CHEYENNE – Concerned about the threat of prime, agricultural landscapes being gobbled up by development, two Johnson County landowners took steps to save their iconic Wyoming ranch lands.

Marking the first Johnson County conservation easements held by the Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust, Kevin and Judy Lund donated 2,240 acres comprising Powder River Ranch and Fourmile Creek Ranch east of Kaycee.

“Much of our river acreage is prime development land and we wanted to make sure it stayed a ranch forever,” Judy Lund said. “Keeping the land as a ranch is what we work toward and what we have achieved through this easement.”

The newly conserved ranch lands have been in the Lund family for more than 70 years, and are home to many interesting natural, agricultural and historical features. The productive cow/calf operation supports a diverse variety of domestic stock including cattle, horses, sheep, goats and the occasional yak.

It is also land that has impacted dozens of lives.

“It’s amazing to stop and think about how many lives this place has touched,” Kevin Lund said. “Families used to send their kids to work on the ranch. Until my folks passed away, they’d get a dozen Christmas cards from people who still remembered my folks and the ranch.”

The Powder River Ranch is situated directly on the river and contains wetlands, irrigated hay fields, cottonwood-gallery forests and upland range. In addition to the domestic stock, it supports abundant wildlife including thriving herds of both whitetail and mule deer.

Fourmile Creek Ranch lies several miles north and contains vast, rolling plains of mixed-grass prairie rangeland.  Standing on the Fourmile Creek property, the view is broken only by the Bighorn Mountains to the west and Pumpkin Buttes to the east.

“We are very pleased to accept the gift of these conservation easements, our first in Johnson County,” Stock Growers Ag Land Trust Southeast Field Representative Leah Burgess said. “Under the excellent stewardship of the Lund family, the properties have come to exemplify the very best of Wyoming; they are productive, diverse, scenic and historically unique places that provide both a window to the past, and now, a view to the future of protected ranch lands in Johnson County.”

The Lunds’ generous contribution brings the Stock Growers Ag Land Trust’s protected working lands to 112,408 acres.