Wyoming is Worth Conserving
Wyoming is known for its open spaces, scenic splendor, abundant wildlife, and ranching heritage. Our ranchlands have long maintained these features and play a pivotal role in determining if these hallmarks of Wyoming will be part of its landscape in the future. Beyond agriculture and the environment, Wyoming’s ranching and open space legacy supports the prosperity of the state and quality of life of its residents by forming the basis of many tourism and recreation activities. The value of the agricultural sector output in Wyoming totaled $2.2 billion in 2014 (Wyoming 2015 Agricultural Statistics). These dollars have a compounding positive affect for communities by supporting local businesses and adding to county tax rolls.
In Wyoming, 26 million acres, or 93% of the state’s private land base, produce our food and fiber, sustain our local economies, and support generations of hard-working families (Wyoming’s State of the Space). These ranches buffer federal forests and national parks, and dovetail with state lands, creating a mutually beneficial system of private and public lands working together. Wyoming ranches provide important wildlife habitat, cradle the headwaters of our rivers, and help nurture a distinctly western way of life.
However, Wyoming ranchlands and the values they encompass are disappearing.
- Experts predict 50% -75% of ranches in the West will change hands in the next 10 to 15 years (American Farmland Trust).
- Ag land is at the greatest risk for residential development. The majority of land going into low density rural development is coming from the sale of “prime” farm and ranchland to residential and commercial developers (Wyoming’s State of the Space).
- Ranchland fragmentation has been identified as one of the top four threats to the future integrity of the West’s public lands (US Forest Service).
- Studies have predicted that 48 million people will be added to the West by 2050, resulting in 26 million acres of open space being converted to residential and commercial development. Of the eleven western states, Wyoming is expected to have the third highest growth rate (American Farmland Trust).