Two Land Trusts Merge In Hopes Of Saving Conservation Easements

Oct 12, 2016

Trumpeter swans winter in the Green River Valley.
Credit Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge

Two land trusts in northwest Wyoming have merged after one of them began to slip into financial instability after expanding its conservation efforts too quickly. The Green River Valley Land Trust holds development rights to 58 easements in the Pinedale area totally over 32,000 acres. The worry was that those development rights would be left without a trust organization if the organization folded, and that could mean those lands might be turned into subdivisions.

But as of October 1, those easements will be held by the Jackson Hole Land Trust as part of their new Green River Valley Program. Executive director Laurie Andrews says that’s especially good news for wildlife.

“To really highlight the importance of this, we in Wyoming love our wildlife: path of the pronghorn, mule deer migration, amazing fisheries. These are what these easements are protecting,” Andrews said.

Andrews said, the concern was that, if the Green River Valley Land Trust folded, the development easements would be left in legal limbo.

“We’ve never had that case and we didn’t want it to be the case in Wyoming. So again, we came together as two organizations and said, let’s figure this out. And I think this is a really elegant solution to make certain that we never have to worry about these easements being orphaned.”

Andrews said, land trusts not only protect wildlife habitat but also help struggling family ranchers stay in business by purchasing their development rights.