Spackmans Bring New Beacon Park to R Park

R Park is now home to a new community resource for backcountry snow safety thanks to the heartfelt generosity and adventurous spirit of the Spackman Family. The avalanche beacon training park features Backcountry Access’s wireless beacon training system and is now open for public use.

The Spackman Family are no strangers to the risks of backcountry sports. They generously sponsored R Park’s new beacon park through the Jarad Spackman Memorial Fund of the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole in memory of Jarad Spackman, who died in an avalanche in Grand Teton National Park in 2013. At the time of his passing, Jarad was on the Board of Directors for the Jackson Hole Land Trust and was passionate about the conservation of Jackson Hole’s open spaces. Jarad’s wife, Stephanie, his mother, Susie, and his brother, Brandon, are excited and honored to fund this community resource which will help others manage the inherent risks of backcountry travel, while still bravely pursuing what they love, as Jarad did. As Jarad once said, “Taking risks allows you to evolve. By stepping out of your comfort zone, you just might learn something about yourself that empowers you. Taking a risk might damage your ego, but it sure beats having regret over lost experiences.”

The beacon park will be open and operational throughout the winter as long as the weather allows. The beacon park is an addition to the Spackman Memorial near the East Pond Crossing at R Park. The Spackman Family has long had a special connection to R Park and a deep connection to conservation in Jackson Hole.

Backcountry skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling are becoming increasingly popular activities, making it critical that everyone who ventures out wears a beacon and knows how to assess and respond to the very real risk of avalanches. “As more people will venture into the backcountry due COVID-19 and usage limits at skiing resorts, we are ecstatic the Spackman Family underwrote this timely community asset,” said Jr Rodriguez, community conservation manager/R Park director. “We are hopeful that this beacon park will allow users to hone their transceiver skills without the need to buy a ski pass to access other beacon parks in the valley, all while enjoying the benefits of local conservation.”

“We feel very fortunate as a family to support this endeavor. It is so important for our community to have easily accessible educational tools and programs available for backcountry safety,” said Stephanie Spackman. “We hope this resource will be utilized, along with the many other tools offered in our community, to further support safe travel and a love for adventure in these mountains we are fortunate to call home.”

The beacon park features a Backcountry Access (BCA) wireless beacon training park with one control box and eight transmitters. Users will be able to efficiently practice single burial searches, multiple burial searches, probing, shoveling, and use of RECCO detectors. Each of the eight targets is equipped with an accelerometer so the control box will sound an alarm confirming each successful probe strike upon locating the beacon.

“Having a resource like this at R Park will allow for more people to get the practice they need. It is imperative that all backcountry users, novices, and professionals alike, practice their avalanche rescue skills every season. Regular practice will increase the likelihood of successful partner rescue in the event things take a turn for the worse,” said Liz King, Preventative Search & Rescue Manager for TCSR Foundation.

“As avid skiers ourselves and R Park being located at the halfway point between Teton Pass, Teton Village, and town, R Park has is an ideal place to host a beacon park,” said Ellie Stratton-Brook, R Park community outreach coordinator. “We’re excited for future collaboration opportunities with Backcountry Zero and Teton County Search & Rescue to add supplemental training to the beacon park that focuses on proper avalanche rescue training. We also encourage users to enroll in Avalanche courses in addition to utilizing the Beacon Park for practice.”

R Park is located at the intersection of Highway 22 and the Teton-Village Road (4270 River Springs Drive, Wilson). Participants are encouraged to use alternative forms of transportation to visit, such as START Bus or the community pathways.

736 Acres Protected in the Upper Green

The Jackson Hole Land Trust (JHLT) announced today that 736 acres in the Upper Green River Valley have been protected through a new conservation easement on the Bar Bar E Ranch, now held by the JHLT’s Green River Valley Program.

Protected in perpetuity on December 29, 2020, Bar Bar E Ranch II is contiguous to 873 acres that the landowners placed under a conservation easement in 2007. The additional acreage conserved will safeguard historic working lands and open space and support valuable big game and aquatic habitat.

The family of Bar Bar E Ranch has deep roots in the community of the Upper Green. The conservation property is part of a Wyoming Centennial Ranch, an honor reserved for families who have owned and operated their land for more than 100 years. They are also a founding family of the Upper Green River Cattle Association that move their herd along the Green River Drift, one of the oldest and longest cattle drives in the country. The new conservation easement ensures that the land will support continued agricultural use, including grazing and hay production, which in turn will help the culture and tradition of ranching continue to thrive in Sublette County.

