A Wyoming-produced film series on ranchers who have taken on conservation projects for wildlife recently received a national film and media award.
“My Wild Land” was selected by Two Percent for Conservation as the first-place winner of its 2023 Conservation Media Awards for film and photography. Two Percent for Conservation is a nonprofit organization that certifies dedicated conservationists who give at least 1 percent of their time and at least 1 percent of their money to conservation organizations.
“My Wild Land” is a three-part series featuring ranches from across Wyoming: the Terry Creek Ranch near Laramie, the Bischoff Ranch near Lovell and the Hellyer family ranch near Lander. The films, produced by the Wyoming Migration Initiative at the University of Wyoming, were previously named official selections of the Wyoming International Film Festival and the 307 International Film Festival.
Terry Creek Ranch also was an official selection of the Wild and Working Lands Film Festival presented by UW’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources.
The films are presented by the Muley Fanatic Foundation with support from Maven. The effort was launched to tell the story of wildlife conservation on private lands amid rapid rural-residential development and habitat loss across Western states in recent years.
“The glimpse of insight these films provide to the stewardship responsibilities and efforts to further active conservation pursuits is worth celebration,” says Joshua Coursey, president and CEO of the Muley Fanatic Foundation. “In a day and age where habitat fragmentation is occurring rapidly, these films offer a breath of fresh air for what we know works in sustaining healthy wildlife populations: large open spaces.”
Each film shares the unique perspective of the landowners, their relationships to the land and the challenges they’ve faced while maintaining cattle operations and promoting wildlife habitat.
“The ranchers and the lessees of these properties are the ones who are taking care of the land — they’re the ones out there doing the waterline projects and the fencing projects,” says Tyrell Bischoff, manager of the Bischoff Ranch and one of the film series’ featured ranchers.
The narratives highlight the importance of working lands to Wyoming’s migratory wildlife populations.
“Many of Wyoming’s wildlife move across a mix of public and private ranchlands,” says Emily Reed, co-producer of the film series and now conservation project manager with Jackson Hole Land Trust. “The work of ranchers to steward their lands and maintain connected habitats is critical for wildlife populations, and we wanted to help tell that story.”
“We want to extend our gratitude to the landowners and their families who shared their stories for this film series,” says Patrick Rodgers, co-producer of the film series and a Wyoming Migration Initiative associate research scientist. “Their dedication to ensuring the future of open spaces, ranching heritage in the American West and wildlife conservation is truly inspiring.”
The films are available online for free public viewing at www.vimeo.com/showcase/MyWild.
The award comes as the Wyoming Migration Initiative recently released a new film on large-mammal migrations around Grand Teton National Park.