The University of Wyoming and Laramie communities have always been so generous and supportive, it makes me proud of being an alumnus myself. According to a recent release by the university, the institution has received a major gift from Joe Ricketts’ Jackson Fork Ranch that will support environmental stewardship and conservation across Wyoming, with an initial focus on the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

The substantial donation that will fund the Jackson Fork Ranch-University of Wyoming Research Project, will support the university’s conservation and biodiversity research throughout Wyoming, as well as help to increase public awareness of the unique value of biodiversity in the state and promote the importance of environmental stewardship as an enduring value.

The Jackson Fork Ranch and the Ricketts Conservation Foundation work with private and public agencies to study, protect and enhance the populations of at-risk species. Joe Ricketts, CEO of Jackson Fork Ranch expressed his excitement about the collaboration of Jackson Fork Ranch with the exceptional scientists at the University of Wyoming on this important project to inform conservation strategies for generations to come.

With the wide range of biodiversity in Wyoming not well studied, especially those lesser-known species that have a disproportionately large impact on ecosystem function and biodiversity, this financial commitment is god-sent.

UW President Ed Seidel said, “this remarkable gift from Joe Ricketts will have a profound impact on the success of our biodiversity programs at the University of Wyoming. It allows us to extend our reach, expand our research and make a greater impact on conserving and protecting our precious biodiversity. We are incredibly grateful for this support and are committed to using the contribution to make a positive difference in Wyoming and the world.”

The conservation projects will be focused on four areas:

  1. The first will focus on small and medium-sized mesocarnivores, which form an important but poorly known component of the state’s fauna and food web.
  2. A second focus area will be the ecosystem impact of American beavers.
  3. A third study will examine the impact of red squirrels on forest biodiversity. These conspicuous animals store food for winter in large piles of conifer cones and feeding debris called middens. These are biodiversity hotspots for small mammals, birds, and insects.
  4. Finally, the project will study golden eagles, an iconic avian predator across the western United States. The project will assess the distribution and productivity of these birds by intensive survey routes and the identification and observation of nest sites.

Beginning this year, by engaging outstanding UW researchers; training the next generation of wildlife conservation biologists; and sharing the research results with the world, this research aims to increase the understanding of biodiversity throughout Wyoming and grow sustainable conservation tourism in the region.

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