Wildhorse Ranch Project: A Win-Win Partnership To Protect Sagebrush Range

elk habitat

April 21, 2017

Innovative conservation easement preserves agricultural working lands, wildlife habitat, and public land access for future generations

In northern Nevada, elk and sage grouse cruise across healthy sagebrush range alongside cattle, antelope, and deer. Keeping this area’s working ranchlands intact is pivotal for maintaining the forage and water resources that support these spectacular birds and herds.

Thanks to our partner, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, 4,500 acres of key wildlife habitat and working lands will be protected for future generations. A voluntary conservation agreement with the owners of Wildhorse Ranch — which includes Sage Grouse Initiative-enrolled  rancher Bryan Masini — will conserve crucial range and preserve ranching heritage.

Fast Facts:

>> Land Conserved: 4,500 acres ranchland + improved public access for hunting and recreation on 19,000 acres of adjacent public lands managed by Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Bureau of Land Management.

>> Wildlife Benefits: Wonderful range habitat for sage grouse, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, and elk, along with the vital riparian areas that supports big game, birds, and fish.

>> Project Location: 70 miles north of Elko, Nevada, in the Owyhee River watershed.

>> Partners Involved: Agricultural landowners, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Nevada Department of Wildlife, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.

The project was funded by the Nevada Department of Wildlife as well as the Sage Grouse Initiative through the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.

“We are grateful for all the partners in this effort and find great hope in innovative approaches such as this conservation easement,” said Tony Wasley, NDOW director. “This is a great solution that protects private land, while also maintaining the land’s benefits for the wildlife species that depend on it.”

Learn more: “How Do Conservation Easements Work?

Read about the Masini family’s conservation efforts

Check out the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

The Sage Grouse Initiative is a partnership-based, science-driven effort that uses voluntary incentives to proactively conserve America’s western rangelands, wildlife, and rural way of life. This initiative is part of Working Lands For Wildlife, which is led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.