Working lands have the richest biodiversity, per acre, found across the Western landscape, and are typically where the majority of fresh water is found. Working lands are also equally critical for sustaining prosperous rural businesses and long-term economic vitality.
The stewardship of these landscapes is both a privilege and a tremendous responsibility. To support this hard work, we create opportunities for knowledge exchange between landowners, make science more accessible and relevant, and provide the resources and information needed to make sound management decisions.
The Working Wild Challenge
Thriving ranches and thriving wildlife.
Our landowner-led effort recognizes the challenge of ranching with wildlife, and facilitates constructive dialogue between wildlife managers and working lands stewards to solve problems through peer learning, public policies, and increasing access to technical and financial assistance. Our approach leads to stronger partnerships, more resilient ranches, and ultimately, better-connected landscapes.
Women in Ranching
Connecting and supporting, educating and inspiring, a growing network of resilient social capital in agriculture.
Women in Ranching
Today, there are more women inheriting, acquiring, managing, studying, and in other ways stepping up and out as aspiring leaders in agriculture. Investing in women means investing in strong rural communities, improved land stewardship and increased collaborative and creative approaches in the West. Join us.
Stewardship Practice Guides
Sharing knowledge between land stewards.
Publications by landowners for landowners
We are regularly adding to our library of resources to help land stewards take practical action and make tough decisions about every day stewardship issues, from water and forestry to livestock and wildlife.
Aspen Next Generation
The Aspen Next Generation (ANG) Project aimed to foster the future of aspen by pulling together insights from landowners, agency personnel, and scientists across southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. We compiled insights and concerns about the condition of aspen regeneration from a broad range of people throughout the region.
The Working Wild
As landowners, we value wildlife and appreciate the critical importance of biodiversity to healthy ecosystems, to our quality of life and to our own survival. A central part of our mission at Western Landowners Alliance is to help sustain habitat connectivity and native species. Yet we also know first hand the complex realities, financial impacts and management challenges of of co-existing with species such as large carnivores, accommodating the needs of imperiled species and providing forage and habitat for publicly owned and managed wildlife populations. WLA supports landowners in sustaining and co-existing with wildlife by facilitating the exchange of field-tested science and management experience, and by working to ensure landowners get the recognition and financial support they need to keep working lands economically viable while also supporting wildlife species.
Conflicts between large carnivores and livestock can be polarizing. The words used around large carnivore-livestock conflict reduction can either further polarize a sensitive situation or bring people together in a…
Our roadmap to a conservation model that works for rural America, working lands and wildlife. Conservation as usual isn’t working. We are literally losing ground and natural resources every day.…
Working lands stitch together the patchwork of land ownership that creates the character of the American West – open space, valued by both people and wildlife. Many rural communities have…
This report provides an overview of the latest efforts towards migration corridor management in each of the three states, and reports findings from the workshops. The report summarizes the discussion by workshop participants about what is working in their state, as well as opportunities to improve migration corridor management and conservation.
Landowner perspectives gained through one-on-one interviews and focus groups throughout the Upper Rio Grande region provide the foundation for the recommendations contained within this toolkit. These perspectives are shared side-by-side with concise strategies for policymakers, funders, and organizations looking to improve wildlife habitat in this dynamic trans-boundary region of Colorado and New Mexico.
In this guide, WLA offers the collective knowledge and hands-on experience of over 30 land, livestock and resource managers constructively engaged in one of the greatest conservation challenges of our time: how to share and manage a wild, working landscape that sustains both people and wildlife.
This informative guide on the Endangered Species Act provides essential information on the law itself, changes currently being proposed and perspectives from experienced landowners.
In Summer 2016, WLA co-hosted the Beyond Boundaries Landowner Symposium in Cody, Wyoming, which included discussions on emerging science and new policies related to working lands and private ownership in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and beyond. This is the report of that gathering.
In this vital guide’s second edition, revised and updated in 2015, from the Wyoming Wildlife Foundation, building effective yet wildlife-friendly fencing is beautifully illustrated and clearly explained.
This literature reference list is a balanced and comprehensive guide to published resources and science on coexisting with large carnivores.
