Top 10 Craziest Land Conservation Efforts by Private Owners | askBAMLand

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Ever imagined your own Jurassic Park for conservation?

Picture the mightiest beasts of the lands, only instead of velociraptors, it's bison roaming on private land turned into a nature reserve.

Have you ever wondered how far some private landowners will go to conserve nature?

It's not just about setting aside a garden patch—these individuals and organizations transform vast expanses, sometimes thousands of acres of private land, into havens for wildlife and natural habitats.

You, fellow nature enthusiast, are about to embark on a journey through some of the most astonishing private land conservation efforts.

These extraordinary endeavors show how with passion, resources, and dedication, one can make a significant impact on preserving the world's biodiversity.

Ready for an adventure?

Key Takeaways

  • Uncover extraordinary efforts in private land conservation.
  • Learn about vast tracts of land transformed into wildlife havens.
  • Be inspired by the dedication of private landowners to nature conservation.

Table of Contents

Ted Turner’s Ranches, Western US

Did you know that Ted Turner, a media mogul you've probably heard of, owns an astounding amount of land dedicated to conservation efforts?

It’s over 2 million acres in the western United States!

Now, why should you care?

Well, what Turner has done with this land could be a game-changer for how we think about land management and conservation.

Turner's approach is not just about keeping the land for himself; it's a win-win for nature and business.

For instance, big news came out of New Mexico when a massive 315,000-acre conservation easement was set on Turner's Armendaris Ranch.

This collaborative move with the New Mexico Land Conservancy and the Department of Defense serves as a powerful example of private-public partnerships in land preservation.

On Turner ranches, you'll find:

  • Bison: Turner has been pivotal in the bison reintroduction efforts.
  • Hunting and Fishing: These aren't just hobbies; they're part of a sustainable business model.
  • Ecotourism: Interested in seeing what conservation looks like in action? Turner's ranches offer that opportunity.
  • Environmental Projects: From water resource management to the reintroduction of native species and sustainable timber management, Turner’s enterprises support a range of eco-friendly initiatives.

Vermejo Park Ranch, one of Turner's New Mexico properties, is his largest at 560,000 acres.

It's the most extensive privately owned, contiguous piece of land in the United States.

Fancy a mix of ecosystems ranging from desert grasslands to pine forests?

The Ladder Ranch is your ticket, with 156,000 acres bordering the Gila National Forest.

It also boasts diverse wildlife, and it's peppered with sites significant to archaeology.

Imagine having such vast expanses where you can witness thriving ecosystems that once faced extinction.

The forward-thinking and innovative conservation methods Ted Turner has put into place ensure his ranches are not just surviving but flourishing.

Isn't it incredible to think that one of the biggest names in media is also one of the biggest in land conservation?

The High Lonesome Ranch, Colorado

Have you heard about The High Lonesome Ranch in Colorado?

Well, if you're interested in conservation, this is like the heavyweight contender of land stewardship!

Spanning an impressive 300,000 acres, this ranch isn't just a stretch of land; it's a beacon of conservation effort lighting the way for private landowners everywhere.

Imagine a place where sustainability isn't just a buzzword but a way of life.

The folks at The High Lonesome Ranch have rolled up their sleeves and are working in close partnership with various conservation organizations to protect and restore habitats for wildlife.

Now, that's a pretty noble cause, don't you think?

Here's what they're up to:

  • Wildlife Management: Because every creature, big or small, is a VIP (Very Important Paw) at the ranch.
  • Sustainable Agriculture: Finding the balance that lets both the land and agriculture flourish.
  • Habitat Restoration: Turning back the clock on environmental impact, giving Mother Nature a helping hand.

Working with partners like the Western Landowners Alliance and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, The High Lonesome Ranch is a real-life case study of what can happen when private owners put their land to good use—for nature and for us.

Now, just picture riding through the ranch on horseback or hiking through valleys where the landscape speaks—and it tells a story of harmony and hope.

Isn’t that the kind of story we all want to be part of?

Remember, when private land is managed with such care, it's not just the acres that benefit—it's all of us.

So here's to the efforts of The High Lonesome Ranch, showing the world how it's done—one conservation victory at a time!

The Nature Conservancy’s Dugout Ranch, Utah

Ever wondered about a place where conservation meets cowboy culture?

