Closeup of a pronghorn standing in a grassy field.
Pronghorn Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) © Chris Irwin

Stories in Wyoming

Wyoming Annual Report 2023

Read about our achievements over the past year—for nature and people.

Hayley Mortimer climbs a muddy slope with students in the background.
WY State Director Hayley Mortimer climbs a muddy Heart Mountain. © John Marshall Photography

Letter from the Director

Dear Friends,

We sure have our own way of doing things here in Wyoming. That’s true of the people, who are by far the most independent yet neighborly folks I’ve ever met. It’s also true of the landscape, which is by equal turns breathtaking and challenging. You just can’t assume that what works elsewhere will work here.

That’s why our preserves are so important. They’re among the healthiest lands in Wyoming, but they also face considerable threats from our changing climate and the spread of invasive species. That makes them invaluable places to test out promising science that will help Wyoming’s wild and working lands weather these challenges—and even flourish. Much of what we’re learning here, we couldn’t learn in a lab or on a ranch in another state. Wyoming, after all, is like nowhere else.

Our preserves function as another kind of learning lab, too. They invite people to rediscover nature, which offers a universal language as our communities become more diverse. In this report, you’ll read about the intentional choices we’re making to ensure that everyone has a seat at the table in shaping the future of conservation in our state.

As is true of any day in Wyoming, there’s more work to be done. We sincerely thank you for rolling up your sleeves alongside us to help nature and people thrive.

Hayley Mortimer, Wyoming State Director

Reconnecting with History and Nature

When The Nature Conservancy first acquired Heart Mountain Ranch Preserve, it was clear that the landscape was important for more than just its wildlife and plant diversity. Standing tall within a vast valley of sagebrush, Heart Mountain is one of the most significant landmarks in northwest Wyoming. In addition to its prominence on the landscape, the mountain has deep importance and history with the Apsáalooke (Crow) people, who refer to it as Foretop’s Father.

As the current caretakers of the land, we know that we have a responsibility to provide the space for Indigenous peoples to restore their relationship with, use of and access to ancestral lands and water. More than that, our stewardship practices need to thoughtfully include collaboration with our Indigenous partners. In 2011, Crow tribal elder Grant Bulltail reached out to the Heart Mountain community—including University of Wyoming lecturer Mary Keller, Christ’s Episcopal Church and The Nature Conservancy—about a potential ceremony for the Apsáalooke people. We were honored to offer Heart Mountain Ranch Preserve as the place that would help fulfill Grant Bulltail’s vision.

Out of that partnership, the Return to Foretop’s Father celebration was created. The two-day event honors the Apsáalooke people’s return to their ancestral homeland after 130 years and their reconnection to the mountain. It includes traditional song and dance, as well as a Crow Pipe Ceremony. While the event’s main focus is elevating Indigenous wisdom and the traditions of the Crow, it invites all ecologically minded people to experience and learn more about the mountain.

With your support, we will continue to protect landscapes like Foretop’s Father and Heart Mountain Ranch Preserve for all people who want to reconnect with nature.

Wildflowers at the foothills of a mountain top surrounded by trees.
Heart Mountain Wildflowers at the western foothills, photographed July 1999. © Edward Orth
Two participants in a ceremony on top of a mountain.
Ceremony Return to Foretop’s Father participants. © Ken Blackbird

Explore Heart Mountain Ranch

Innovation and collaboration in the shadows of a Wyoming landmark

Read More

Protecting Wyoming and the American West

When you protect nature in Wyoming, you’re also protecting nature across the West. America’s most iconic wildlife habitat, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, has its heart in Wyoming. The vast expanses of the Sagebrush Sea, the Northern Great Plains and the fire-prone Western Dry Forests reach across significant portions of our state. Crucial headwaters of the Colorado River also get their start here. We are working every day to protect the health of these key systems. Your support benefits nature and people far beyond our state’s boundaries.

Map showing TNC protection areas of the American West.
Across the West Protecting Wyoming and the American West. © The Nature Conservancy Wyoming

Empowering People to Fight Climate Change

More than 60% of Wyomingites think that climate change is a serious concern, but many don’t feel their actions can help solve the crisis. The Nature Conservancy is empowering citizens with meaningful ways to contribute to climate science and providing opportunities for volunteers to help their beloved lands and waters better adapt. 

Yellow wildflowers with orange butterfly and alpine mountains in background.
Wildflowers with a butterfly Sunrise over a field of wildflowers with a butterfly and the Grand Teton Mountain range in the background © Joshua Fahning/Shutterstock

With our Wildflower Watch program, we’ve trained hundreds of citizens to collect valuable scientific data about how our changing climate is causing native plants to bloom earlier. The ramifications of this shift are huge. Pollinators such as bees and butterflies are often unable to match their own life cycles to the changing bloom times, leaving plants unpollinated and animals from birds to grizzly bears desperately hungry. Our scientists are mapping these shifts to discover ways people may be able to intervene.

