We’re Hiring: Director of Annual Giving

The Jackson Hole Land Trust is seeking a director of annual giving. Click here for details and to apply.

Deadline: August 4, 2021.

Photo: Lindley Rust

Wildlife Cams on the West Bank

After a few years of fieldwork experience, I have seen a lot of wildlife in truly wild places. In a more urban setting, like my place on the West Bank, I was curious how wildlife can exist while navigating the evolving challenges inherent in the landscape.

I was originally inspired to set up a game camera because of a set of muddy raccoon prints on the side of my cabin as if the raccoon was trying to Spiderman up the wall. I hadn’t seen any sign of raccoon other than those perfect paw prints, and I was curious what else was frequenting the property under the radar. Initially, I set up a game camera in a few locations with zero results.

As a stewardship associate for the Jackson Hole Land Trust, I have been privileged to visit numerous conservation easements around the valley. These conservation areas help retain a mosaic of protected wildlife habitat and open spaces, existing in perpetuity, that benefit our native fauna while they navigate the challenges posed by our increasingly convoluted and developing landscape. In conversation with landowners out on monitoring visits, I’ve enjoyed talking about wildlife sightings and migration corridors, whether formal or just patterns of movement across any given property.

Back at my cabin, I noticed a tree had fallen across a buck-and-rail fence and thought that might be an ideal location for wildlife, as it was an easy fence crossing.  Within the first week, I had captured the raccoon sneaking across the log in the middle of the night, and since then have captured footage of an ermine, fox, skunk, moose, mule and white-tail deer, chipmunks, red squirrels, songbirds, and even a bee. I have my favorite photos and videos saved on a folder on my computer, and I will compare different species phenology (when the deer pass through, when new fawns/calves are seen, etc.) to next year’s data.

On behalf of the local critters, I would like to thank our community for their efforts in protecting, conserving, and valuing wild landscapes. And, for anyone interested, the game camera set-up only cost around $50 and has been incredibly insightful – I try to check it every weekend and stay informed on how my local wildlife is doing, all while respecting the animal’s space. Watch the footage!

-Zach Andres, Stewardship Associate

Gun Barrel Flats Easement Protects 97.5 Acres

The Jackson Hole Land Trust (JHLT) announced today that 97.5 acres in the Buffalo Valley have been protected through a new conservation easement on the Gun Barrel Flats Ranch that was once the Walt and Betty Feuz Ranch. Nestled between Grand Teton National Park and existing conservation properties, the new easement protects essential wildlife habitat connectivity and homesteading legacy in the Buffalo Valley.

Protected in perpetuity on May 11, 2021, Gun Barrel Flats borders the east boundary of Grand Teton National Park. The conserved acreage safeguards historic working lands and open space. Landowners Brad and JoAnne Luton, respectively fourth and third-generation natives, have grown up together—they met in high school—stewarding this valley alongside their families.

“It’s really about her parents, Walt and Betty Feuz,” Brad said of his wife’s family and his own motivation to protect their parcel. In 1910, JoAnne’s grandparents originally homesteaded to the south along Spread Creek, and Walt was just 18 when he bought his own land along the Buffalo Fork and began ranching and haying. “We are rooted in this valley,” said Brad, “and we want future generations to see this land as it is.”

Today, the Lutons keep horses and host guests in their hand-hewn cabins. The horses are just for them and allow Brad and JoAnne to pursue their passion—horse packing into the wilderness and daily morning rides into the park with their pups Lacey and Buddy. The guest cabins keep the lights on and owe their rustic charm to a forest fire in Ditch Creek in 1988. With help from friends and a trade for firewood, the Lutons got a permit to cut and skid out 800 lodgepole pines over two summers that had been left standing. They hand-peeled and built each cabin, and this character keeps families coming back year after year—in some cases, 25 in a row!

