Wyoming: Conservation easement funding bill signed
CHEYENNE – Wyoming Governor Matt Mead signed a critical piece of conservation legislation on Wednesday, March 2.
Senate File 62, “Large Project Funding,” approved the recommendations for project funding made by the board of the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust (WWNRT) for large projects in utilizing funding allocated in the last budget session. The Legislature must approve any project receiving $200,000 or more in funding as selected and recommended by the WWNRT board. In addition to the 17 large projects reviewed by the Legislature, the WWNRT provided funding more than 70 other projects.
“The argument for the appropriation was made much easier due to the competence and professionalism of the both the board and the staff,” Senator Bruce Burns of Sheridan County said.
WWNRT funding enables the Stock Growers Ag Land Trust to take advantage of Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) dollars obligated through the Natural Resources Conservation Service by providing some of the cash match required by FRPP. In 2010, the NRCS obligated nearly $20 million in funds for conservation easements throughout Wyoming and an additional $17 million in funds to support projects in Wyoming sage grouse core areas was announced several weeks ago.
The WWNRT was established by the Wyoming Legislature in 2005 to maintain and enhance the rich wildlife and natural resource heritage in Wyoming. To date, the WWNRT has funded 304 projects statewide through the allocation of $29,523,528. Approximately 40 percent of those dollars supported conservation easement projects. With the majority of each project funding coming from other sources, the WWNRT matching funds have facilitated more than $162 million spent on the ground.
To date, six projects resulting in 11 completed conservation easements held by the Stock Growers Ag Land Trust have benefited from a portion of this funding. The Stock Growers Ag Land Trust will hold conservation easements for five projects included in this year’s large projects bill.
“Our organization is most grateful for the opportunity to utilize these funds to help bring grant dollars into the state,” Stock Growers Ag Land Trust Executive Director Pamela Dewell said. “Coupled with the generous support of the landowners who contribute a portion of the value of their property’s development rights, we are able to ensure these productive private lands are available for agriculture and wildlife in perpetuity.”
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