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Two Wyoming Organizations will host a community event celebrating working lands

A mule deer on private land near Sheridan, Wyoming.
Photo taken by Daniel/AdobeStoc
edited by Jordan Uplinger / WPR
A mule deer on private land near Sheridan, Wyoming.

The Sheridan County Conservation District (SCCD) and Western Landowners Alliance (WLA) are jointly hosting a happy hour and panel discussion on February 1. They are inviting both the general public and local producers to join in a conversation with the conservation community.

Their message: The public benefits from landowners who practice stewardship over working lands.

“It's really any sort of land where a commodity is produced, whether it's logging, house, food [or] fiber,” explained Shaleas Harrison, Wyoming Resource Coordinator with the WLA. “They often have water year-round, and lots of good habitats. They're farmable, they produce things, they were settled for a reason. And for that reason, they're some of the most at-risk lands across the world, not just in Wyoming.”

Harrison said the WLA came together to protect the biological and resource diversity offered by working lands, while “preventing land fragmentation and sustain[ing] a mixed use of rural enterprise on private lands”. The organization's origins and goals fall in the same realm as the SCCD. The conservation group also recognizes the benefits humans get from maintaining habitats and lands.

“[The SCCD] came out of the Dust Bowl era,” said District Manager Carrie Rogaczewski. “Mainly to provide some sort of private or local oversight [of] federal conservation programs to address soil erosion, water erosion, and other natural resource concerns”.

These two organizations, with a history of local stewardship, education, and community want to share their experiences, practices, and opinions with a wider Wyoming community. That’s why they are hosting a happy hour panelat the Best Western in Sheridan.

“This is really a celebration of working lands, and what they provide to our communities. We want to celebrate the stewardship that landowners do,” said Harrison.

Harrison highlighted how that act of stewardship is visible across the state of Wyoming. According to her, making the public aware of “habitat area[s] or migration routes” is important because these features don’t just appear.

“That land is being stewarded by humans,” said Harrison.

“And that's part of what [The WLA and SCCD] are here for, is to help those private landowners,” added Rogaczewski. “To help continue to use those landscapes in a way that is sustainable.”.

Attendees of the event will get to meet some of those landowners who have experience in the maintenance of working land and managing ecosystem services. Lesli Allison, chief executive officer of WLA, Bob Budd, the executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource, Brad Bauer, the executive director of the Sheridan Community Land Trust, local ranchers Dan Reinke and Doug Masters, and Ian Tator, the terrestrial habitat supervisor with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, all will attend the event.

In addition to a panel discussion and happy hour, there will be a screening of a short film covering a 50-year effort to restore wetlands in Montana. Those who wish to attend are encouraged to RSVP online.

Jordan Uplinger was born in NJ but has traveled since 2013 for academic study and work in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He gained experience in a multitude of areas, including general aviation, video editing, and political science. In 2021, Jordan's travels brought him to find work with the Wyoming Conservation Corps as a member of Americorps. After a season with WCC, Jordan continued his Americorps service with the local non-profit, Feeding Laramie Valley. His deep interest in the national discourse on class, identity, American politics and the state of material conditions globally has led him to his current internship with Wyoming Public Radio and NPR.
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