Nature Conservancy partnership in Lander to bring economic, agricultural and conservation wins

From left: Antonia, Rhett and K.D. Abernathy; Elena, Avery, Clementine, and John Coffman; Emma, Amber, Lauren, Garric, Braden, and Ty Martin. Photo provided.

(Lander, Wyo.) The Nature Conservancy is pleased to announce John Coffman is its new Southern Wyoming Land Steward. In this post, Coffman will develop and oversee management of the Conservancy’s properties in the region including Red Canyon Ranch, Winchester Ranch and Sweetwater River Preserve. A key part of his role will be collaborating with two young producers (Limestone Cattle Company) as they take over livestock and grazing management at Red Canyon Ranch, south of Lander.

“We know firsthand the challenges public lands ranchers face with volatile markets and unpredictable weather,” says John Coffman. “This partnership enables young producers to build a successful business while conserving land and waters. Working with these families supports our economic, agricultural and conservation goals.”

Cousins Rhett Abernathy and Garric Martin are excited about this opportunity to work with Coffman on the Red Canyon Ranch. “I’m a 5th generation rancher in Wyoming,” says Rhett Abernathy. “Ranching is all I’ve ever wanted to do. This opens the door to our future.”

“The rangeland is excellent and it’s home to some of the best mountain grass in the state,” adds Garric Martin. “We’re grateful to The Nature Conservancy for this opportunity. Without this partnership, it would be virtually impossible for us to start our own ranching business.”

In addition to managing sustainable lands, Coffman will work to inspire people through community outreach, education and research on Conservancy properties. “I’m working with local teachers to develop interactive events that will engage young people,” says Coffman. Plans are underway for a Bioblitz at Red Canyon Ranch, which will bring children and adults out on ranch to count plants, bugs, lizards, and fish. Additionally, scientific research is always happening at the ranch. One project is focused on grazing methods and how they relate to native bees.

“My hope is to teach people how recognize and sustain a healthy and productive ranch while inspiring connections to the natural world. We all know that if people care about this special places, they’ll work to conserve it,” says Coffman. 

Coffman has a master’s degree in biology and an undergraduate degree in geography. He and his family live in Lander.