In a first-of-its-kind partnership with Grand Teton National Park, Wildflower Watch volunteers are now helping rangers collect seeds of sagebrush and other native plants to restore disturbed areas and fortify the landscape against hotter, drier conditions. 

We have also begun expressly inviting Wyoming’s many Spanish speakers to share in this effort by offering both bilingual programs and walks that are guided exclusively in Spanish. We further welcome Spanish speakers to volunteer at workdays such as this year’s installation of a scientific station to study the region’s changing snowpack.

Group of people in field gear investigating plant near ground on a path.
Citizen Science Wildflower Watch at Heart Mountain © John Marshall Photography

Restoring Wet Meadows, Growing Capacity

While much of Wyoming is an arid and far-reaching sagebrush sea, pockets of rich green dot the landscape. These are wet meadows, important wetland areas that occupy less than 2% of the total land area of Wyoming but support approximately 90% of Wyoming’s wildlife species. More than ever, these areas are being threatened by a changing climate and increased human development. 

A black bird with a yellow head perches on twigs with leaves.
Wet Meadows Wildlife Yellow-headed Blackbird male (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) © Don Mammoser/Shutterstock

That’s why The Nature Conservancy is investing in low-cost, innovative technologies to help conserve and restore wet meadows. At the Bar Cross Ranch in western Wyoming, for instance, we are weaving brush and branches across streams to mimic the work of beavers and building small dams out of rock that help restore streamside habitat. These structures slow water and allow it to pool and soak into the ground, encouraging wetland plants to thrive. They also protect streambanks from erosion. Relatively easy to build using materials that are ready at hand, these human-made dams are a cost-effective way for landowners to provide vital water and forage for wildlife. 

Because of the success we’ve had, we are partnering with the Bureau of Land Management, the Sublette County Conservation District and private foundations to fund a full-time position that solely focuses on implementing wet meadow restoration projects across the Upper Green River Basin. 

Your support helps us conserve land we directly manage and empower our neighbors to do the same. 

Several people stand knee-deep in water while one person measures a beaver dam analog.
Recreating dams Measuring beaver dam analogs. © John Coffman
Dave Work mends a wire fence on a prairie.
Fence Work David Work at The Board of Trustees Fence Project © Kathy Lichtendahl

Leading the Way: Dave Work

Dave Work may describe himself as “no spring chicken,” but few can match the energy he brings to conservation. After spending 30+ years in the oil and gas business, Dave and his wife moved to Denver, where they worked with TNC to place a conservation easement on their property—the second conservation easement ever in Colorado. Dave went on to serve as a TNC board member for Wyoming. He believes our efforts to educate the public about protecting wildlife migration corridors in Wyoming are paramount to successfully conserving nature into the future.  

We are honored to have had Dave’s talents and expertise on our board, and we thank him for his continued support. 

Financial Results

July 1, 2022 - June 30, 2023

We put every dollar to use with care, accountability and transparency. Our strategic plan provides a clear road map to where donations and grants will achieve the greatest impact for nature and people. And we manage our finances sustainably to ensure that we can champion nature in Wyoming for generations to come.

The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming Statement of Financial Position
Note: Reflects our conservation easements. These easements, which cannot be sold, constitute the majority of TNC’s conservation holdings and reflect the generosity of Wyoming landowners who, to date, have granted 185 easements to The Nature Conservancy.
Assets/Liabilities As of July 1, 2022 As of June 30, 2023
Cash and Investments $10,285,392 $9,779,127
Endowment Funds $18,717,713 $19,638,933
Land Assets $177,785,428 $177,630,369
Other Assets $460,112 $858,380
Total Assets $207,248,644 $207,906,809
Liabilities $2,000 $2,000
Net Assets $207,246,644 $207,904,809
Total $207,248,644 $207,906,809


FY 2023 Operating Revenue: $4,732,906

Contributions 67

Gov’t Grants & Cont. 7

Investment Income 22

Other Income 4

- 0

FY 2023 Operating Expenses $5,247,286

Expenditures were higher than revenue in an intensive effort to invest in timely, impactful projects.

Board of Trustees

Indy Burke Anne Pendergast 
Steve Buskirk Jerimiah Rieman
Deborah de la Reguera Grant Rodgers
Mark Doelger Margie Taylor
Doug Gouge Paul Ulrich
Mary Hayes Doug Wachob
Kathy Lichtendahl Rob Wallace
Rita Meyer  Page Williams
Reid Murchison David Work

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, 2022, and June 30, 2023. View Donor List

Your Support Makes the Difference

Thank you for being a champion of Wyoming’s wild and working lands. They’re the basis of our way of life and a point of pride for all of us who call this place home. Your continued support is vital to help nature and people thrive into the future. 

Double Your Impact

From now through June 30, 2024, the Nancy-Carroll Draper Charitable Foundation will match up to $500,000 in eligible gifts to support Wyoming’s land, water and wildlife. We need your help to unlock these matching funds before it’s too late. Please contact us to find out how you can double your impact with a gift today.

Support Nature

To learn more, to make a gift or to leave a legacy for Wyoming in your estate plan, please reach out to us at 307-332-2977 or