Announcing our New President: Max Ludington

After a comprehensive nationwide search for the Jackson Hole Land Trust’s next leader, we’re thrilled to announce that Max Ludington will take on the role of president beginning next month.

Ludington comes to us as a proven leader in Northwest Wyoming conservation known for his commitment to collaboration. Most recently, Ludington launched and led Teton LegacyWorks, a regional initiative of the LegacyWorks Group focused on collaborative conservation projects and strategies to maximize the conservation impact of philanthropic and capital investments throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

“I am thrilled and humbled to be stepping into this position,” Ludington said. “When I first moved to this region 20 years ago, the dramatic open spaces and wild character of the area motivated me to pursue a career in conservation. As I have moved through that career, I have continued to admire the Jackson Hole Land Trust’s careful stewardship of our region’s resources.”

Following Laurie Andrew’s announcement that she would be stepping down as president in December 2019, the board of the JHLT established a search committee led by Second Vice Chair of the Board Lori Fields and selected Russell Reynolds Associates to lead the search and work with the JHLT board to select the best candidate possible for the position. Throughout the transition, Director of Conservation Liz Long, Chief Financial Officer Derek Schaefer, and Director of Advancement and Outreach Jenny Wolfrom Holladay provided strong leadership amidst a global pandemic as interim co-directors.

“While our search spanned from Washington D.C. to Alaska, we are excited and very pleased to have found such remarkable talent right in our backyard,” Fields and Shawn Smith, incoming chair of the JHLT’s board said in a statement. “Max not only has a love and passion for the mountains, valleys, and rivers we all call home, but also has a tremendous background in creating conservation and community partnerships across our region.”

The Jackson Hole Land Trust is wrapping up its 40th year of protecting the community open spaces, wildlife habitat, and agricultural heritage of Northwest Wyoming. With a thoughtful 5-year strategic plan adopted in 2018, incredible momentum on recent community conservation projects like Save the Block and the protection of 18 acres on High School Butte, as well as steadfast support of donors, partners, and the broader community, the Jackson Hole Land Trust is incredibly well poised for its next era of conservation impact with Max Ludington at the helm.

The Jackson Hole Land Trust anticipates Ludington’s start date in late October and will offer several opportunities for you to get to know him in his new capacity.

“I recognize that the Jackson Hole Land Trust’s legacy has been built through the incredible vision, generosity, and passion of this community,” Ludington reflected. “As I move into this role I am excited to meet the supporters, partners, and advocates who have made the JHLT’s work possible.”

Landowner Spotlight: Broken Arrow Ranch

Broken Arrow Ranch is 61 acres on the banks of the Hoback River, protected by a JHLT conservation easement since 1997. Randy Luskey purchased the property the year before for the City Kids Wilderness Project, a nonprofit founded on the belief that providing enriching life experiences for DC youth can enhance their lives, the lives of their families, and the greater community.

City Kids offers year-round programming for up to seven consecutive years per student. Each summer is spent at Broken Arrow Ranch, exploring the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and enjoying the peace of the ranch. Guy Trautman, ranch manager who grew up on the ranch and returned in 2001 reflected, “It’s just a great place to be a kid.” He finds that this welcoming nature of the ranch provides kids relief from the stressors of their city lives and allows them to drop their guard.

Guy also recognizes that the numerous conservation easements of the Bryan Flats area provide for the open space and plentiful wildlife that make the ranch special and welcoming to the campers. In addition, Trautman noted that he has only ever found one animal caught in the fence over all his years at Broken Arrow thanks to the wildlife-friendly fencing practices that go hand-in-hand with the conservation easement.

Though the camp is not open this summer due to COVID-19, they hope to bring students back next year and to welcome Guy’s protégé, Justin, as the new ranch manager.

Photo courtesy of City Kids Wilderness Project

18 Acres Protected on High School Butte

Jackson Hole Land Trust Safeguards Public Access through the Conservation of an 18-Acre Parcel on High School Butte

Community access and wildlife habitat protected at a favorite local recreation spot  

The Jackson Hole Land Trust announced today the purchase and protection of 18 acres of public access conservation land on High School Butte in the Town of Jackson. The parcel is located on the southwest-facing slopes of High School Butte and holds significant community, wildlife, and scenic conservation values. The conservation of the property will extinguish development rights, secure public access, and preserve an important refuge for wildlife above the light and noise from an increasingly dense residential area.

“While this parcel has been owned privately for decades, it has historically been accessed and used by the community as part of the High School Butte trails,” said Liz Long, interim co-director and director of conservation at the Jackson Hole Land Trust. “When this property went up for sale, we recognized it as a unique opportunity to formalize and safeguard public access to a piece of land that the community loves and uses regularly, while also protecting important wildlife acreage immediately adjacent to additional JHLT easement-protected properties.”

Accessible from the classic High School Butte switchbacks on the adjacent property owned by the Teton County School District, this parcel is home to multiple social trails and a rudimentary double track which have been used as unofficial hiking trails. The Jackson Hole Land Trust, working within a conservation-oriented management plan, will perform erosion mitigation, work to eliminate invasive plant species, and create a low impact loop trail for the community to enjoy.

“We know that access to nature and open space is critical to the mental and physical health of our community, especially during these challenging times,” explained Jenny Wolfrom Holladay, interim co-director and director of advancement and engagement at the Jackson Hole Land Trust. “High School Butte provides safe and easy access to the outdoors for families, students, and hikers of all ages. We are committed to inclusivity in conservation and believe that this protected public access property will be a place where everyone can seek out and experience the benefits of open space.”

The Jackson Hole Land Trust’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan includes a community engagement goal in which the organization pledges to protect and create natural community spaces that have special meaning for people and provide access to land. Community conservation projects like R Park, Save the Block, and now High School Butte provide the community with access to open spaces that may have otherwise been private. They are a tangible result of the JHLT’s commitment to making land conservation relevant and beneficial to everyone in the community.

As with most conservation efforts, the High School Butte project has been a collaborative effort and was made possible in partnership with a local family who wishes to remain anonymous and their agent, Greg Prugh, who thoughtfully reached out to the JHLT in hopes of this conservation solution, as well as Teton County School District who willingly agreed to allow access via their High School Butte property. The purchase and protection of the 18-acre lot on High School Butte was funded through private protection dollars raised by the Jackson Hole Land Trust. Additional funding opportunities for the project exist.

The Jackson Hole Land Trust plans to host several focus groups with neighbors, partners, and community members over the upcoming winter to collect community feedback and ideas about property use and management. Trail maintenance, upgrades, and construction is anticipated to begin in summer 2021. The JHLT-owned High School Butte parcel will be subject to winter closures to protect and benefit wildlife.

240-Acre Loomis Ranch Transferred to the National Forest

“This project embodies the spirit of our work to provide migration connectivity and stopover habitat to our region’s wildlife and to support agricultural operations.” 

The Jackson Hole Land Trust’s Green River Valley Program has partnered with The Conservation Fund and U.S. Forest Service-Bridger-Teton National Forest to conserve the 240-acre Loomis Park Ranch by transferring this parcel to the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

For more information, read our joint press release or find related articles in the news:

Jackson Hole News & Guide

Buckrail

San Francisco Chronicle

 

Photo courtesy of Dan Schlager