Wyoming landowners in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have long allowed wildlife to migrate through their private lands, and now, a new partnership will financially compensate them.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the pilot program Friday. The agency is partnering with the state of Wyoming to commit an initial $15 million to landowners willing to conserve their land for big game migration.
It is part of a broad concept called “habitat leasing,” which means the land is essentially “rented out” by the government for wildlife and ranching operations. The land cannot be subdivided into residential units or developed for things like solar infrastructure.
Lesli Allison, the executive director of Western Landowners Alliance, said ranchers are being compensated for what they have already been doing.
“They can’t do that endlessly for free. And it’s part of the reason we’re losing these lands to development is because they’re not able to compete economically with other land uses,” she said.” And that’s because the value they’re providing to public wildlife has never really been recognized.”