Nestled in the heart of southeastern Utah, The Nature Conservancy’s Dugout Ranch paints just that picture.

Imagine over 5,200 acres of striking red rock canyons and buttes, perfect for your next 'save the planet' Instagram post.

So, what's happening at this expanse of wild wonder?

  • Sustainable Agriculture: Yep, this isn't just a scenic snapshot. The ranch is a living testament to sustainable agriculture, making sure those cows are just as happy as the cottonwood trees they're munching near.
  • Science Central: It's a science lover's paradise. With a variety of research projects, including climate change and land management practices, Dugout Ranch is a hub for knowledge buffs.

Now, get this: the ranch is not just home to plants and animals; it also boasts a rich history with the Redd family at its core.

The Redds sold the ranch to The Nature Conservancy back in 1997, and as part of the deal, the legendary Heidi Redd stayed on.

She's a true cowgirl who has been stewarding these lands ever since!

This commitment showcases how conservation can walk hand-in-hand with traditional ranching—an unconventional yet effective way to preserve our priceless landscapes.

Taking a closer look, this collaboration has:

  • Preserved a working ranch.
  • By cutting the cattle count from 1,000 to 500, they've shown that less can truly be more for the environment.

Fancy a read peppered with thrilling adventure and sage wisdom?

Heidi Redd's got you covered with her book, "A Cowgirl's Conservation Journey," chronicling the tales of Dugout Ranch.

Remember, it's more than just the scenery—it's about the legacy we leave behind.

So, ready to cowboy up for conservation?

Tompkins Conservation, Patagonia

Ever wandered through a lush forest or gazed out over a pristine lake and thought, “Wow, someone should really protect this place?” Well, let me introduce you to some folks who've turned that thought into an epic reality.

Meet the Tompkins, the power couple behind Tompkins Conservation.

Kris Tompkins and her late husband Doug have made waves in land conservation, especially in the stunning region of Patagonia.

Can you believe they've shielded over 14 million acres?

That's like creating your own country of wilderness!

Their journey is nothing short of a wild adventure; imagine swapping business suits for hiking boots and going all-in on nature.

Kris, the former CEO of Patagonia, and Doug didn’t just buy a few acres — they bought large swathes of land, chunk by chunk, to preserve the kind of places that make your heart skip a beat.

Their approach?

Buying land, restoring it to its natural glory, and then gifting it back as national parks.

It’s like coming full circle, but with more trees and happy animals.

These areas are now teeming with life and serve as a vital refuge for countless species.

Some highlights of their work include:

  • The creation of multiple national parks in South America.
  • Pioneering the rewilding of native ecosystems, getting them back to their old selves.

So, next time you're sipping on that eco-friendly coffee or tying up those hiking boots, take a moment to appreciate those like the Tompkins, who have quite literally changed the landscape of conservation.

They’ve turned the ‘wild’ in wildlife into a testament to what passion and dedication can do for our planet.

Ready to pack your bags and see their work firsthand?

Lyme Timber Company, New England

Have you ever wondered how a timber company can become a hero in the noteworthy sphere of land conservation?

Well, let me introduce you to the Lyme Timber Company, a beacon of sustainable forestry.

Spanning over an impressive 1.5 million acres in New England, these folks are not your average lumberjacks.

They are stewards of the forest, my friend.

Now, don't think for a second they're just hugging trees and singing "Kumbaya." Oh no, they mean business—sustainable business.

Their mastery lies in:

  • Sustainable Forestry Practices: They’re all about keeping those forests lush and full of life for generations to come.
  • Conservation Easements: Think of them as vows to the land — promises that the terrain remains protected, no matter who owns it down the line.
  • Habitat Restoration: This is where they roll up their sleeves and ensure that everything from the furry critters to the feathery birds has a safe pad to crash.

What's truly awesome is their skill in marrying profit and conservation.

They've recognized that the green in wallets doesn't have to clash with the green in our forests.

Here are a few cool highlights:

  • Established in 1976, their roots run deep.
  • Their land management is third-party certified because they understand that verification matters. They're not just talking the talk; they're walking the walk through woods they've vowed to protect.
  • And guess what? They do this while churning a profit. Yep, they've discovered that little sweet spot where financial returns and environmental stewardship are best buddies.

