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Easement opens pronghorn migration route

February 02, 2010 at 02:34 PM

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - The easement secured by The Conservation Fund protects 2,400 acres of the Carney Ranch in Sublette County. The ranch lies along the migration path that hundreds of pronghorn antelope use every spring and fall to move between their summer habitat in Grand Teton National Park in northwest Wyoming and their winter grounds to the south in the Green River Basin.

Financial details of the easement were not released.

Biologists say pronghorn can travel up to 160 miles during the annual migration. Only the Arctic caribou migrate farther in the Western Hemisphere.

Conservation Fund State Director Luke Lynch said the easement prevents development and ensures sound management of the ranch.

“This project protects the prongh orn and a working cattle ranch - two icons of the American West,” Lynch said. “The Carney family made a significant donation to make this possible - we applaud the three generations of family members for their major commitment to conservation.”

Ranch president John Carney, a former Teton County commissioner, said it was the lifelong dream of his father, Otis Carney, to protect the land.

“He would be very pleased at this outcome,” Carney said.

Protecting the Carney Ranch has been a high priority for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The ranch provides habitat for 75 “species of greatest conservation need,” one of the highest species counts recorded in the state.

The property will continue to be operated as a cattle ranch. It straddles one of three bottlenecks on the migration route.

The bottlenecks are places where the sagebrush steppe is pinched by topography, vegetation or development. Short sight distances and obstructions might serve as a roadblock to the sometimes skittish pronghorn that rely on keen eyesight and blazing speed to elude predators.

The Conservation Fund purchased the easement using money from various sources, including the Acres for America program, a partnership established between Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The Jonah Interagency Office, Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative, the Wyoming Wildlife & Natural Resources Trust and The Nature Conservancy, through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, provided additional funding, Lynch said.

The Jonah Interagency Office is funded in part by gas revenue from the development of the Jonah Field in southern Sublette County.

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