NFWF Announces $1.5 Million in Grants to Improve Grasslands, Wildlife Habitat, and Grazing Management in the Intermountain West

Five grants awarded through the Rocky Mountain Rangelands Program will improve sagebrush rangelands, big game migration corridors, and mesic and wet meadow

DENVER, Nov. 29, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced $1.5 million in grants to restore, improve and conserve sagebrush, mesic wet meadow and big game migratory corridor habitats in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. The grants will generate $2.5 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of $4 million.

“The Intermountain West is a region rich with wildlife and unique habitats,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Through voluntary collaborations and impactful grants such as these, we can make major progress toward conserving and restoring this important working landscape and providing improved habitat for native species including elk, mule deer, sage-grouse and songbirds.”

Today’s grants were awarded through the Rocky Mountain Rangelands Program, a partnership between NFWF, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Cargill and the Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation.

“The BLM is committed to working with diverse partners across the West to protect and restore habitat and biodiversity, address invasive species and ensure wildlife has room to roam well into the future,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “We look forward to continuing these collaborations on behalf of our nation’s public lands and all that depend upon them.”

Working closely and on a voluntary basis with private landowners, the Rocky Mountain Rangelands Program was established in 2019 to conserve and restore habitat for wildlife adapted to harsh climates that often require large open spaces to sustain their populations. With today’s commitments from funders, the grants awarded through the NFWF Rocky Mountain Rangelands Program have the potential to sequester up to 107,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents by 2030.

“At Darden, we’re committed to doing our part to protect our planet for future generations,” said Bryan Valladares, Director of Sustainability at Darden Restaurants. “We’re proud to support the work that NFWF is leading to help promote climate resiliency by restoring grazing lands in the Rocky Mountain Rangelands and enhancing conservation projects in this vital ecosystem.”

The projects supported by the five grants announced today address three program priorities, including: meadow wetland habitat restoration; management and/or local eradication of invasive annual grasses on sagebrush rangelands; and technical assistance to conserve habitat through easements. Together, these five grants will:

  • Remove or improve 28 miles of fencing to open up wildlife migration corridors
  • Restore more than 19,356 acres of rangelands with native grasses, forbs and brush
  • Improve grazing management on 37,500 acres of land for cattle and wildlife
  • Treat 53,000 acres to remove annual invasive plant species
  • Install six water tanks to provide alternate water sources for livestock and improve livestock management

“Restoring and maintaining a sustainable, natural ecosystem for wildlife and livestock to cohabitate is a top priority for Cargill,” said Jeffrey Fitzpatrick, BeefUp Sustainability Program Lead, Cargill. “As part of the BeefUp Sustainability initiative, we continue to focus our efforts on bringing together the programs and partners that can make the most significant impact on climate change. It is exactly these types of public-private partnerships, connecting the right resources to the right organizations, that support that type of environment, building an agricultural supply chain to feed the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way.”

Rocky Mountain Rangelands Program 2022 grant recipients include:

  • Pheasants Forever (receiving two grants), to (1) restore rangelands in southern and central Idaho by removing invasive annual cheatgrass and reseeding native grasses to benefit sage-grouse and other native species; and (2) remove invasive western juniper in southwestern Idaho to restore greater sage-grouse habitat.
  • Grand Teton National Park Foundation, to restore a previously cultivated section of the Kelly Hayfields in Grand Teton National Park to benefit bison, elk, pronghorn, sage-grouse, songbirds and other native wildlife through replanting native grasses, fobs and shrubs.
  • National Audubon Society, to implement replicable grazing/seeding techniques and infrastructure to increase native forage and protect riparian habitat to benefit greater sage-grouse and other native species in Utah and Wyoming.
  • The Mule Deer Foundation, to enhance rangeland habitat across the Rocky Mountain Region to benefit mule deer, sage-grouse, and other native wildlife species through fencing removal, replanting native sagebrush, and management of invasive annual grasses and juniper.

Learn more about the Rocky Mountain Rangelands Program here, and more about the grants announced today here.


About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) works with the public and private sectors to sustain, restore and enhance the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats for current and future generations. Chartered by Congress in 1984, NFWF has grown to become the nation’s largest private conservation grant-maker, funding more than 20,400 projects and generating a total conservation impact of $7.4 billion. Learn more at

About Cargill 

Cargill helps the world’s food system work for you. We connect farmers with markets, customers with ingredients and families with daily essentials—from the foods they eat to the floors they walk on. Our 155,000 team members around the world innovate with purpose, empowering our partners and communities as we work to nourish the world in a safe, responsible, sustainability way.  

From the feed that reduces methane emissions to waste-based renewable fuels, the possibilities are boundless. But our values remain the same. We put people first. We reach higher. We do the right thing. It’s how we’ve met the needs of the people we call neighbors and the planet we call home for 157 years—and how we’ll do so for generations to come. For more information, visit and our News Center.

About Darden Restaurants and the Darden Foundation

Darden’s family of restaurants features some of the most recognizable and successful brands in full-service dining — Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and Eddie V’s. For more information, visit

The Darden Foundation works to bring to life our spirit of service through its philanthropic support of charitable organizations across the country. Since 1995, the Darden Foundation has awarded more than $100 million in grants to non-profit organizations such as Feeding America, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and American Red Cross.



CONTACT: Rob Blumenthal National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (202) 857-0166 [email protected] 

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