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Loper retires after 44 years

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Beginning during the Reagan administration, Dick Loper has made his home in Wyoming as a range consultant, helping and teaching ranchers about the benefits of range monitoring and stewardship.

For over 44 years, Loper has been committed to the health of Wyoming’s rangelands and the ranchers he has served. 

“I don’t think I have worked with anyone with more knowledge of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands than Loper. He has a wealth of information, and his memory is superb as far as understanding what happened in the past and where we are at today,” stated former State Grazing Board Chairman Keith Hamilton. 

“He always wanted to do what he thought was best for ranchers and didn’t want to step out on a limb without their knowledge,” Hamilton added.

Loper is best known across Wyoming for his rangeland consulting, federal agency cooperation and community involvement. 

“I have worked with Loper ever since he began his long career serving Wyoming public lands and the livestock industry,” Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna said.

As a rangeland consultant, Loper has served Wyoming’s farmers, ranchers and agricultural organizations throughout his entire career. 

He has worked with the BLM, permittees and other parties to advance livestock management and oversee the implementation of range improvements.

“His technical expertise and attention to detail have been invaluable and have positively impacted all permittees who graze sheep and cattle on BLM lands in Wyoming and across the West,” Magagna added.

Loper has also worked as a range consultant to the Wyoming State Grazing Board and has been involved in the organization since its creation.

“His countless hours in addressing laws, rules and directives have demonstrated his lifetime commitment to our industry,” noted Magagna.

Years of accomplishments

Since 1978, Loper has been helping local ranchers design grazing systems benefiting livestock, wildlife and the land which they graze on, a topic which has become more common over the years.

“I live in Lander now, but was born and raised in Kansas,” Loper stated. “I attended Colorado State University in the late 60s, and graduated in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in rangeland science. Then I went on to Kansas State University to continue my education in range science and receive my master’s degree.”

Loper, a Navy Veteran who served in the Vietnam War, also served as president and owner of Prairie Winds Consulting in Lander, where he provided assistance to protect natural resources, develop programs and create policies for rangeland use and preservation, all while advising officials and landowners on rangeland management practices. 

“I have worked with the best people in Wyoming and from around the West. It’s been the best part of the job,” Loper expressed. 

“I have known Loper and his wife Gail professionally and personally since the early 80s,” stated Pam Buline, a family friend.  “He dedicated his expertise and knowledge as a range specialist to encourage ranch families across Wyoming and different organizations to work cooperatively with the BLM and Wyoming state lands to address their challenges of grazing on public lands.”

She continued, “Loper’s work over the years has helped generations of ranchers, organizations and others navigate a complicated permitting process while still being good stewards of our public lands. I’ll miss working with him, but I’m happy he’s retiring after an amazing career.”

Continuously demonstrating his keen skillset, Loper has served on the Society for Range Management Select Task Force on Unity in Concepts, on the Select Committee of the Council for Agriculture Science and Technology and on the Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable.

“I was also a member of the Committee on Rangeland Classification, which played a crucial part in bringing national attention to rangeland health,” he noted.

The research from this committee formed the foundation of Standards of Healthy Rangelands, which gives both managers and users of public lands a clear goal for all users of BLM lands to achieve.

In 2013, Loper was inducted to the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame, where he was recognized for his commitment to rangeland health, and members of grazing boards across Wyoming praised him for his involvement in land issues across the state

Loper noted, “I have dedicated my career to helping ranchers make things better than they were before.”

A focus area for Loper’s research has been addressing range management and range science, where his primary area of focus was in natural resource management.

Over the years, he has been involved in several court cases as an advocate for ranchers, grazing and range management and has played an important role in advocating for policy issues as well.

Loper has been married to his wife Gail for 42 years and they have two daughters.

He shared, “It’s time for me to enjoy country living and do some fishing.” 

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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