“We are thrilled to partner once again with the family of Bar Bar E Ranch,” said JHLT Director of Conservation Liz Long. “It is incredible to see the result of careful stewardship on this now-historic homestead over three generations of living and working on the land. The Green River Valley Program of the JHLT is proud to play a role in ensuring the ranch will be a boon to the community and Wyoming wildlife for generations to come.”

The New Fork River and Willow Creek flow through the property, creating lush, resource-rich areas critical to sustaining resilient wildlife populations across the arid, sagebrush-dominated landscape that covers much of Sublette County. The property’s diverse topography, vibrant riparian areas and wetlands, and connectivity to vast swaths of adjacent open lands provide important resources for Wyoming’s native migratory big game species and is used by both pronghorn and moose on their seasonal migrations. Bar Bar E Ranch II supports native species of raptors and waterfowl and lies entirely within the Daniel Sage-Grouse Core Area, with multiple active leks nearby. Protection of Bar Bar E Ranch II ensures continuity between the Wind River Mountains, Willow and New Fork Lakes, and the New Fork River.

Funding from the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, and an anonymous donor through The Conservation Fund helped secure the Bar Bar E Ranch II conservation easement. In addition to the public funding, the landowners generously donated a portion of the easement’s value.

“The Conservation Fund is pleased to have secured and contributed funds that assist the landowning family, the JHLT, and our federal and state funding partners to complete this easement,” said Dan Schlager, The Conservation Fund’s Wyoming state director. “This effort will honor the agricultural traditions of Sublette County and protect its unique and vibrant wildlife resources, both essential components of Wyoming’s economy.”

Landowner Spotlight: Ring Lake Ranch

Ring Lake Ranch sits at the southern end of its namesake, tucked against a hillslope in the glacially carved Torrey Valley. Located a few miles southeast of Dubois, the historical ranch has operated since 1966 as a non-profit ecumenical retreat focused on “renewal in sacred wilderness”. To that end, the landscape provides an ideal setting for those seeking spiritual or emotional growth as resilient high-desert vegetation unspools across rolling glacial moraines that quickly transition into the mixed-forests and exposed pitches of the Wind River Mountains.

The physical environment is a source of inspiration for the ranch, amplified by the stunning and enigmatic presence of Dinwoody tradition petroglyphs found throughout the valley. This tradition of primarily anthropomorphic rock art is found only in the western Wind River Basin and a small portion of the adjacent Bighorn. Long associated with the Mountain Shoshone and their predecessors, the sheer density of these petroglyphs along with stone rings and lithic scatters throughout Torrey Valley mark the landscape as culturally significant. At the ranch, where personal renewal and connection are the focus, the presence of these prehistoric monoliths suggests the ancestors of contemporary American Indians sought this landscape for similar reasons. While the specific stories memorialized in the petroglyphs are unknown, Shoshone descendants have shared that the rock art represents communions between the original artists and powerful spirit beings that reside in the area.

Photo: Scott Copeland

For Ring Lake Ranch, operating a retreat that draws on the sacredness of place comes with the responsibility of protecting the natural and cultural facets that characterize it. While much of the area is protected on the National Register of Historic Places, the ranch decided to go a step further. In 2009, the Ring Lake Ranch Board of Directors partnered with the Jackson Hole Land Trust to place a conservation easement on the property. While most conservation easements are associated with ecological protection, they can also be effective tools for protecting cultural heritage on private lands. In this case, the Ring Lake Ranch easement was specifically drafted to ensure the landscape’s unique natural and cultural values are protected for perpetuity. In doing so, the ranch reaffirmed their commitment to the landscape and acknowledged the legacy of Indigenous communities in stewarding it for thousands of years previously.

Today, Ring Lake Ranch led by Director Andy Blackmun offers one- or two-week retreats throughout the summer for individuals and families. Retreats include extensive programming on a range of topics led by renowned speakers, academics, artists, and spiritual leaders. Of course, there are also ample opportunities to get outside and hike, ride horses, fish, canoe, or just relax. Always considerate of the cultural heritage on the property, Director Blackmun gives an invocation each week that recognizes the land as the ancestral territory of the Shoshone. Additionally, the ranch includes seminars that feature Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe speakers regarding contemporary tribal issues and interests, as well as the cultural record. Visitors can also attend guided tours of the petroglyphs as part of a partnership between the ranch, the local Dubois Museum, and the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office. Operating under a belief that everyone should experience the wilderness, the ranch strives to keep fees affordable, with kids under 12 attending for free and scholarship assistance available. For more information on available programming or to schedule a 2021 retreat, please visit their site, www.ringlake.org.

