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Success Story

Grass Highway for Elk Migrations

The Thunder Basin National Grassland is located in northeastern Wyoming in the Powder River Basin between the Big Horn Mountains and the Black Hills. Elevation on the national grassland ranges from 3,600 to 5,200 feet, and the climate is semi-arid.

Yellowstone's Cody elk herd makes one of "the longest migrations of elk we know about in the lower 48 states," according to Arthur Middleton, an assistant professor of wildlife management and policy at UC Berkeley and trustee at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, who has studied them extensively for nearly two decades.

The elk do not distinguish between public and private land. But elk carry brucellosis - when they get trapped by fences on private land, they pose a risk to ranchers in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. 

Rancher Mick McCarty and Wyoming Game & Fish Department disease biologist Eric Maichak had an unusual idea: what if they used wildlife-friendly fencing to make it easier to get elk out when they wanted them out? Through RCPP, the Nature Conservancy was able to distribute funding for the project, while NRCS provided key technical support.

Additional Information

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is a partner-driven approach to conservation that funds solutions to natural resource challenges on agricultural land. By leveraging collective resources and collaborating on common goals, RCPP demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships in delivering results for agriculture and conservation.