It is with great sadness, that the Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust (“WSGALT”) shares news of the passing of its Board member, and founder, Dr. John Lunt.
“WSGALT has lost a longtime friend and partner,” said Mantha Phillips, WSGALT’s Chairman of the Board. “Dr. Lunt’s never ending desire to learn, to be better, to do more, and “get it done” attitude will be so missed. The level of his dedication to and his passion for the conservation of Wyoming ag producing lands was unrivaled. We will move forward in his absence having been given the gift of his knowledge and commitment to conserving Wyoming’s working family ranches and farms and the wide-open spaces, natural habitats, and rural communities they support.”
Dr. Lunt’s understanding of the crucial role that agriculture plays in conservation spawned a conservation movement in Wyoming that has protected vast working landscapes across this great state. His deep appreciation for Wyoming and agriculture can be traced back to 1946, when his parents purchased the Double 4 ranch, west of Wheatland, near the base of Laramie Peak. Here, he fell in love with Wyoming’s wide open-spaces and the abundant wildlife it protects.
He attended college in New York, where he graduated from Cornell University in 1950. He went on to attended Columbia University, College of Physicians, where he graduated in 1954. During medical school, Dr. Lunt enjoyed his summers back in Wyoming, working on ranches, nurturing his love for ranching and agriculture.
After medical school, he established a private practice in general surgery in Denver, Colorado, where he resided for the next 17 years. His love of Wyoming never waned, and in 1977, he moved to Saratoga. Here, he served the community for 21 years as its family physician. He was once quoted as saying “Every surgeon should have to do some years in family practice, because that’s where you really find out how to care for your patients.” Folks in Saratoga knew his kindness and dedication first hand. He never hesitated to make house calls, and always provided his patients the upmost care and attention.
In addition to his successful medical practice, he was passionate about Wyoming’s working landscapes. He keenly understood the importance agriculture played in protecting Wyoming’s natural attributes and way of life, and while in Saratoga, Dr. Lunt and his wife Susie fulfilled a lifetime dream and purchased the Highline Ranch. In 1998, they placed a conservation easement on the ranch, and in 2001, with the help of several likeminded ranchers in and around Saratoga, he founded the Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust. He wanted to create an agricultural land trust to conserve the productive working lands of the North Platte Valley that he had grown to love. He understood the importance of keeping productive ranches in agriculture forever, and his enthusiasm inspired regular organizational meetings of local ranchers.
Dr. Lunt was appointed to the first Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust Board of Directors in 2001 and served on the Board until his death. He was passionate about agricultural lands remaining in production. He once said, “For 130 years across Wyoming the hand of the rancher and farmer has been gentle, transformative, and landscape-enhancing; not because the early ranchers set out to be ‘environmentalists,’ but because their survival depended upon open working landscapes, irrigated meadows, and a healthy productive ecosystem…this landscape is what we inherit today.” Dr. Lunt was a 2009 recipient of the Kurt Bucholz Conservation award.
We at the Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust will forever be guided by the virtues and integrity Dr. Lunt instilled in our organization, and the memory of his dedication will serve as a catalyst, to continue the work that he started…to always to more…to always do better.