It’s not uncommon for the Lutons and their guests to see wildlife on the property. Gun Barrel Flats’ location between private lands in the Buffalo Valley and the Snake River Riparian Corridor supports valuable big game, aquatic, and wetland habitats in the core of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Waterways that flow across the property feed into the Buffalo Fork of the Snake River, creating a mosaic of riparian willow shrubland, agricultural wet meadows, and wetlands. The property’s vibrant resources support a variety of native wildlife species. The entire 97.5 acres are within the Snake River Headwaters and the waterways provide aquatic connectivity for the bluehead sucker (a Wyoming Species of Greatest Conservation Need). Stands of willows offer essential habitat for neotropical migrant birds which flock to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to nest each spring. Located in a Big Game Terrestrial Crucial Habitat Priority Area, the ranch provides important resources for Wyoming’s native migratory big game species. Elk, mule deer, and moose use the property during their seasonal migrations. Brad and JoAnne have also spotted wolf tracks on their morning rides as Gun Barrel Flats is habitat for regional wolf packs, as well as the Primary Conservation Area for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Luton family to protect this important property,” said Max Ludington, JHLT president. “The Luton and Feuz families’ thoughtful stewardship has maintained the intact ecosystem directly adjacent to Grand Teton National Park for decades and this easement will now conserve that legacy in perpetuity.”

The easement would not have been possible without our generous funding partners: the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, North American Wetlands Conservation Act–with funds allocated through a partnership with Ducks Unlimited. In addition to the public funding, the landowners generously donated a portion of the easement’s value.

Block Construction Builds Toward New Greenspace

The Jackson Hole Land Trust (JHLT) is thrilled to announce that the Greenspace on the Block will open to the public later this summer following the community-powered campaign to “Save the Block” in the summer of 2019. Though Block businesses are open, construction is well underway and the greenspace is fenced and currently inaccessible. Once completed, the Greenspace on the Block will be a place for friends and neighbors to gather that offers connection to open space in the heart of town and a glimpse into Jackson’s past.

Work at the Greenspace on the Block resumed in April. Guided by the vision of Hershberger Design, Wyoming Landscape Maintenance is set to complete hardscaping by early summer with landscaping to follow. The completed service drive provides much-needed infrastructure to Block businesses that is cohesive with the overall design for the space. Graded walking trails and interpretive signage will invite visitors into the new community conservation property. Age and ability-friendly benches crafted by local designers Hise Sikora and Prospect Studio will offer opportunities for conversation with friends or quiet reflection.

Bruun Boulevard is currently closed for Town of Jackson infrastructure updates that will provide a seasonal flow of water through the Greenspace on the Block each year. The JHLT received a generous grant from Teton Conservation District that will put Cache Creek at the fore of this landscape. Nearly all of this stream is piped underground beneath the streets of Jackson. The Greenspace on the Block will provide an important view of what was once a flourishing waterway and invite reflection on the future of conservation and resource stewardship in the valley.

“We are thrilled to see the community’s vision for the Greenspace on the Block begin to take shape,” reflected JHLT Vice President Liz Long. “We are grateful to the anonymous family that carried this project, our local business and nonprofit partners that call the block home, and to each and every community member that made the Greenspace on the Block a reality. Once completed, it will provide a space for the community to come back together after a year of isolation. We look forward to celebrating this successful project with the Jackson community.”

With a groundswell of local support over a four-month window in the summer of 2019, the JHLT led a fundraising campaign that raised more than $7 million from 2,500 community members. On August 16, 2019, the JHLT successfully recorded an easement on a portion of the Genevieve Block that will protect its community greenspace and historic character forever. The JHLT is raising the final funding necessary to complete construction and bring the community’s vision to fruition with the opening of the Greenspace on the Block.

While landscaping timelines may preclude a full community gathering this year, the JHLT is looking to 2022 to host an all-out celebration. Once construction is complete, however, all are welcome at the Greenspace on the Block!

Meet our Seasonal Stewardship Team

Each spring, the JHLT welcomes stewardship associates to the team. They spend the summer months working in the field with fellow staff and landowners to sustain and enhance the conservation values of easements across Northwest Wyoming. Meet this year’s stewardship associates, Zach Andres and Jackson Ray!

Jackson Ray

Jackson grew up in Portland, OR where he loved to explore the forests and mountains of the Pacific Northwest. His passion for the outdoors led him to study Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration at Cal Poly. Upon graduation, Jackson spent some time working at an adventure travel company. This experience made him want to go back to school to study conservation and environmental education. He attended the graduate programs of the Teton Science Schools, and then completed his Masters at the University of Wyoming. After getting his Masters he conducted field research in New Mexico and has since moved back to Jackson, WY. He enjoys skiing, playing drums, and spending time in the mountains.

