Gill family recognized as Landowner of the Year

JACKSON, Wyo. – Wyoming Game and Fish Department recognized the Gill family of the Jackson Hole Hereford Ranch as their 2019 Landowner of the Year for the Jackson Region. The Hereford Ranch was created in the late 1920s by Robert Bruce Porter and remains a family cattle operation in the valley to this day.

The Jackson Hole Hereford Ranch has generously allowed the Game and Fish Department to operate an elk feedground on their private property through the winter months for the last half-century. Every winter, some 800 elk gather at the Dog Creek Ranch property owned by the Gills. The space provided allows the department to spread animals out to practice low-density feeding that reduces the risk of disease transmission amongst the animals. The operation of the feedground also allows Game and Fish to greatly reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions on a notoriously-dangerous stretch of Highway 89 in the Snake River Canyon.

A fish ladder installed on the Gill property to facilitate movement of trout. Photo: WGFD // Mark Gocke

In addition to the challenges of getting elk through the winter, monitoring the status of Snake River cutthroat trout on private land is often difficult as well. Hereford Ranch has long-provided Game & Fish valuable access to critically important cutthroat spawning spring creeks. Over the years, the ranch has also conducted several habitat improvement projects in the spring creeks, which ultimately recruits more cutthroats to the Snake River.

The Jackson Hole Hereford Ranch has also been instrumental in assisting the Game and Fish in managing an ever-growing private land elk herd along the Snake River south of Jackson. With traditional private ranchlands becoming mixed with urban development, it is increasingly difficult for hunters to find safe places to hunt elk. The ranch understands the challenges of managing elk here and helps when needed, assisting department personnel with elk hazing/moving operations, allowing hunting opportunity to the public where applicable and working to minimize elk damage and comingling with cattle throughout the year.

A successful hunter and his family with an elk taken on the Hereford Ranch through the Wounded Warriors program. Photo: Savannah Gayle Photography

In recent years, the ranch has hosted a Wounded Warriors hunt, providing the opportunity for a veteran injured in service to come out to the ranch on an all-expenses paid elk hunt. Past recipients of this program have been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity shown by the Gill family and employees of the ranch. The ranch has also served as a great option for elderly and youth hunters to harvest an elk.

“Our long-standing partnership with the Jackson Hole Hereford Ranch makes it our privilege to recognize the Robert Gill family, along with ranch managers Steve Hardeman and Alex Renova, as our 2019 Landowner of the Year,” said Jackson Region Wildlife Supervisor, Brad Hovinga.

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