Landowner awards: WGFD highlights landowners for public access
Casper – During the Access Recognition Program at the Wyoming Stock Growers Association’s (WSGA) Winter Roundup Convention and Trade Show on Dec. 16, four landowners from across the state were recognized by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) for allowing public access on their lands.
“Congratulations to everyone receiving an award, we appreciate all you do for access,” stated Wyoming Game and Fish Commission Vice President Gay Lynn Byrd. “To every landowner, thank you for water improvement, habitat and everything you do for water.”
“This collaboration has gone on for quite some time between the WGFD and the Wyoming Board of Agriculture and highlights a lot of the ecosystem services that all of you do and the people that have come before you; to benefit the citizens of Wyoming,” added Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Doug Miyamoto. “This is a small way that our two groups can collaboratively thank you and the people of this industry and what they provide.”
Guy and Jill Tharp
“The Access Recognition Program is a collaboration between the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission and the Wyoming Board of Agriculture to recognize land owners who have enrolled their property into access, which is a huge deal these days,” added Cody Regional Access Coordinator Jordan Winter. “Getting access to the public to hunt and fish on private property can be hard.”
Winter introduced the Tharps as one of this year’s award recipients.
Since 1891, the Tharp family has lived and farmed in the Bonanza area east of Manderson. Guy and his wife Jill are the fifth generation of the Tharp family. The oil town of Bonanza has faded, but the legacy of the Tharp family continues. Guy and Jill, along with their son Kyle, continue to farm to this day, shared Winter.
“Their property provides for an abundance of wildlife,” said Winter. “The rich habitat attracts many game species including mule deer, white-tailed deer, turkeys, pheasants and water fowl.”
The Tharp property not only attracts an abundance of wildlife, but it attracts many hunters and anglers. The property has been enrolled in the Walk-In program since 2002, and is one of the original partners for the Wyoming Game and Fish AccessYes program, continued Winter.
Today, the Tharps allow access to hunt many of the species there and are enrolled for year-round fishing access.
“Guy is an avid hunter and angler himself and understands the importance of having a good place to hunt and fish,” said Winter. “Each fall, Guy welcomes hunters to set up camp in his front yard and is always willing to offer a helping hand and lend knowledgeable advice.”
In closing, the Tharps are good, honest and hardworking people who have worked extremely hard to care for their property for over 130 years, concluded Winter.
“They provide excellent opportunities for hunting and fishing and are very generous in allowing hunters restricted public access,” he said.
Null Hall Company Ranch
The WGFD Laramie Region would like to recognize the southeast quadrant committee nomination of the Null Hall Company Ranch, shared Laramie Regional Access Coordinator Kelly Todd.
The Null Hall Ranch is managed by Megan Peel and Michelle Hall with the ranch headquarters located north of Rock River.
“The Null Hall Company Ranch provides a wide variety of access opportunities across these properties,” he said. “They have roughly 6,120 acres signed into the Pinto-Creek Hunter Management Area for antlerless elk hunting.”
Since 2011, the ranch has gradually expanded each year with additional properties, which ultimately linked Albany County Walk-In Area 12 to surrounding land for a very large and continuous source of elk harvest, mentioned Todd.
“In the past, the property alone accounts for 100 elk harvested,” he said. “The main ranch north of Rock River typically is outfitted for pronghorn and prairie dog hunting, with additional private leases for limited mule deer hunting.”
Since 2021, the Null Hall Company Ranch allowed access to some of their property south of their home ranch, so pronghorn hunters can gain access to the neighboring lands, which are only accessible through the Null Hall Company property, he continued.
Megan and Michelle thought it was important to be neighborly and good stewards of the land by providing access through their property.
“The Null Hall Ranch has gone above and beyond to assist the WGFD with wildlife management goals while providing the public with ample opportunity and still manage recreational opportunities for additional profit,” concluded Todd.
PacifiCorp’s Kemmerer branch currently provides employment for over 100 people and is the main business operation to produce electric energy, shared Kemmerer Regional Access Coordinator Andy Countryman.
“Not only have they provided local jobs, but they have created diverse recreational opportunities for sportsmen,” Countryman continued. “In 2006, PacifiCorp signed into a long-term agreement with the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to a create public access at the Viva Naughton Reservoir on the Ham’s Fork River for boating, fishing, snowmobiling, hunting and other recreational activities free of charge for the public.”
“The area covers over 4,100 acres and the Viva Naughton Reservoir has become a premier fishing and hunting access for both residents and non-residents,” continued Todd. “The reservoir’s rich habitats provide prized fishing opportunities for trout and hunting opportunities for antelope, deer, moose, water fowl, sage grouse and small game.”
The department annually stocks the reservoir with approximately 70,000 trout, and the reservoir is used year-round.
Additionally, PacifiCorp allows the Kemmerer’s Lion Club to utilize the access area for their annual fishing derby.
“WGFD wouldn’t be able to recognize PacifiCorp today without the actions of one of their employees, Roger Holt,” shared Countryman. “Roger was the engineering manager and eventually worked his way up to the plant manager position has been instrumental in development, management and protection of this diverse access.”
“Without being asked, PacifiCorp has provided funding, materials, labor and equipment to assist with improvement projects such as campgrounds, boat ramps and working areas. These projects have greatly improved the use and experience for sportsmen at Viva Naughton,” concluded Countryman.
Two Creek Ranch
“The northeast quadrant would like to recognize the Two Creek Ranch, which is owned by Shawn and Lisa Daly,” shared Casper Regional Access Coordinator John Pokallus. “The Two Creek Ranch is located south of Douglas and encompasses landscapes ranging from low-land riverfront property along the North Platte River to mountainous forest in the Laramie Range.”
The ranch provides habitat for nearly every big and trophy game animal, he continued.
Since its foundation in 1966, the Daly family has taken an active, innovative role in wildlife management, agricultural techniques and fostering public access, Pokallus shared.
“The Daly family works in conjunction with WGFD to aid in meeting wildlife management objectives and their property even served as a source population for wildlife turkey translocations.”
In the 1980s, the Two Creek Ranch opened two permanent public access areas along the North Platte River.
“In 1987, the ranch was one of the first ranches to launch a guest business coinciding with their working ranch, introducing guests from all of the world to their unique, rustic and outdoor lifestyle,” Pokallus shared.
“These actions only represent a fraction of the Daly family’s involvement of wildlife conservation and public access for hunting, fishing and outdoor culture in general,” Pokallus concluded. “It’s clear their actions are a reflection of their values and their lifestyle rooted in stewardship, conservation and a plan to share and perpetuate the traditions and culture we hold so dearly in the American West.”
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.