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East Gros Ventre Butte

East Gros Ventre Butte [Photo: Jackson Hole Land Trust]

Protecting scenic vistas and sage grouse habitat in the heart of Jackson Hole
The East Gros Ventre Butte project is an exemplary case in which many pieces are coming together to secure permanent protection for a landscape-scale expanse of open space and sage grouse habitat. The project would conserve important wildlife habitat and scenic vistas on approximately 400 acres on the east face of East Gros Ventre Butte north of the Town of Jackson, which would be threatened by the extensive network of homesites and roads proposed for its entire eastern slope. Core areas for sage grouse, a Candidate Species for protection under the Endangered Species Act, crucial mule deer wintering range, and spring, summer and fall habitat for elk, moose, and bighorn sheep are found on the project property. The Butte’s location between the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park, flanked to the west by the relatively undeveloped Spring Gulch, make it a central wildlife migration corridor in the Jackson Hole. Rising above the National Wildlife Museum, this prominent landform is very visible from U.S. Highway 26/89/191 between the Town of Jackson and the southern entrance to Grand Teton National Park.

The East Gros Ventre Butte Project would extinguish all residential, industrial, and commercial development rights on the project-area properties, permanently eliminating the threat to wildlife habitat and conservation values of the land. Residential development of this property, if left unprotected, would severely compromise the wildlife benefits it provides and mar a signature gateway to Grand Teton National Park from Jackson. This property has been viewed as an important conservation property for years.

The East Gros Ventre Butte project area lies within the Jackson Core Area for the greater sage grouse, representing about 10% of the winter habitat for the Jackson population, and is used by wintering sage grouse from active leks in the Core Area. The project’s clear conservation benefit to sage grouse and other native wildlife species has inspired a partnership between the Jackson Hole Land Trust, WY Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust (WWNRT), The Conservation Fund’s Wyoming Sage Grouse Conservation Campaign, Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, local landowners, and private supporters in an effort to proactively conserve this important wildlife habitat.

The relationships that we have cultivated with private landowners, federal and state agencies, and private supporters to protect over 400 acres of the butte have led us to close in on the first phase of this project in FY 2013. This first phase is considered the keystone property of the project, at 181 acres, and the conservation easement placed on it would extinguish development rights on 5 homesites and access to another 70 acre parcel.

Project update, November 1st, 2013: The first phase of the East Gros Ventre Butte project is complete! Read the full press release here

Project update, March 11th, 2016: The second phase of the East Gros Ventre Butte project is complete as 62 newly protected acres on the eastern face of the butte will join the adjacent 181 acres protected in phase one. Read the full press release here

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Photo by David Stubbs©David Stubbs 2013