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Strategic Ranchland
in the Rocky Mountain West
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Mapping the Threats to Prime Ranchland in Seven Western States

Because mountain ranchland is relatively scarce and offers highly valued community and ecological services - its conservation is important. Our study found that:

  • Strategic ranchland at risk is concentrated in high mountain valleys and the mixed grassland areas surrounding major mountain ranges in the region.
  • Prime ranchland is threatened in all seven Rocky Mountain states. Montana and Idaho contain the greatest amount of strategic ranchland at risk (over 5 million acres each), followed by Colorado (4.8 million acres).
  • The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) hosts a significant portion of the Rocky Mountain region's strategic ranchland at risk. 10 of the top 25 counties fall within the GYE.

Strategic Ranchland at Risk in
25 Rocky Mountain Counties
,1 2000-2020

   
Strategic Ranchland at Risk
Rank2 County, State
Acres in county
As % of county land area
As % of state’s strategic ranchland
1 Gallatin, MT
544,640
32
11
2 Beaverhead, MT
512,000
14
10
3 Madison, MT
481,920
21
10
4 Colfax, NM
420,480
17
16
5 Lewis & Clark, MT
387,840
17
8
6 Park, MT
386,560
22
8
7 Sanpete, UT
376,320
37
11
8 Pinal, AZ
355,200
10
25
9 Missoula, MT
341,760
21
7
10 Millard, UT
341,760
8
10
11 Jefferson, MT
341,760
32
7
12 Saguache, CO
341,120
17
7
13 Sublette, WY
336,000
11
13
14 Bingham, ID
336,000
25
7
15 Park, WY
334,080
7
13
16 Rio Arriba, NM
334,080
9
13
17 Idaho, ID
325,120
6
6
18 Duchesne, UT
318,080
15
9
19 Uinta, WY
315,520
24
12
20 Big Horn, WY
308,480
15
12
21 Fremont, WY
296,960
5
11
22 Montrose, CO
295,040
21
6
23 Summit, UT
295,040
25
9
24 Iron, UT
277,760
13
8
25 Cassia, ID
275,840
17
5
  Total, top 25 counties
8,879,360
13
35

1 Top 25 of 263 counties in the seven-state area.
2 Ranking based on total prime ranchland area found to be threatened.

Notes: Due to data limitations, this analysis does not include ground water information in evaluating prime ranchlands and, therefore, may not show high production values on ground water dependent ranchlands. Due to data limitations and financial constraints, this analysis may classify row crop lands as ranchlands in highly integrated agricultural ecosystems.

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