We assess all the good things in our lives that it can be easy to take for granted. Of course, my family and friends are at the top of that list. But I also appreciate enormously how lucky I am to live in this beautiful state, surrounded by mountains and rivers and the vast open spaces of the Sagebrush Sea. Like my family and friends, I never want to take that natural bounty for granted.

My experience was a reminder of how fragile life is. Nature is fragile, too. Like people, nature is resilient, but some healing can take a very a long time and a lot of work. Still, we have no other choice. I don’t want to look back some day and wonder what happened to the Wyoming I love. That’s why I’m so proud to work at The Nature Conservancy. This annual report provides just a small snapshot of some of the ways our staff, trustees and supporters have helped us keep Wyoming wild and working. 

I thank you for your friendship and support and wish you the best for the coming year.

Hayley Mortimer, Wyoming State Director

Wyoming’s Forests Matter

Though they cover a relatively small portion of the state, Wyoming’s forests have shaped many communities and provide critical habitat for much of the wildlife we love, not to mention places for outdoor fun. But our forests are facing challenges, from wildfires and climate change to disease and invasive species. One of our strategies for addressing these challenges is to advance our scientific understanding of how restoration can increase a forest’s resilience to climate change. Here's an example.

Case Study: Sierra Madre Snowpack Monitoring Project

We know that forest restoration techniques often help reduce the risk of severe wildfires and improve forests’ health and resilience to climate change. Can they also help reduce the stress of drought and improve water supplies as the climate changes?

We are trying to answer this question with our Sierra Madre Snowpack Monitoring Project. We know that Wyoming’s water supply is heavily dependent on winter snowpack: it’s vitally important for the land to hold onto snow as long as possible, so that it slowly melts into the ground and streams.

Rolling meadows leading down to lakes and mountains.
Sierra Madre Mountains Beautiful view of a meadow and lakes in the Sierra Madre Mountains in Wyoming. © Piso DB Mojado
Looking up the trunk to the limbs of a majestic pine tree.
Tree branches Big Ponderosa Pine at Tensleep Preserve in Wyoming. © Franklin Eccher

Trees provide shade to slow melting, but a very dense canopy can reduce the amount of snow that reaches the ground. What we want to know is: which forest restoration techniques could help retain more water in soil and streams and offer more resilience to future drought?

The Nature Conservancy’s Wyoming and Colorado River Programs have chosen a forest demonstration site in Wyoming’s Sierra Madre Mountains to explore this question more deeply. Our project is monitoring impacts of different types of forest restoration treatments on the duration of snowpack and soil moisture. Over time, we will incorporate the results into a model that will help guide decision making throughout the Colorado River system.

Hope in Action

With people who think like you, talking about climate change may seem like no big deal. But when a friend or colleague has a different opinion about what’s driving the change, the conversation can get tricky. Like religion and politics, it becomes a topic to avoid.

The Nature Conservancy’s chief scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe believes that we can talk with each other in respectful and effective ways about climate change no matter what our beliefs, and that we must do it if we care about the future of our planet. We just need to do it in a way that is constructive and respectful, not challenging those who don’t see things the way we do.

Person standing on a stage speaking to a room of people.
Hope in Action Katharine Hayhoe speaking in Wyoming about how to talk about climate change by first finding common ground. © Noah Waldron

That is the message she brought to Wyoming during our Hope in Action: Wyoming’s Response to Climate Change event in Jackson this past summer. Despite her impressive scientific credentials, Dr. Hayhoe doesn’t rattle off scary statistics and numbers. She believes that the path to action is through the heart, not the head. People act when they care and feel personally invested in making a difference.

So find common ground: things you both care about. We all have mutual interests—our children, our faith, water or the economy, the places where we live. Those are the intersections where we can find common ground, and that’s where the conversations must begin.

Two people standing at a table talking together.
Phil Cameron Home energy checkups are a way to talk to people about climate action. © Noah Waldron

She advocates focusing on positive changes that are taking place and on small personal actions—like reducing our food waste and energy consumption, conserving water or switching to clean energy. Talking about our larger goals can inspire others to start making changes too. Our power multiplies exponentially when we advocate for climate solutions in our place of work, our school, or our city or state.