Donor Profile: The Jaubert Family

Jessica Jaubert and her family are dedicated supporters of the JHLT’s community conservation efforts and give each year to R Park. We had the pleasure of hearing more about what community conservation means to her and her family.

JHLT: What does community conservation mean to you?

Jessica Jaubert: Connecting people to place is an essential part of community conservation, one that has a meaningful impact on our daily lives. Community conservation has the opportunity to listen to what is needed and provide spaces that reflect recreation and preservation needs.

 

JHLT: What originally inspired you to support R Park and the Jackson Hole Land Trust with your first gift?

JJ: Giving to R Park every year is important to our family. Spaces such as R Park provide a critical connection to nature and people, and the Jackson Hole Land Trust has taken an active role in bringing our community together to share in these experiences.

 

JHLT: What are your favorite things about R Park and how has your family used the space over the years?

JJ: Whether biking, paddleboarding, sledding, participating in the Winter Solstice Party, or the Kid’s Fishing Day; our family connects to nature, each other, and the community through R Park and its events. The JH Land Trust has empowered our community and organizations to interact with nature and take responsibility for cultivating a place where we can all participate in conservation.

 

JHLT: What is your vision for the next generation of conservation in Northwest Wyoming?

JJ: R Park is the result of reclamation work, community support, and conservation that has become a unique, nonprofit park that supports the valley’s vision. Hopefully, the future of conservation will revolve around discussions and engagements of what the community wants and how achieving those goals will instill a love of our open spaces, nature, and the connections these spaces bring to our lives.

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

Save the Block

Celebrating the One Year Anniversary of Saving the Block

This week we are celebrating the one year anniversary of successfully protecting the greenspace on the Block forever through a conservation easement. It was a fast and furious campaign to raise more than $7 million to keep the community-cherished, historic downtown public space safe from the development of a 90,000-square-foot hotel. The Jackson Hole Land Trust had just over four months to generate enough community support and funding to cover the conservation component of the land deal. The deal was made possible by an anonymous local family who originally placed the entire block under contract to provide project partners the opportunity to develop a community-oriented plan that ensured the protection of the greenspace, preserved the historic buildings, and kept local businesses in their homes.

With COVID-19 restrictions limiting our ability to gather to celebrate the one year anniversary of this inspiring campaign, we are revisiting the exciting timeline of the Save the Block campaign and feeling grateful for each and every one of you who made a contribution to this unified community effort. Join us in recognizing and celebrating the incredible milestones that collectively resulted in Saving the Block.

Save the Block Campaign Timeline

This effort was made possible through the support of more than 2,500 individuals and businesses who made 5,700 gifts to the campaign to Save the Block. We are excited to move forward with the plans to create an even better and bigger community greenspace opening Summer 2021.

As we celebrate this success together, we hope you will consider a gift to the Jackson Hole Land Trust’s Annual Fund which will support the ongoing maintenance and programming for the Block and other community conservation properties like Rendezvous “R” Park.

WyoView: Wild. Open. Connected.

WyoView is back with the theme of WILD.OPEN.CONNECTED. in honor of JHLT‘s 40th anniversary! This year, WyoView works are for sale via a silent auction. Click here to view the entire gallery and to place your bid. Read on for featured artist Kay Stratman’s perspective and process.

This year I have the privilege to once again participate in the Land Trust of Jackson Hole’s yearly project titled WyoView. My assigned conservation easement property was the Walton Ranch.  While a bit of the ranch can be seen while driving past on Highway 22, the property extends northwards in a breathtaking view.  While I was concerned that I would interfere with the current haying operation, which is a huge undertaking, Bill, the ranch manager, and his wife Carol, couldn’t have been more welcoming.  Though Bill said I could drive around on the roads through the property, I decided to walk, which would bring me closer to the land.  I observed views that I would have missed driving by.
It was heartachingly beautiful and I treasure the experience.  Ravens and hawks above, the smell of fresh mown hay, dazzling clouds, the Tetons gracing every turn, with thick cottonwood forest bordering the western edge by the Snake River. I realized how fortunate the valley is to have an easement on this property.
The most difficult part was deciding which view to focus on for only three paintings.  I mulled over this year’s WyoView mission of Wild, Open, Connected.  These individual characteristics were evident in all directions.  (I may have to continue painting beyond these three pieces.)
I hope you enjoy the paintings, hopefully living my experience, and will consider purchasing them to further the Jackson Hole Land Trust’s legacy of protecting open spaces, wildlife habitat, working lands, and community spaces across Northwest Wyoming that inspire current and future generations.
Wild Open Spaces
Wild Wings
Stewardship – The Human Connection