CHEYENNE — Wyoming’s leadership in protecting private agricultural lands and migratory big game populations was recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently with the signing of the Wyoming Wildlife Habitat Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
Under the MOU, Wyoming and the USDA agree to invest “technical capacity and resources in the conservation, restoration, management, and long-term stewardship of multiple-use public and private lands that support migratory big game.” This means funds for private landowners who voluntarily help conserve wildlife habitat, particularly for wildlife movement.
“Wyoming leads the nation in our approaches to conserving wildlife, particularly big game migration. We do that with strong landowner partnerships and recognition that habitat conservation can be done on multi-use lands,” said Governor Mark Gordon. “Private landowners have long provided key habitat for wildlife across Wyoming. Offering voluntary funding opportunities to landowners to maintain this valuable space for wildlife is a recognition of their role in conservation.”
Wyoming has long worked to conserve big game. In 2020, Governor Gordon signed the “Mule Deer and Antelope Migration Corridor Protection” Executive Order, the culmination of an approach that supports conservation, protects landowner rights and accommodates multiple-use opportunities.
The USDA, as part of the agreement signed today by the Governor and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, will provide a new package of investments in key conservation programs for fiscal year 2023. The agreement includes funding to support increased staffing capacity and the deployment of streamlined program application processes for agricultural producers and landowners. Producers in the Wyoming pilot area will be able to apply for conservation programs that meet their unique needs starting this fall. The program provides incentives to those landowners for being stewards of the land.
“Conserving private working lands and tribal lands through voluntary, collaborative incentives not only empowers producers to address a range of natural resource concerns, but also helps them care for our nation’s most important wildlife habitats and corridors,” said Secretary Vilsack. “We’re pleased to announce today’s agreement, which is the product of consultation and partnership with the State of Wyoming and local stakeholders. This agreement will help create new and enhanced opportunities through USDA’s conservation programs to keep working lands working and give farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners new opportunities to conserve wildlife and migration corridors.”