“This land is a key piece in the longest mule deer migration route ever recorded in the lower 48 states. Thanks to our many partners who came together to maintain this important route, and I want to appreciate Luke for what he did for wildlife and for the partnerships he created that led to this moment,” said Scott Talbott, Wyoming Game and Fish director.
The Conservation Fund moved quickly to purchase the 364-acre Fremont Lake property on the open market in April 2015, protecting it from subdivision and development, which could have cut off the crucial migration pathway. Researchers at the University of Wyoming had identified the Fremont Lake Bottleneck property as the most threatened portion in this internationally-significant bi-annual Red Desert to Hoback Mule Deer Migration.
Lead funding from the Knobloch Family Foundation along with significant contributions from the Wyoming Wildlife & Natural Resources Trust, Muley Fanatic Foundation, Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, George B. Storer Foundation, Packard Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation enabled The Conservation Fund to acquire, enhance and donate the property to Game and Fish this fall.
“Luke had a passion for the conservation of working ranchlands and for maintaining the connectivity of large animal migration routes,” said Mark W. Elsbree, Senior Vice President and Western Director for The Conservation Fund. “The new Luke Lynch WHMA is a tribute to his legacy and his hard work to maintain this incredible and enduring natural migration cycle, so it may live on for centuries to come.”
The Luke Lynch WHMA is planned to open to the public May 1, 2017, and is currently closed to until that date. The annual anticipated closure will be Dec.1–April 30, consistent with the nearby Soda Lake WHMA. This area will be open to hunting and other recreational pursuits. Between now and the opening date, Game and Fish will be working to prepare the area for public access.
“Game and Fish will be putting up public access signage, maintaining roads, and constructing parking areas and wildlife friendly fences,” said Miles Anderson, Pinedale Region Habitat and Access Supervisor. “We are working to keep the area as natural as possible for big game migration, so development will be limited to a minimum of access roads and parking areas.”
Other planned projects include cheatgrass spraying and habitat restoration. These are in addition to the projects already completed by The Conservation Fund before the transfer, such as elk fence improvements, removal of older infrastructure, development of a Sagebrush Habitat Enhancement Plan, reclamation of disturbed areas, and other administrative work.
About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 7.8 million acres of land. www.conservationfund.org
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