Wyoming film wins award

Erin Mullins

The documentary film series “My Wild Land,” which features the Bischoff Ranch near Lovell, was the first-place winner for 2023 conservation media awards by Two Percent for Conservation in the film and photo category. 

Patrick Rodgers, co-producer for the film and scientist with the Wyoming Migration Initiative, an initiative to increase public outreach surrounding Wyoming migration, said it was a surprise to win the award. 

“It is a bit of a surprise because I’ve followed this award over the last couple of years and have seen some of the other films that have won. They’re really top notch with some strong backing, and we’re a pretty small group here at Wyoming Migration Initiative,” Rodgers said. “We just wanted to tell really authentic stories about Wyoming people, and I think our films do that well, but we don’t have big budgets.”

The film is a three-part series that focuses on three ranches throughout Wyoming, the Terry Creek Ranch near Laramie, the Bischoff Ranch near Lovell and the Hellyer family ranch near Lander, he said. The goal of the series is to highlight ranchers who have gone above and beyond to do work for wildlife and open space. 

Tyrell Bischoff, ranch manager at the Bischoff Ranch, was interviewed in the documentary about what work looks like on a ranch, Rodgers said. 

“They’ve got their work cut out for them, that’s for sure,” he said. “[Tyrell’s] out there early mornings, late nights, all kinds of conditions. One of their summer properties, to access it, they have to drop down to this 1,000-foot-deep canyon. So, you know, getting equipment and supplies and things up there is pretty risky, and working alone up there is also pretty risky.”

The Bischoffs have taken extra steps to keep their land open using conservation easements, a voluntary legal agreement that permanently limits use of land in order to protect conservation values, Rodgers said. The easements have helped the ranch to remain soluble and are beneficial to many species including elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep and sage grouse. 

Additionally, the Bischoffs have modified fencing so that wild animals can roam more freely through their property, which requires a lot of money and time, he said. In the film, Tyrell shared the difficulties of losing his father to cancer and subsequently trying to keep the ranch in family hands.

Two Percent for Conservation is a nonprofit based out of Montana that certifies brands and individuals that give at least one percent of their time and one percent of their money to fish and wildlife conservation, Rodgers said. The nonprofit does not work directly in conservation, it only certifies businesses. 

One of the things the nonprofit is looking for in the films they award is there being a ground impact or social change toward conservation, he said. The filmmakers took the film to theaters local to ranches filmed, which had a big impact on local communities and winning the award, Rodgers said. 

The film was produced by Emily Reed and Patrick Rodgers and presented by the Muley Fanatic Foundation with support from Maven.