Zach Andres

Born in Texas and raised in Sheridan, Wyoming, Zach moved to Jackson three years ago. Zach spent his childhood watching grouse leks on the open landscapes of northern Wyoming and ever since has been inspired to understand natural processes and conserve wild landscapes and wildlife. Zach graduated from the University of Denver in 2015 with a B.A. in Geography. After working in the fly fishing industry for several years, he is now pursuing a career in conservation and wildlife biology. He has been fortunate to work on numerous wildlife projects, including research on mule deer migration, wolf-prey dynamics, moose mortality, and microplastics. Zach has a fondness for photography, fly fishing, grouse, hummingbirds, and thick-cut bacon.

Join the WYLD Advisory Committee

Do you want to help shape the future of community conservation in Jackson Hole? Learn more and apply to join the JHLT’s new WYLD Advisory Council (link in bio). WYLD stands for Wyoming Leaders and Discoverers and we are listening for the emerging voices of conservation in the valley. Apply today or share with a friend who might be a good fit: jhlandtrust.org/wyld-ac

Sediment-laden Snow Piles Hauled Away from Edmiston Spring

Creeks and rivers throughout Jackson Hole will soon be swollen with snowmelt. In urban areas, melting snow carries sediment, salt, metals, hydrocarbons, and other pollutants deposited on roadways and parking lots throughout the winter into streams and rivers.

Snow storage piles adjacent to waterways present an opportunity to protect water quality. With the support of Hungry Jacks General Store and Basecamp, Teton Conservation District (TCD) and the Jackson Hole Land Trust (JHLT) partnered with Teton Heritage Landscaping on a project initiated by the JH Clean Water Coalition (JHCWC) to remove the snow storage piles adjacent to Edmiston Spring. The JHCWC is a partnership led by the TCD, Protect Our Waters Jackson Hole, and Trout Unlimited to address water quality issues in Teton County. The JHCWC also administers the Trout Friendly Lawns program to promote ecosystem-friendly landscaping practices in Teton County.

Edmiston Spring is a small, spring-fed tributary to Fish Creek. It bubbles up on the east side of Owen Bircher Park, meandering through downtown Wilson along the Wilson Wetlands Trail for about a half a mile before meeting its confluence with Fish Creek. Edmiston Spring is a valuable nursery for juvenile Snake River cutthroat trout and provides aquatic and wetland habitat for numerous other species. Excess sediment, especially fine silt, clogs up loose gravel streambeds, which are critical for both trout and macroinvertebrate reproduction cycles.

Teton Heritage Landscaping transported four dump-truck loads of snow away from the spring. Just how much sediment did this prevent from entering the spring? Trevor Deighton’s Jackson Hole Middle School 8th grade science class investigated that question. Deighton’s students melted down 22 liters of snow and filtered out the sediment. Averaging the values, they estimated that the four dump truck loads of snow prevented approximately 4,783 gallons of water of questionable quality and about 1088 pounds of sediment from draining into the spring.

“The results of the investigation by the young minds at the middle school illustrate how small actions by the community can have big impacts on the water quality of Teton County,” notes JHLT Director of Stewardship Derek Ellis. “The Jackson Hole Land Trust is proud to be a partner of the JH Clean Water Coalition to help protect the waters of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.”

“This project, despite its small size, has a big community and ecological benefit,” says Carlin Girard, Teton Conservation District’s water resources specialist & associate director. “We hope it inspires others to consider snow storage locations that are close to streams and waterbodies, and pursue snow storage removal projects that could have a large cumulative impact on water quality throughout the valley.”

This small project builds on the Edmiston Spring Channel Enhancement Project, a collaborative effort that began in 2015 to improve aquatic and wetland habitat. Partners of that project included Wyoming Game & Fish Department, Jackson Hole Trout Unlimited, Friends of Fish Creek, Teton Conservation District, and the Snake River Fund.

 

Photo: Phoebe Coburn

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.

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.”