By working with willing landowners in the Wind River watershed, using its experience and credentials, and encouraging a community focus, the Wind River Program provides the Jackson Hole Land Trust with an opportunity to continue its much-admired protection work in a neighboring valley just over Togwotee Pass.
About the Wind River Program of the Jackson Hole Land Trust:
The Wind River Program is the Dubois office of the Jackson Hole Land Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the open space, agricultural, scenic, and wildlife values in and around Jackson Hole and the Greater Yellowstone Area. The community-oriented Wind River Program was initiated in 2007 to protect the unique character and conservation values of the Wind River watershed. To date, over 2,750 acres have been protected in this area.
For more information about the Wind River Program:
Comprised of eight members of the Dubois community representing the diverse interests of realtors, ranchers, merchants, outfitters, contractors, and guest ranchers, the Wind River Program’s advisory committee provides ongoing expertise and perspectives on local issues.
“The land, water, wildlife, and scenery surrounding the headwaters of the Wind River are the backbone of our community, our economy, and our way of life. We respect the unique and diverse character, traditions and historical heritage of private property in the valley. We strive to foster a sustainable environment and a vibrant economy while working with willing landowners and providing opportunities for the voluntary conservation of open space, wildlife habit, and farm and ranch lands into the future.” – Wind River Program Advisory Committee statement
What has been accomplished?
Over time, the Jackson Hole Land Trust has expanded our program area to include Western Wyoming landscapes, recognizing the ecological connectivity within the Greater Yellowstone Area as a whole, and creating the Wind River Program of the Jackson Hole Land Trust in 2007.
In 1995, the Land Trust accepted the gift of a conservation easement on the Three Spear Ranch, protecting 1,200 acres between the town of Dubois and the public lands of the Wind River Mountains. In 2007, the Land Trust received the donation of a 100-acre easement on the Wind River Ranch along the Wind River, east of Dubois, protecting scenic open space along Highway 26, and Byrd Draw in the valley’s colorful badlands which is important habitat for bighorn sheep.
In 2005, the Land Trust worked out an innovative partnership with Bob and Kate Lucas and The Nature Conservancy, resulting in the Lucas’ gaining title to easement-protected grazing acreage north of Dubois, and preservation of 340 acres of the U Lazy U Ranch, one of the last working ranches in Jackson, ensuring agricultural use of both properties into the future.
In 2009, the remarkable scenic, cultural, wildlife and recreational treasures of the 420-acre Ring Lake Ranch in the Torrey Creek Valley were protected with an easement. In early 2010, the adjacent Torrey Lake Ranch’s 940 acres were added to the broad landscape of protected properties. The Torrey Creek drainage is critical winter habitat for the legendary Whiskey Mountain herd of bighorn sheep. These two easements in the Torrey Creek drainage were accomplished in partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, the Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the Wyoming Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center, the Dubois Anglers and Wildlife Group, the Mule Deer Foundation, and private donors.
In 2011, over $12 million in state and federal funding was awarded to easement projects facilitated through the Wind River Program for active protection projects in Fremont County.
In 2014, a 78-acre property along the Wind River and the base of the colorful badlands outside of Dubois was protected through a donated easement by the Brigham family, ensuring that its scenic and wildlife values are protected in perpetuity.
As our work continues to gain acceptance and visibility in Wind River country, an area known to be important wintering grounds for wildlife from an extensive portion of western Wyoming, opportunities for protection projects abound and continue to gain momentum.