Project Report:
Wildlife Conflict Resolution and Western Waters Program 2023/2024
Grand Staircase Escalante

- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Investigates the effect of the global financial system and/or the monetary system in fostering a sustainable economy.
- Investigates causes tending to destroy or impair the free-market system.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.


The NWF Wildlife Conflict Resolution program resolves conflicts between wildlife and livestock through the market-based approach of compensating ranchers for retiring high conflict grazing leases on federal land. Thanks to over a decade of funding from the Walker Foundation,we have retired over 75 grazing allotments totaling over 1.6 million acres. In 2017 NWF launched the WCR Southern Rockies, Colorado Plateau and Great Basin program and in the coming year we will pilot a new strategy in Grand Staircase-Escalante National and Bears Ears National Monuments in southern Utah that we will include "AUM buy-downs," but will also include the full retirement of grazing allotments.


Project report 6/11/24. This grant is providing support for two programs. One is to support the negotiation of grazing allotment retirements in Grand Staircase-Escalante (GSENM) and Bears National Monuments (BENM). The second is support for our Western Waters Program with a focus on beaver dam analog riparian restoration in the Colorado Basin.

Over the last eight months, NWF WCR staff have been working closely with our partner the Grand Canyon Trust to identify grazing allotment permit holders that would entertain a conversation about retiring their permits. We have contacted several on GSENM, but none have to date been interested in pursuing a further conservation. A few however, have communicated that they might be interested in the future. This is a common and promising response and we will maintain contact with these permittees. Also, the Grand Canyon Trust will be relinquishing at least one of its grazing permits setting a precedent. BLM as per the current GSENM presidential proclamation will close this allotment to future grazing. Although NWF did not incentivise the Trust in any way to make this decision, we did collaborate with them in lobbying BLM to commit to closing the allotment.

Our work in Bears Ears has arguably made more progress given that we are in negotiations with the Dalton family who hold permits to five allotments covering 765,435 acres. We met with the Daltons in January of this year and made an offer of $6.5 million which was not accepted. The Daltons came back and said that they only wanted to sell the largest allotment, which is 623,000 acres for well over $12million. As a result we are currently at an impasse, but are waiting for the issuance of the final Bears Ears Management Plan, which is expected in September or October. In the preferred alternative, grazing privileges would be restricted and might lead the Dalton family to re-enter negotiations. Although not included in this proposal, in December of 2023, we completed a deal that will retire 10 domestic sheep allotments in the San Juan Range in southwest Colorado. In addition, we are currently negotiating several large allotment retirements in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. Also of possible interest, we are exploring opportunities in the Gila region of New Mexico and expect to initiate a more concerted effort in this region in 2025.

Regarding the portion of the grant that is supporting the Western Water program, the bulk of the funding will fund the restoration of a 2 mile reach of Dry Fork Creek located on the High Lonesome Ranch (HLR) near De Beque, CO using low-tech process-based restoration (LTPBR) also known as beaver dam analog (BDA) methods to restore valley bottom river-wetland corridor function, riparian/wetlands/beaver habitat, improve water quality, and improve the quantity and quality of forage for livestock and wildlife. This work employs for approaches that have already started and will be completed by the end of October. This include 1) the installation of BDA structures to help restore a two-mile reach of stream and will seed the riparian habitat with native grasses and forbs; 2) address side erosion gullies that are contributing to the stream sediment loading with BDA methods such as Zeedyk rock structures, 3) replace 3 road culverts within the two-mile reach that are greatly contributing to the incision/erosion rates and impairing water quality, and 4) implement land and water ranch management BMPs for grazing, irrigation, and livestock watering to contribute to and maintain the success of the project. We are currently planning on a site visit with members of the Walker Foundation Board in September when much of the construction work will be occurring.


Beginning in 2001, NWF began using a market-based approach that recognized the economic value of grazing permits and offer to compensate ranchers for waiving their permit. We then receive assurances for from the agency that the allotment will not be restocked with livestock. In an effort to apply our model to new landscapes and to continue to innovate, we will adapt our allotment retirement model in Grand Staircase-Escalante National and Bears Ears National Monuments by testing what we are calling "AUM buy-downs." We should add that we are currently pursuing opportunities in both Monuments to fully retire several grazing allotments.


NWF has used this approach to address conflicts between large carnivores in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and beyond in the Northern Rockies for the last 22 years and in addition has employed the strategy to reduce conflicts between domestic and bighorn sheep. Because of the absence of large carnivores in the Southern Rockies and Great Basin, we have only focused on retiring domestic sheep allotments. With the recent proclamation re-constituting the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments in Utah, we will continue to invest time and resources in allotment retirement and AUM buy-down opportunities in Utah over the coming year. Please note that over the last year of outreach, we are starting to generate some exciting opportunities in these two Monuments (see most recent project report).

Amount Approved
$40,000.00 on 10/9/2023 (Check sent: 10/16/2023)

  Related Organizations
National Wildlife Federation  

Posted 9/19/2023 11:55 AM
Updated   6/17/2024 12:06 PM

  • Nonprofit

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