Wyoming’s Rep. Sommers receives 2022 National Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award

Rep. Albert Sommers, Sublette County (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo – Albert Sommers, rancher and Wyoming House Majority Floor Leader, was honored with the 2022 National Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award.

On Monday, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced that it had nominated Sommers for the national award.

“Albert Sommers is a remarkable leader for local conservation, along with his outstanding representation on Wyoming boards, committees and the Legislature,” said Brian Nesvik, director of Wyoming Game and Fish. “He and his family have a fundamental understanding that an economically viable ranch and healthy wildlife habitats are not mutually exclusive. His practices and voice for wildlife are truly meaningful to the West.

“For these reasons, Game and Fish is proud that Rep. Sommers was recognized for his services to Wyoming. He is a role model for our state and nation in conservation practices.”

Sommers owns and operates a third-generation ranch in the Upper Green River Valley near Pinedale, Game and Fish said. The working ranch is 1,876 acres and is part of the largest conservation and public access easement in Wyoming, according to Game and Fish.

The Sommers-Grindstone Conservation Project that led to this conservation facilitation is an example of why Game and Fish nominated Sommers for the award. Sommers Ranch and a neighboring landowner trespassed all of their properties to create the easement in 2010.

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“In cooperation with additional landowners, the preserve’s footprint now surpasses 19,000 acres and covers nearly 30 square miles, making it the largest in Wyoming,” said John Lund, wildlife warden for the Game and Fish Pinedale region.

The lands in the preserve are located in two areas considered critical for wildlife in western Wyoming, including portions of the Sublette Mule Deer Migration Corridor, which is the longest designated mule deer corridor in the world, Game and Fish said. Sommers Ranch participated in the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, which aims to remove fences and implement other animal-friendly measures.

Anglers and hunters have access to the ranch through game and fish access management initiatives.

“Sommers, in partnership with the Grindstone Cattle Company, has provided five miles of walk-in fishing relief,” said Game and Fish. “The public area and boat launch is a way to access the Green River for swimming and shore fishing, which is extremely limited in the area. The ranch also offers small and big game hunting opportunities.”

Another example of why Game and Fish nominated Sommers for the national award is their approach to livestock.

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“Beginning in 1996, Sommers initiated a cooperative range monitoring program with the University of Wyoming,” the department said. “The volunteer group monitors conditions in the range, identifies problem areas and changes grazing if necessary to achieve goals with species like the sage grouse.”

Sommers Ranch has 26 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Game and Fish. The ranch welcomes community and school group tours to learn about its history, the ranching lifestyle and an appreciation for the great outdoors, the press release said.

Sommers served on the Wyoming Brucellosis Coordination Team, the Colorado River Basin Working Group, the Tri-Governor Committee on the Review of Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy, the Green River Basin Sage Grouse Working Group, and the Rock Springs BLM District Multiple Use Advisory Group, Added game and fish. He also helped form the Sublette County Invasive Species Task Force.

He has served on the Wyoming Livestock Board and has served as president of the Green River Valley Cattleman’s Association and the Upper Green River Valley Cattleman’s Association, Game and Fish said.

Sommers has received other awards related to conservation and stewardship, including the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Landowner of the Year, the Wyoming Leopold Conservation Award, and the Outstanding Contribution to Sage Grouse Initiative Award.

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“Rep. Sommers has spent his entire life living and working with wildlife in western Wyoming,” Lund said. “He understands and appreciates the role and importance of all wildlife in the landscape and strongly supports sensible conservation efforts to ensure a thriving wildlife population in the future. On behalf of Wyoming’s fish and wildlife community, I offer Rep. Sommers and his family the warmest congratulations – and thanks – to the department.”

The Wyoming Stockgrowers, the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, and the Muley Fanatic Foundation provided letters of endorsement to support Game and Fish’s nomination of Sommers for the 2022 National Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award.

“I have a great deal of respect for this landscape that I inhabit and the wildlife that cohabits with it,” Sommers told Game and Fish after learning about the award. “This landscape has defined who I am and what motivates me as a rancher and legislator. We are on the cusp of change in Wyoming, and I fear that that deep respect for the landscape that absorbs us who have lived for generations will disappear.”