This guidebook offers strategies and practical tips on effective communication and collaboration with communities to address conflicts with large carnivores, primarily brown bears and wolves. The guidebook was designed specifically for agency personnel in four European countries, but people in North America who are involved in wildlife management will find portions of the guidebook useful as well.
Forest & Range
Green plants growing on living soil
In the West, our livelihoods, communities and wildlife are all dependent on the health, productivity and utilization of forests and rangelands. From grazing management to the application of prescribed fire, many landowners have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the stewardship of these working lands.
Upland Bare Ground and Riparian Vegetative Cover Under Strategic Grazing Management, Continuous Stocking, and Multiyear Rest in New Mexico Mid-grass Prairie
PastureMap is comprehensive ranch management software that helps you keep records, maps, and field photos on your phone. PastureMap is accessible in the field so everyone is on the same page.
This paper reviews some of the key organizational and legal issues that create barriers to controlled burning in New Mexico and has identified a number of opportunities and practices to increase controlled burning.
With recommendations for planning, practicing and monitoring grazing management, this guide is designed to help practitioners significantly improve soil health, water retention and pasture productivity.
New Mexico grazing study shows adaptive management is great for your bottom line.
Ranchers' livelihoods depend on maintaining animal productivity, ranch profitability and healthy soils and plants in highly variable environments. Having the knowledge and flexibility to adaptively manage in the face of change can determine whether managers meet these goals. This grazing management case-study by WLA's Rick Danvir and others is a must-read for all managers.
Bitterbrush provides great browse for mule deer, cattle and elk, making it one of the most desirable rangeland shrubs. Is sticks up above the snow in winter and re-sprouts after fire. However, getting bitterbrush established from seed can be difficult. Seedlings don’t tolerate competition, and planting it alone often leads to weed problems. Researchers at MPG Ranch tested several common range plants for compatibility with bitterbrush seedlings. They found that bitterbrush does as well when seeded near established bottlebrush squirreltail as it does when planted alone. The research also shows that inoculations with mycorrhizal fungi or nitrogen-fixing symbionts are not needed to achieve strong bitterbrush establishment.
This report lays out guidelines for restoring the Colorado Front Range Forests to a healthier condition, closer to their historic appearance.
The report takes into consideration the unique characteristics and climate of the Front Range. Thinning the forests and building back heterogeneity into the landscape—a mix of different ages, sizes and spacing of trees—will help them withstand not just wildfire, drought and insects but climate change.
A publication by Colorado State Forest Service and CSU's Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, describes the primary challenges faced by private landowners who want to manage their forests with fire and specific recommendations on how to overcome those barriers.
A national publication by the Forest Stewards Guild, covers emerging issues in forestry, policy developments, and Guild members' work across the United States
Agua es vida, Water is life
Western settlement patterns, past and present, have always followed the water. The majority of fertile valley bottoms and accessible water resources are thus privately managed. The way we manage our water resources impacts everything from agricultural productivity to our neighbors and communities to fish and wildlife populations. As landowners, we are committed to identifying and implementing best management practices in the conservation and wise use of water.
Few things are as crucial to ranch operations as water. Getting a handle on your water rights may seem akin to drinking from a fire hose, but it is wildly important. Western water is complex, contentious, and rooted in rich history. This must-read article will help you keep your head above water.
This Brief consists of five sections and an appendix, as follows: Background and Overview covers the basics of the federal Clean Water Act and an overview of the proposal. Considerations…
Caring for New Mexico’s Streams Private stewardship of Western land and water plays a vital role in the health of the West. This must-read guide highlights the importance of New…
By investing in stream improvements and wildlife habitat, landowners can enhance their property values and bottom lines.
Paying the Bills & Securing your Legacy
At the end of the day, the bottom line has to work for every landowner. Whether land serves as a primary source of income, an investment asset, conservation purposes or for personal enjoyment, economics are key to long-term ownership and successful management. WLA provides landowners with information, resources and opportunities to share knowledge with one another in order to save time, avoid costly mistakes and increase economic viability.
How is succession planning different for non-resident or “absentee” landowners? With this ownership type becoming more and more common in the West, how can these landowners best steward their investment to the next generation?
How does one begin the task of planning for the transfer of a family business, real estate and farm or ranch?
