Sunday, August 10 saw hundreds of Jackson Hole Land Trust supporters gather at the 4 Lazy F / Poodle Ranch for the 34th Annual Picnic. Many thanks to the Oliver family (Harry Oliver, Todd Oliver, and Mary Flitner) as well as ranch manager George McCullough, for sharing their beautiful ranch with all of us.
Harry Oliver gave a spirited and funny talk about the history of the ranch. His father bought the 4 Lazy F / Poodle Ranch in 1954. At one time the family property included what is now the Cottonwood Park subdivision and the 3 Creek development south of town. One day in the mid-1950s, Clay Seaton (then the ranch manager) walked into the old RJ Bar on the Town Square and the bartender, Jack Francis, said “I heard Mr. Oliver bought the 4 Lazy F Ranch”, to which Clay replied “Oh, that’s not a ranch. It’s so little it’s just for his poodles.”
For me, the picnic was a celebration of three things.
First, it was a celebration of my evolving relationship with the Land Trust, which goes back to the early 80s. My husband Ed and I owned Riddell Advertising+Design in Jackson, and worked with many bright, energetic people who brought the Land Trust to life and grew it over the years. We created print materials, including the newsletters, which often featured a photograph donated by Ed on the cover. Now it is an honor for me to be working with the Land Trust again, this time as a View22 plein air painter, and to be able to give back to our community through art.
Second, the picnic was a private celebration of my long friendship with Bert Raynes. Bert is a national treasure, as was his beloved wife Meg. I met Bert and Meg in the late 70s, and in the mid-80s was lucky to be the designer of his book “Birds of Grand Teton National Park And The Surrounding Area,” published by the Grand Teton Association. Bert’s idea to feature birds by the habitat they lived in made birdwatching even more fun. When the new Teton County Library opened in 1997, Bert helped all of us on the library board by delivering a speech about libraries and national parks being America’s two best ideas. Best because they are free. He also spoke of serendipity, of going into the library looking for one thing and coming out with another. Sounds like life doesn’t it?
In 2000 Bert offered a one-day birdwatching class through Teton Science School. Jennifer L. Hoffman and her future husband Ron Gessler were in the class with Ed and me. Little did I know then how many times Jen, Ron, and my paths would cross through art. Fourteen years later, the Raynes Wildlife Fund made a major contribution towards protecting East Gros Ventre Butte, just behind the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Bert received a beautiful thank you gift from the Land Trust of a yellow-headed blackbird pastel painting by Jen, which was made along the Bert and Meg Raynes boardwalk at the JH Visitor Center overlooking Flat Creek.
Jen addressed the crowd on behalf of the View22 project, speaking of how important open space is for animals, birds and people … food for the soul. Jen clearly loves sharing what she knows about all things Jackson Hole.
Third, I loved the spirit of collaboration. Five valley groups joined the Land Trust at the picnic: The Art Association, Teton Raptor Center, R Park, TravelStory GPS, and Wyoming Whiskey. Five of the six View22 artists (Jen Hoffman, Bill Sawczuk, Travis Walker, Kay Northup and myself) set up our easels and created plein air paintings of scenes ranging from mountain views to the creek meandering through the ranch. The sixth artist, Kathryn Mapes Turner, was on a painting pack trip in the Winds. The food was delicious and I really enjoyed painting to the joyous music that Jessica Camilla O’Neal and the Neversweat Players provided.
Land protection in Jackson Hole has been a collaborative effort over the years, benefitting us all. I think everyone felt happy to be together celebrating the protection of The Poodle Ranch on a warm and sunny day, with tall cumulous clouds building over the Teton Range. Since its inception, the JH Land Trust and generous landowners have protected an almost-contiguous wildlife corridor along the Snake River for wildlife to use without major subdivisions and fences to stop them. We enjoy beautiful views, as well as peace of mind knowing that wildlife has unspoiled places to call home.
– Lee Carlman Riddell