A new hard hitting short film is shedding light on the hardships of keeping one Wyoming Ranch up and running. The EO Bischoff Ranch, located in Northern Wyoming, has been through many highs and lows over the years. Just a few years ago, it was nearly all lost to bankruptcy. The University of Wyoming in Laramie created a film called MY WILD LAND: Bischoff Ranch as part of the Wyoming Migration Initiative.
The EO Bischoff Ranch is the focus of the film. The filmmakers interview ranch manager Tyrell Bischoff at the headquarters east of Lovell. The segment was filmed during winter calving season, so the Moss Ranch on the Bighorns wasn’t shown. However, there were plenty of aerial shots from above Devil’s Canyon.
The film chronicles the struggles of the EO Bischoff Ranch
Bischoff comments on the tough work of ranching and how it’s made more complicated by the locations of Moss Ranch and other areas owned by the family. These places are difficult to get to because they’re deeded land, forest Service leases, and BLM leases. “The day-to-day operations wear on stuff,” Bishoff says in the film. “It’s hard to make a living in such rough country.”
According to Bischoff, the family was on the brink of bankruptcy 10-12 years ago. They had to put their ranch up for sale. He laments that this meant potentially losing everything their ancestors had worked for over their lifetimes.
With the help of ranch president Pam Kysar, the family was able to negotiate a conservation easement. This was through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This paid off their debt and allowed them to get back on their feet, according to Bischoff. “If we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t own it anymore,” Bischoff points out.
According to him, the easement protects undeveloped land and prevents housing developments from springing up erratically. The Bischoffs erected miles of four-wire fence, which is exponentially more beneficial for local wildlife. Bischoff notes that ranchers take care of the wild lands. They build fences, dig water projects, and clean up after recreationists who litter.
The filmmakers wanted to highlight Wyoming ranch life
Emily Reed and Patrick Rodgers are producers on the film. Both are part of the Wyoming Migration Initiative (WMI) Research team belonging to the College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources at University of Wyoming. The co-producers of a new three-part wildlife conservation film series decided to focus on the ranchers who actually do the work and live the stories.“There hasn’t been a lot of creative content about the lives that these ranchers live and the sacrifices they make so the big game species can persist and thrive,” Reed told Cowboy State Daily.
The three films all center around a different family-owned Wyoming ranch, specifically the Terry Creek Ranch near Laramie, the Hellyer family ranch outside of Lander, and the E.O. Bischoff Ranch near Lovell. She said that, at heart, the films are about two things central to Wyoming’s people: preserving wildlife and maintaining the ranching lifestyle. “It was just a treat for us to get to know these under-represented people and what they do for the wildlife and the landscape,” Reed explained.