Erin O’Connor – Snake River Ranch

My appreciation for the Snake River Ranch goes back decades and is many layers deep. Even before thinking of it as a JH Land Trust Easement, that stretch along the Moose Wilson Road eased my soul. Coyotes pouncing in perfect form, blinding snow broadsiding my truck in winter, impossible greens greeting me in spring, the canopies of cottonwoods ever present. Back in the day, I knew all the ranch hands; I sold them groceries at Hungry Jack’s General Store and served them breakfast at Nora’s, and come Sunday nights, I’d dance with them at the Stagecoach Bar.

Contributing a painting to the JH Land Trust is the finest way I know to say thank you for that view, past and present. View 22.

What an honor to have a personal tour with Bill Resor! His insights on the land and his family’s history in the valley are fascinating. For all of the time we spend looking up, he seems to be a man who is firmly grounded. In the expanses we see as flat, he knows every intimacy and nuance in the terrain. “This is a Pleistocene deposit,” he says, feet planted. “The soil composition doesn’t support aspens. When you drop down the bench toward the river, you can see the change.” Renowned geologist David Love had revealed this to him. Bill understands range management, migration patterns, water. Irrigation ditches have been moved, old pipes reused, headgates diverting the flow in new directions.

Following Bill through the grass, I gain a new perspective. I return later to paint “Lay Of The Land” (20×16, oil on linen) with appreciation for the subtleties and his family’s contribution to the JH Land Trust.

It’s not just the view that makes an easement. It’s the complexities of the land and its inhabitants that give it value. Bill Resor’s stewardship holds no grudges against the wolves, or the mountain lion who took up residence on his deck last winter. There’s room for both the cattle and the elk. Bumping along in his truck, the westbank wind mixes with NPR and Bill’s discussion about the Phillips Gallery in Washington, D.C. I’m impressed with the artful balance – balance between the deep past of a Pleistocene deposit, the needs of all who reside in the here and now, and thoughtful consideration for the future.

– Erin O’Connor

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