How You Can Fight Climate Change

Rows of fresh produce.
Fresh Farm Produce Buying locally grown produce helps to support your community's economy and cuts down on energy used for transportation. © Shutterstock

At Home

  • Conserve Energy: Weatherize your home, use energy-efficient appliances and lighting or turn off the lights and lower the thermostat. Install rooftop solar and/or opt for renewable power whenever you can.
  • Save Water: Install water-saving devices on home taps and showers and turn off the faucet when you’re not using the water.
  • Plant Drought-Tolerant Gardens: Choose native plants and replace lawns that require regular watering with more drought-tolerant landscaping. Root out invasive plants when you can.
  • Don’t Waste Food: Doing so also wastes the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport and package the food. In a landfill, unused food rots, producing methane—a greenhouse gas that is even more potent than carbon dioxide.
Child on a bike.
Alternative Routes Biking, walking, carpooling or taking public transport are all ways to help reduce emissions. © Shutterstock

In Your Community

  • Rethink Your Route: Carpool, bike or walk to events, shopping and other activities. Consider buying  an electric or hybrid vehicle.
  • Shop Local: You’ll reduce waste and the energy used in shipping, plus you’ll support businesses and agriculture in your own community.
  • Use Your Voice and Your Vote: Talk about climate change with friends and family and through your social media channels. Vote with your ballot and your wallet. Support candidates who push policies that promote renewable energy, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, support statewide water planning and reduce the causes of climate change.

A Blooming Dilemma

Spring and summer wouldn’t be the same in Wyoming without spectacular wildflowers. These plants aren’t just a feast for the eyes. In the Sagebrush Sea, they provide a literal feast for birds such as greater sage-grouse hens and chicks that feed on the insects drawn to the plants. They support pollinators and contribute to the diversity and stability of the plant community required by wildlife.

Delicate and soft wildflowers in the soil.
Astragalus purshii This native wildflower is an important part of the Sage Brush Sea ecosystem. © Hannah Demler
Small and vibrant wildflowers in dry soil.
Astragalus spatulatus Native wildflowers are essential to restoration efforts and contribute to the overall biodiversity of landscapes. © Hannah Demler
Astragalus purshii This native wildflower is an important part of the Sage Brush Sea ecosystem. © Hannah Demler
Astragalus spatulatus Native wildflowers are essential to restoration efforts and contribute to the overall biodiversity of landscapes. © Hannah Demler

Wildflowers are essential to the mix of plants used to restore land that was previously disturbed by mining and other development. The problem is that their seeds are hard to come by. Wildflowers have been stubbornly hard to grow in agricultural environments. In nature, their seeds fall to the ground at different times of year and lie exposed to the elements, and the seeds sprout when the growing conditions are best. When this process is left to nature, it takes a lot of time.

The Nature Conservancy is trying to solve this problem by investigating the best ways to germinate seeds in the lab. If we can figure out what seeds need in order to sprout successfully, we can apply that treatment before sowing them in the field. It could be something as simple as scratching their surfaces with sandpaper. But that’s a tedious process. We are testing ways to crack this problem at a scale big enough to match the demand for large-scale restoration.

Explore the Sagebrush Sea

Learn about the Sagebrush Sea and our efforts to restore it.

Read More

A Long Overdue Homecoming

Bison standing in a field in autumn backed by snow-dusted mountains.
A Happy Homecoming Bison released on the Wind River Reservation. © Brad Christensen

Bison released on the Wind River Reservation.

In October 2021, the Intertribal Buffalo Council led the release of 50 buffalo from a Nature Conservancy preserve in Missouri to Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation. The move was part of a nationwide effort to restore these animals back to Indigenous tribes. The animals were divided between the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho.

“This brings hope to the people for future generations to reconnect to an animal that was purposely removed to subjugate our ancestors.”

—Jason Baldes
Member of the Eastern Shoshone and Tribal Buffalo Manager for the National Wildlife Federation

Person holding a young child in a field.
Jason Baldes Eastern Shoshone tribal member and Intertribal Buffalo Council board member, holding his grandson Aabriel. © Katie Klingsporn/WyoFile

Since the transfer, the Tribes have added 900 acres toward a goal of 17,000 acres of new buffalo habitat for the reservation. But Baldes points out that before that vision can be realized, buffalo must be protected as wildlife under Tribal law, which would support the restoration of larger landscapes.

