I joined Jennifer Hoffman for a plein air session out at the River Springs property – now called Rendezvous or “R” Park – just as fall was arriving in Jackson. The seasons changed quickly this year and that day we found ourselves all bundled up,not quite used to the cold air yet, and highly aware of the frosting of snow that covered the Tetons. The contrast of the bright orange and yellow foliage against the grey, blue, and white mountains and sky was almost eerie- a clear message from nature telling us that winter was well on its way. As Jennifer painted, I walked around the soon-to-be community park, curious about the progress that the development team had made on restoring the slow-moving waterways and ponds of the property as well as the gravel pit reclamation. With the Friends of Pathways bridge construction underway, and the presence of machinery required for the gravel pit reclamation process, admittedly my walk around the property felt more industrial than I anticipated.
Vision is a word that best describes this property. When the Land Trust was approached for the second time about this important community protection project in 2011, it was the vision of being able to transform an important public access point for the Snake River and valuable wildlife habitat from a commercially used gravel pit into a natural community park. With the potential for four home sites to be developed on the 40-acre property located on the west bank of the Snake River, the Land Trust and other community partners envisioned something greater for the land at River Springs- a community park adjacent to the river that provides families with areas for safe swimming, fishing and other water activities, as well as natural walking trails and access to the river.
When I joined back up with Jennifer after walking along the river to snap a few photos of the gorgeous mountains and the foliage reflecting in the ponds at the park, I knew she had seen the vision for “R” Park and had more than adequately encapsulated the magic of the place in her plein-air masterpiece that day. The colors of the leaves, the calmness of the water, and the majestic snow-covered Tetons looming over it all perfectly captured what the vision for River Springs is – a place where everyone can go to enjoy nature and appreciate the multi-faceted beauty of Jackson Hole.
Rendezvous Park is slated to open to the public in Spring 2014. For more information on the progress of the park, please visit http://rendezvouslandsconservancy.org/.