Documentary showcases Wyoming ranchers
Several Wyoming ranchers and their dedication to conserving the land are highlighted in a new documentary series featuring Wyoming ranching families and their operations. “My Wild Land,” a three-part series, features the Terry Creek Ranch near Laramie, the Bischoff Ranch near Lovell and the Hellyer family ranch near Lander.
The series was produced by the Wyoming Migration Initiative (WMI) at the University of Wyoming and presented by Muley Fanatic Foundation with support from the outdoor equipment company Maven.
From 2000 to 2020, Wyoming’s total resident population grew by 17 percent and big game habitat has suffered due to the footprint of rural housing development. The series educates on conservation and highlights the unique perspectives of the landowners and their relationship to the land, in addition to challenges they have faced maintaining cattle operations and promoting wildlife habitats.
WMI Associate Research Scientist and “My Wild Land” Co-producer Emily Reed says the series was created to highlight private landowners and their commitment to conservation and land stewardship.
“The ranching community is a part of why wildlife migrations exist,” she says. “We want to highlight the sacrifices ranchers have made for the greater public to enjoy wildlife migrations and to be able to hunt them.”
Stewards of the land
WMI Associate Research Scientist and “My Wild Land” Co-producer Pat Rodgers wanted to bring attention to the work ranchers do for wildlife in the series and share their stories.
“These are people who aren’t only working for wildlife, but they are working to preserve and protect the ranching way of life and to keep open space for future generations,” says Rodgers. “These folks have worked to manage land for wildlife and open space.”
Ranchers highlighted in the film go “above and beyond” operating a successful livestock operation and managing land, which is a challenge in itself, he says.
Reed says wildlife is loved by many in Wyoming and makes the state what it is. She mentions ranchers are not always recognized for their stewardship practices and their contribution to wildlife habitats.
“We really were interested in doing a film series because there hasn’t been a lot of content produced about ag through film, in particular in Wyoming and across the West,” she says.
Each operation featured in the film is located in a different place geographically in Wyoming and highlights different types of operations.
“Each producer has made different decisions for conservation which work the best for them on their property,” says Reed. “It was cool to see the diversity of operations and diversity of conservation initiatives ranchers have undertaken.”
“The goal of WMI is to continue to share the diversity of ranching operations and stories and the diversity in conservation initiatives out there helping different properties at different times,” she continues.
The Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation, Greater Yellowstone Coalition and WMI hosted the first screening at the Teton County Library in Jackson on Sept. 1.
“The showing in Jackson was a full house,” says Rodgers. “It was a really great, engaging community event.”
He says people were excited about conservation topics and engaged in discussion with other members of their community at the screening.
“We were really excited to see how much people care about this issue and how we are going to keep this land for the future,” he says.
The next screening is Sept. 22 at the Gryphon Theatre in Laramie at 6 p.m., with doors opening at 5:30 p.m., hosted by the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust and WMI.
The following screening will be at the Lander Community and Convention Center in Lander Sept. 29 with doors opening at 6 p.m. and the film starting at 6:30 p.m. The Wyoming Wildlife Federation and WMI will host the screening.
Each event is free and open to the public and will include a free raffle, a question-and-answer session with ranchers and/or other partners working to maintain Wyoming’s working lands and a social hour with free food and beverages.
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.