So next time you're sipping on maple syrup or cozying up in your wooden cabin, remember the Lyme Timber Company.

They're the quiet giants making sure New England's forests stay robust and, frankly, that's pretty cool.

The Biltmore Estate, North Carolina

Ever wondered what grand conservation looks like?

Peek at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, and you'll know!

Owned by the Vanderbilt family, this isn't just a colossal mansion—it’s an emblem of conservation on a private scale, stretching across 8,000 acres.

Picture this: an estate so vast it would take over 6,000 football fields to cover it!

But it's what they do with the land that's truly inspiring.

The estate's legacy centers on a deep commitment to the land with sustainable forestry practices, water conservation, and protection of wildlife habitats.

Did you know the estate has its own forest management plan?

Thanks to the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted and the expertise of Gifford Pinchot, America's first trained forester, the Biltmore played a pivotal role in what we call modern forestry management.

Here’s a quick glimpse at how the Biltmore juggles splendor and sustainability:

  • Forestry Management: This was the nation’s first managed forest, setting the precedent for conservation.
  • Sustainability: The estate's approach to water conservation and habitat protection is a model for others to follow.

But it's not all work and no play!

This place knows how to throw a party.

With a home boasting four acres of floor space, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces, plus three kitchens equipped with electric elevators, the Biltmore knows a thing or two about entertaining.

Are you impressed yet?

Because there's more.

The estate doesn't just talk the talk; they walk the walk—or should we say, they cultivate the walk, quite literally.

It's these very practices that earned Western North Carolina the title "Cradle of American Forestry."

So next time you're sipping tea and thinking about trees, remember the Biltmore Estate.

It's where luxury meets the legacy of land conservation.

Now, isn't that a breath of fresh air?

The Z Bar Ranch, Kansas

Have you ever set foot in the heart of America's prairie?

If not, let me take you on a mini-tour of one of the most ambitious land conservation projects out there.

Picture vast, unending stretches of tallgrass, the kind that pioneers once trekked across: welcome to the Z Bar Ranch in Kansas.

This isn’t just any piece of land; this is a hefty 60,000-acre property passionately preserved by the Nature Conservancy.

With such a vast area, you might wonder how they keep all that prairie in tip-top shape.

Well, these folks are no strangers to hard work.

They utilize controlled burns—yes, they literally set the prairie on fire, but in the safest way possible—to encourage growth.

Think of it as nature's way of hitting the refresh button!

The ranch is not just a pretty face; it's a powerhouse of habitat conservation.

Let's talk numbers; these guys don't mess around.

They’ve decided to bring in some heavyweights to help with the upkeep.

Enter the bison, nature’s very own furry lawnmowers.

Their grazing is a tried and tested method for keeping the grasslands as pristine as nature intended.

Now, you might be getting visions of a vast, empty field, but hold your horses!

The Z Bar Ranch is home to more than just grass.

It's a hotspot for learning about ecosystem services, and let me tell you, that's as cool as it sounds.

It basically means every critter from the ground up benefits from the work put into this place.

From the modest dung beetle to the mighty bison, it's all interconnected.

The ranch’s management practices aren't just to make the place look pretty; they're about making sure this ecosystem thrives for generations to come.

Visiting is a treat for the senses, and guess what?

You might even get a chance to witness those management practices in action.

It’s not every day you get to see conservation on such a grand scale, right?

So, if you're up for an adventure, and keen to learn about conservation that goes the distance, keep an eye out for eco-tourism opportunities at the Z Bar Ranch—it’s a real-life example of what committed conservation looks like in the vast, open prairies of Kansas.

Turner Endangered Species Fund, Various Locations

Have you heard about the powerhouse in private land conservation efforts?

Yes, I'm talking about Ted Turner's Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF).

With a vision to conserve biodiversity, this initiative is a game-changer in the world of wildlife preservation on private lands.

Imagine turning vast working landscapes into sanctuaries for the most vulnerable creatures.

That's precisely what TESF does!

For example, they've been hands-on with the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret, North America's most endangered mammal.

And guess what?

They’re making strides in bringing these little guys back from the brink of extinction.