This guide presents some ways landowners can earn compensation for their stewardship efforts directly or indirectly—schemes sometimes referred to as payments for ecosystem services, ecosystem services markets, or conservation finance. It goes beyond description to provide illustrative case studies of these strategies at work.
What factors should you consider when selecting an ownership structure for your ranch? What questions should you be sure to answer before deciding? What are differences between an LLC, a C Corporation, and an S Corporation? What are the benefits to partnership, cooperative or shared ownership structures, and what are the drawbacks? Why or when would someone choose a less common ownership structure?
What defines “family governance” and what key factors drive the type of governance structure a family puts into place? How does one effectively integrate family members into its governing structure? What are some governance issues one encounters when creating and administering trusts?
Conservation is a form of economics What policy conditions would empower landowners to allocate time, talent and resources to biodiversity and connectivity? This question is the center of this paper,…
When should a succession plan be put in place? Who should be involved? What are the basic components of a farm or ranch business succession plan? Who can help put it in place?
Six common sense principles endorsed by more than 130 organizations light the path to a better West. We urge Congress and the Administration to advance these principles to achieve rural economic health and a productive agricultural sector, provide for our human needs, and protect the landscapes in which we live and work.
Conservation Finance series
Farm Journal Legacy Project tools
"A family focused on taking constructive action will achieve succession planning success." The Farm Journal Legacy Project provides downloadable succession planning tools for landowners broken out into key topics including "getting started" and "financial management".
University of Wyoming “Passing it On” Resource Guide
Comprehensive guide authored by two UWyo extension agents which includes family dynamics, business planning, and lots of information on estates and federal tax implications. Also includes Excel spreadsheet versions of worksheets in the guide, such as a personal financial statement.
Land for Good Farm Transfer Toolbox
Several articles and documents, some with more of applicability for NE US and small scale farms, but one of the only sources with a guide exclusively for the junior generation. Can’t just click links to see documents, but must provide an email for Land for Good which will send you a link to download.
Land for Good Attorney Compendium for Farm Transfer
Drafted for attorneys who serve farm families, these chapters can be downloaded by topic (business planning, estate planning, and tax planning) and may serve as a helpful resource for someone who is trying to gain as much information as they can independently before meeting with an attorney.
Iowa State Ag DecisionMaker
Page contains good overview of the farm transition components to consider (transfer of labor, management, assets and identification and management of possible risks/barriers) as well as pdf worksheets that senior and junior generations can work through together.
In January 2018, WLA hosted "Legacy on the Land: Compelling Stories and Creative Tools for Land Succession" in Santa Fe, New Mexico. During the forum, Howard Weiss from US Trust provided expertise on succession planning and governance. Check out his detailed presentation.
Updated August 15, 2019, this guide from the Congressional Research Service provides information on the available programs for agricultural conservation offered through the U.S. federal government.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service manages most of the USDA agricultural conservation funding programs. This website has up to date information on grant, loan and matching fund opportunities for conservation activities.
Powering the West
Energy development, whether conventional or alternative, can have significant implications for landowners. In some cases, energy development provides positive financial returns that have enabled working lands to remain intact and in family ownership. In other cases, particularly if poorly executed, it can adversely impact working lands and quality of life. At Western Landowners Alliance, we work to provide the knowledge and resources landowners need to make informed decisions.
In this 2003 report from the University of Colorado Boulder, Patricia Nelson Limerick, Claudia Puska, Andrew Hildner, and Eric Skovsted provide a thorough primer on energy issues in the West.
This story describes the high environmental standards applied to natural gas development at Vermejo Park Ranch and was originally published at High Country News on July 19, 2004.
This handbook from the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service helps landowners understand wind energy leasing in great detail.
This brief from Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural Law & Taxation discusses legal questions and liability concerns for landowners leasing wind energy on their property.
January 19 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm MST
Join us for a Drought Resilience Webinar Series this winter! While the increasing incidence of drought is…
February 17 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm MST
Flexibility with Accountability: Applications of Data in Adaptive Management Feb 17th, 11:00 – 12:30 MT How can…
March 17 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm MDT
Putting People and Data to Work: Collaborative Monitoring Successes March 17th, 11:00 – 12:30 MT How can…
March 24 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm MDT
Data Stewardship: Monitoring in Service to Local Communities March 24th, 11:00 – 12:30 MT How can data…
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