The movement to restore buffalo to the Wind River Reservation began with the arrival of 10 animals in 2016. Today, the Shoshone herd totals 77 and the Arapaho herd has 56 animals. In addition to expanding the herds to a larger area, Baldes says they hope to eventually acquire the facilities needed to process and store harvested buffalos to establish food sovereignty and improve the health of Tribal members.

TNC continues to work with the Tribes of the Wind River Reservation to realize those goals.

Keep Wyoming Wild & Working

Thanks to supporters like you, the work we completed during our last five-year strategic plan has set us up for even greater success in the years to come. The generosity of two conservation champions, Nancy-Carroll Draper and Diane Mott, is getting us off to an excellent start—one in which you can also play a role!

Young girl shows her Wyoming pride on top of a snow-capped peak.
Girl with Wyoming flag © Wes Richner

A Matching Opportunity

A lifelong conservationist, Nancy-Carroll Draper was committed to preserving Wyoming’s land, waters and wildlife. From now through June 30, 2024, the Nancy-Carroll Draper Charitable Foundation will match up to $500,000 in eligible gifts to inspire support from those who share Nancy’s love of Wyoming. Contact us to learn more about how your gift can qualify and unlock these matching funds to advance conservation.

Herd of elk in a field of sagebrush.
Sagebrush Sea Elk herd near Burgess Junction, Wyoming. © Donna Robinson/TNC Photo Contest 2019

A Gift for Wyoming Wildlife

The late Diane Mott's fond memories of her Wyoming childhood instilled in her a love of open spaces and wildlife. Her $250,000 estate gift creating the Harold and Jean Mott Corridor Conservation Fund honors the legacy of her parents and Diane's commitment to protecting Wyoming's world-renowned big game migrations. This fund allows TNC to address complex migration challenges through partnerships, conservation, science and policy. We are honored by her confidence and trust in TNC to preserve these ancient pathways and the wildlife that depend on them. Contact us to learn more about how you can support this important work.

Support Nature

If you would like to learn more, make a gift or leave a legacy for Wyoming in your estate plans, please contact us at 307-335-2120 or wyoming@tnc.org.

Financial Results

June 30, 2021 - June 30, 2022

We carry out our work with a deep commitment to accountability and transparency. Our conservation accomplishments this year have been empowered by sustainable financial resources. We have built a strong and effective organization in keeping with our strategic plan.


FY21 Operating Revenue: $5,064,323

Contributions 74

Investment Income 16

Grants, Contracts, Other 10

Test 1 0

Test 2 0

Programmatic Efficiency

FY21 Operating Expenses: $4,502,178

Conservation 78

Gen/Administration 8

Fundraising 14

Test 0

Test 1 0

The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming Statement of Financial Position

Assets As of June 30, 2020 As of June 30, 2021
Cash and Investments $8,331,544 $10,285,392
Endowment Funds $21,436,355 $18,717,713
Land Assets $177,186,582 $177,785,428
Other Assets $2,023,664 $460,112
Total Assets $208,978,145 $207,248,644
Liabilities $31,043 $2,000
Net Assets $208,947,102 $207,246,644
Total $208,978,145 $207,248,644

Board of Trustees

Kathy Lichtendahl (Chair) Deborah de la Reguera
Indy Burke (Vice Chair) Jerimiah Rieman
Steve Buskirk (Vice Chair) Margie Taylor
Doug Gouge (Secretary) Paul Ulrich
Reid Murchison (Treasurer) Doug Wachob
Anne Pendergast (Trustee Legacy Ambassador) Rob Wallace
Mark Doelger Page Williams
Mary Hayes David Work
Chris Madson
Rita Meyer
Frank Bonsal
Baron Collier
Richard Davis
Dennis Knight
Gil Ordway
Fred Whiting
Anne Young

Wyoming Donors

We couldn’t achieve our conservation success without you! The following donors made gifts/pledges to the Wyoming program or live in Wyoming and made gifts/pledges to other TNC programs of $1,000 or more between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022. View Donor List