Not just ferrets, they're also revitalizing prairie dog colonies—key ecosystems that a diverse array of species rely on.

Plus, the red-cockaded woodpecker owes its survival in certain areas to TESF's efforts.

These birds need very specific habitats, and Turner’s fund ensures they get just that.

Did I mention that Ted Turner owns over 2 million acres?

That's right!

This land is managed not just for profit but with a strong emphasis on conservation and restoration.

Every blade of grass, every burrow, every tree is accounted for in their mission to "Save Everything." It's a bold statement, but TESF's track record makes it a believable one.

From Ted's ranches across the United States to his properties in Argentina, conservation is at the forefront.

So, why does this matter to you?

Well, these initiatives on private lands prove that individuals and organizations can make a significant difference.

It’s about taking charge and giving nature a fighting chance.

What TESF is doing is nothing short of remarkable, and it showcases how private land management can align with global conservation goals.

Now, isn't that something to get excited about?

The American Prairie Reserve, Montana

Have you ever imagined a stretch of land so vast that it takes your breath away?

That's the American Prairie Reserve in Montana for you!

It's not just any plot of grass and dirt.

This place is on a mission to become the largest nature reserve in the lower 48 states.

Imagine, over 3 million acres of pure, untamed prairie available for generations to admire and explore.

Why should you care?

Well, this isn't just a patch of pretty scenery.

This reserve is a haven for all sorts of wildlife.

Bison, pronghorn antelope—sounds like a page from a wild west book, doesn't it?

And it's not just about animals grazing around; it's about restoring their natural habitat.

So, every step you take in this reserve is actually a step into a living, thriving ecosystem.

Now, I know you're thinking about those wide-open spaces and maybe yearning for a little adventure.

Good news!

The Prairie Reserve is open to you for various recreational activities.

Hiking, canoeing, bird watching—pick your adventure.

It's all part of the experience.

And here's the kicker: it's a private initiative.

Think big money funneled in the right direction, for the planet, for wildlife, and hey, for your next vacation too!

Local ranchers are joining in through the Wild Sky program, getting rewards for wildlife-friendly practices.

It's not just a smart move; it's got heart.

So, what do you say?

Ready to pull on those hiking boots and witness one of the most ambitious land conservation projects up close?

Just remember to tread lightly; after all, we're just visitors in the grand home of those bison and antelope.

Fast Facts:

  • Over 3 million acres of land
  • Focus on habitat restoration
  • Aims to be the largest in the contiguous U.S.
  • Bison and pronghorn galore!
  • Open for recreational fun
  • Funded by private contributions

It's not every day you come across a story of such scale and dedication, is it?

The American Prairie Reserve is nature conservation on a monumental level, all stitched together with a vision for the future that's as expansive as the Montana sky.

The Wildlands Network, Various Locations

Have you ever imagined wandering through wilderness that stretches over vast regions, where wildlife frolics freely across state lines?

This is no fairytale, it's the vision of the Wildlands Network.

They're stitching together a patchwork of habitats across North America for our furry and feathered friends to thrive.

Their mission?

Simple: create a world where nature doesn't hit a dead end.

Now, what's in their toolbox?

We're talking land purchases, conservation easements, and habitat restoration.

These folks are not just drawing lines on a map; they're partnering with private landowners to bridge the gaps between isolated pockets of wilderness.

Think of it as a matchmaking service for ecosystems!

So how big of a deal is this network?

The Wildlands Network is not just a few backyards strung together.

It spans across the United States and Mexico, covering diverse landscapes.

With 30 years of expertise, they offer more than just a corridor for critters; they're a beacon for biodiversity.

  • Ever heard of a wildlife corridor? Wildlands Network designs them like highways, but for animals, ensuring that paws and hooves can wander far and wide.
  • They go the whole nine yards, from forests to meadows, ensuring healthy and connected ecosystems.

Their strategy is not random; it's as calculated as your last chess move.

They have identified hotspots to maximize impact.

If that's not enough, they've even got a guidebook on connectivity policy.

States can crib notes from them on drafting effective laws to keep habitats linked up.

Hey, wouldn't it be neat to think that while you're commuting to work, there might be a bear commuting through land you helped connect?

Now that's a partnership with nature worth talking about!


Brittany Melling

Brittany Melling

Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.

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