Wyoming Game and Fish Department recognizes 2011 Landowners of the YearWritten by Saige Albert
“The Landowner of the Year award is presented to Wyoming landowners who have demonstrated outstanding practices in wildlife management, habitat improvement and conservation techniques on their properties,” says the WGFD. “These landowners also cooperate with the WGFD to provide access to hunters and anglers on their properties.”
After being nominated by department staff members, award recipients are selected by regional leadership teams for their accomplishments. Landowners from seven regions in Wyoming were recognized at a dinner held July 10 in Lander.
From the Casper region, Tim and Dawn Pexton of Indian Creek Ranch south of Douglas were recognized.
“The Pextons work very hard to perpetuate quality management practices on their ranch. Their excellent stewardship is reflected in the richness of wildlife present on their property,” WGFD comments. “The conflicts that sometimes arise with wildlife are met with a positive attitude by Tim and Dawn.”
Additionally, WGFD notes that the Pextons allow hunting access to maintain populations.
Pitchfork Ranch of Cody, owned by Lennox Baker and Greg Luce and managed by Dan and Darcy Morris, received the Landowner of the Year award from the region.
“Pitchfork Ranch’s stewardship of the land and its resources as well as the ranch’s strong support of wildlife make Dr. Lennox Baker, Greg Luce and Dan and Darcy Morris very deserving of this award,” explains WGFD.
In addition to providing year-round habitat for big game species, Pitchfork Ranch works to provide access for hunting through the WGFD Private Land Public Wildlife Program.
In the Green River Region, the Little Sandy Grazing Association received the WGFD award for their support of sagebrush and aquatic habitats.
The WGFD also cited sage grouse research efforts of the Little Sandy Grazing Association as being award-worthy, saying, “This area supports one of the highest densities of sage grouse in the West. The research conducted in these areas monitors sage grouse mortality along fence lines and helps determine effective methods to reduce mortality.”
Preston Ranches of Bedford received the award for the Jackson and Pinedale region due to their support of the elk feedground program, participation in the Private Land Public Wildlife program and work to facilitate fish spawning.
Gene and Lola Russell, owners of Russell Ranch in Glendo were honored with the WGFD Landowner of the Year award in the Laramie region.
“The Russell family has long been an active supporter of wildlife management and their generosity is second to none when it comes to allowing access to their private lands for hunting,” the WGFD notes. “Their 13,000-acre ranch west of Glendo is home to pronghorn, mule deer, elk, mountain lion, wild turkey and numerous other game and non-game species of wildlife.”
From the Lander region, Diamond D Cattle Company of Dubois, owned by Jeff and Susan Sussman and managed by Reg Phillips, was honored for their cooperation with various agencies, which has resulted in efficient and effective livestock and wildlife management practices on the ranch. Hunting is also utilized on the ranch.
“The Sussmans, Reg and all the ranch hands are always professional, courteous and cognizant of wildlife issues,” adds WGFD.
Don and Pete Meike, owners of Meike Ranch in Kaycee, received the award for the Sheridan region.
“Perhaps one of the greatest contributions made by the Meike’s is providing access to hunters,” comments WGFD, adding that hunters on the Meike ranch harvest more than 100 big game animals each year.
The Meike Ranch also provides habitat for a wide array of species, from big game to turkey, Canada geese, sandhill cranes and pheasants.