Jump menu

Main content |  back to top

News and Media Releases

Greening the Wild West

The Wyoming countryside is home to deer, elk, antelope and rare birds. Nature-lovers enjoy the scenery and working cowboys, such as Gary Zatonik, rely on the land to raise cattle. But water is chronically scarce. A Shell-funded project to enrich the land offers hope.

Out past America’s Great Plains, overlapping the Rocky Mountains, the state of Wyoming is still a lot like the “old west” of the movies. It’s rugged, windswept, a wide open land, rich both in nature and natural resources. Famous as the home of Yellowstone Park, the “Cowboy State,” as it’s known, is mostly rural, home to mountains and broad valleys, wildlife and ranches, but few cities. Winters are cold, summers dry and so water is often scarce.

Shell produces natural gas around Pinedale in the west of Wyoming. It supports numerous local projects and programs to limit its environmental and community impacts. 

In 2008, the company expanded its support with a half-million-dollar donation for habitat improvements across 200,000 acres of the upper Green River Basin to the south. These improvements include sprinkler systems that help ranchers grow fodder for their cattle. 

A health plan

The money is administered by the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust as part of the Healthy Lands Initiative. This federal government program aims to preserve and improve the health, diversity and productivity of public and private lands in the western USA. The trust works with local landowners and other conservation organizations.

Gary Zakotnik is one of those landowners. A professional cowboy with more than a century of ties to his land in the Eden Valley, cattle ranching has been his family’s livelihood for generations. He was concerned about how the land would continue to sustain his cattle and local wildlife into the future.

He credits Shell and the program for improvements made, especially in water management. These help his land better support cattle as well as improving habitat for wildlife such as deer, elk, antelope and the increasingly rare sage grouse.

RELATED LINKS

The Pinedale Anticline Project Area (PAPA) is the 3rd largest gas field in the United Sates and provides vital energy for the country.

The Pinedale Anticline Project Area (PAPA) is the 3rd largest gas field in the United Sates and provides vital energy for the country.