FORT RILEY, Kan. - A big blue, clear sky overlooked the more than 6,700 acres of rolling hills covered by native tall grass prairie at Moyer Ranch, located about five miles south of Fort Riley July 22.

State, local and Fort Riley leaders, along with legal aides, joined ranchers for a conservation easement signing, which will preserve the land owned by Rod Moyer of Junction City.

This signing will permanently protect the acreage from future development thanks to a partnership between the Kansas Land Trust, Fort Riley's Army Compatible Use Buffer program, Natural Resources and Conservation Service, Farm and Ranchland Protection program and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and an organization restricting the type and amount of development which may take place on a property. The land ownership doesn't change by signing the easement, however, the terms of the easement will become a permanent part of the property's title.

The concern, which initiated the easement, was the development of a wind farm on Moyer Ranch, which would interfere with the recently installed radar system at Marshall Army Airfield.

From now on, the Kansas Land Trust will oversee the agreement restrictions of the easement according to Moyer's wishes for current and future landowners.

Moyer continues the Family tradition of Kansas farming and ranching, which began in 1912 on land near the Tuttle Creek Lake. Upon his recent decision to retire, Moyer's Family members weren't interested in taking over his position.

"While my Family is interested in seeing their heritage and this land being preserved for future generations, they're not interested in operating the ranch," Moyer said.

Due to his Family's lack of interest in running the ranch, Moyer researched other possibilities for preserving their land. The best decision for Moyer and the Family's land was to work with the Kansas Land Trust.

"Through conservation and hard work, we're going to make sure this land is transferred to the next generation in good stead," Moyer said. "I travel around the country and the world on behalf of the Army," said Addison D. Davis IV, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health. "What we're seeing here today is something very, very special."

Davis added a thank you to Moyer for making the decision to follow through with the conservation easement.

"I can think of no greater American for us to be here to celebrate this with than Rod Moyer," Davis said.

Other speakers at the easement ceremony included Kansas Lt. Governor Troy Findley, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks secretary Mike Hayden and Brig. Gen. David C. Petersen, deputy commanding general - rear, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley.

Trey Allen, Moyer Ranch foreman, closed the event with his cowboy poetry to sum up the day's festivities.

"No matter what is reaped or sown, progress may just be best measured by the things we leave alone," he said.