VIDEO: Wyoming family honored as Big Horn Basin 'Landowners of the Year' - Casper, WY Oil City News
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VIDEO: Wyoming family honored as Big Horn Basin ‘Landowners of the Year’

“John and Nancy Joyce were recognized as the Cody Region Landowner of the Year at a banquet following the September Game and Fish Commission meeting in Thermopolis. From left to right: Governor Mark Gordon, John Joyce, Nancy Joyce, Nick Scribner, Fish Passage Coordinator, Brian Nesvik, Director of Wyoming Game and Fish Department.” (Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

CASPER, Wyo. — John and Nancy Joyce have been recognized by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department as “Landowners of the Year” for the Big Horn Basin region.

The Joyces were nominated by Game and Fish Statewide Fish Passage Biologist Erin Leonetti.

“John and Nancy Joyce exemplify the kind of landowners who want to conserve and protect Wyoming’s wildlife and Game and Fish is proud to recognize them,” Leonetti said in Game and Fish’s announcement.

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The Joyce’s property is located east of Manderson along the Nowood River.

“The species rich Nowood River meanders through their property for seven miles supporting a cold and warm water fishery,” Game and Fish said. “The Nowood River supports up to twenty different species of fish including sauger, burbot, flathead chub, mountain sucker and smallmouth bass, to name a few.” 

“The Joyce family has over three river miles of the Nowood River enrolled as a walk-in fishing area and 371 acres enrolled in as a walk-in hunt area to hunt antelope and deer.”

The Joyces manage their property with help from their sons, according to Game and Fish.

“The family maintains 1,500 acres of land where they graze sheep and grow crops using water from the Harmony Ditch diversion off the Nowood River,” the department said. “In 2006 and 2007 an entrainment study was completed that estimated over 55,000 fish were entrained into the Harmony Ditch each irrigation season and permanently lost from the Nowood River fishery.”

Leonetti added:  “The Joyces are conservation minded and wanted to prevent the loss of fish down their canal, allow for year round passage in the Nowood River, and eliminate annual maintenance to divert water. They collaborated with Game and Fish to develop solutions to meet these goals and a project was designed that improved fish passage and sediment transport, reduced fish entrainment and annual maintenance, and stabilized approximately 1,200 feet of streambank.”

“The fish passage project was met with significant challenges and setbacks along the way. Through all the trials and tribulations however, the Joyce’s never wavered in their support and persevered to complete this project.”

Game and Fish gives Landowner of the Year awards to landowners “who have demonstrated outstanding practices in wildlife management, habitat improvement, and conservation techniques on their properties.”

“Award recipients are nominated by any department employee and selected by the regional leadership teams as model citizens for the conservation, ethical use, and stewardship of Wyoming’s natural resources,” Game and Fish says.

The department also shared the following video regarding the Joyce family: