Final Design Plans for the Block

It is with great excitement that the Jackson Hole Land Trust announces today the final landscape design plans for the Save the Block project.  Local landscape architecture firm Hershberger Design worked with the JHLT to design the landscape plan, marking another step by the JHLT toward creating and enhancing a community-friendly greenspace on the historic Genevieve Block. JHLT chose Hershberger Design to lead the project based on the firm’s extensive experience in designing beautiful and engaging public spaces that express the spirit of the place, and their ability to creatively address the unique dynamics presented by the conservation-easement protected property.

The greenspace on The Block was protected in August 2019 following a four-month-long fundraising campaign led by the JHLT during which over 2,600 individuals donated more than $7 million to purchase the conservation easement and underlying fee on the greenspace. Additional contributions to the Save the Block campaign were designated for funding the design and creation of a space where the community can safely enjoy a quiet piece of nature in the heart of bustling downtown Jackson. Once completed, the 1.2 acres of community greenspace will offer low impact pedestrian connections, plenty of shade under the community-cherished cottonwood trees, open common areas to gather and socialize, and functional access to the local businesses that inhabit the preserved historic buildings on the block.

“We are honored to collaborate with the Jackson Hole Land Trust on The Block landscape. As a local firm, we followed and supported the campaign to save this block through its entirety and throughout the design process we remained committed to designing a space that is inspired by the community’s strong vision and passion for this important piece of our town,” said Bonny Hershberger, Vice President, Managing Partner, Organizational Genius at Hershberger Design. “As we envisioned the possibilities of the greenspace, we concentrated on capturing the spirit of this project for current and future generations to experience while visiting the block.”

Phase one of the construction process started in early June and includes utility updates and enhancements as required by the Town of Jackson, including burying the power lines that currently run through the property and establishing an access route that serves block businesses. Café G LLC, the anonymous family who was responsible for placing the entire block under contract and purchasing the parcel to hold during the Town of Jackson plat design and approval process, is managing the utility work which must be completed before the initiation of phase two of construction which includes the landscape design implementation and construction. Visitors to the greenspace on the block should expect closures to the property during the utility burials and portions of the landscape construction process throughout summer 2020.

The landscape design plan reflects the historic community use of the greenspace on the block as a place to gather, escape the frenzy of town, patronize local businesses, and reconnect to the history and roots of Jackson. Upon completion, the improved greenspace will offer public access to a much larger greenspace that features meandering pathways, new tree and bush plantings that increase shade and provide a porous barrier to traffic and noise, and dispersed benches and natural seating throughout the space. The JHLT is also working with Town engineers to confirm feasibility for keeping Cache Creek daylighted through the property to provide visitors with access to water features and a historic perspective of where the Creek originally ran through town.

“During a time of increasing polarization, the Block has been a symbol of unity – it was a project that brought the whole community together and is a testament to what a group of people can do when we work together towards a collective vision. Throughout the year, the JHLT has been working with Hershberger Designs to create a design plan for the block that is inspired by the community spirit of the project and provides a peaceful, inclusive greenspace in the heart of downtown Jackson that reflects and supports the vitality and history of the Block,” said Jenny Wolfrom, Interim Co-Director of the Jackson Hole Land Trust Director of Advancement and Engagement at the Jackson Hole Land Trust. “We are so proud to have been a part of the campaign to safeguard this space that is open to and benefits everyone in our community.”

Design renderings and perspectives will be posted on the Block during the construction phase. The JHLT is not currently planning programs or events on the block for summer 2020 due to the utility and construction work planned for the space.

A Few Words from the JHLT

Those of us who call America home are quite literally connected by one common thread- land. In order to do our work to protect land and uphold our values, our culture must be one of inclusivity and we must work to protect all people with whom we share this common thread. Today we raise our voice both in opposition to systemic racism and oppression and in solidarity with the Black community and all People of Color. We recognize that while words of acknowledgment are important, what truly matters are the actions we take moving forward that will substantiate these words and create change.

This week our feed and our emails have been intentionally silent in order to provide space for the messages from people and institutions of color that are important to this movement, messages that at their core reflect the values that this organization strives to uphold – commitment, integrity, collaboration, partnerships, community, sustainability, and RESPECT. Our regular Thursday programming will be canceled today and in its place, as our first course of action in listening and learning, we will be sharing a list of resources that amplify diverse voices in conservation from people who have done incredible work to defend our future. It is now our turn to help defend theirs.

 

Resources to Amplify Diverse Voices in Conversation:

Videos:

Planet Walker: Walk the Earth: My 17-year Vow of Silence

Greening the Ghetto

Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies- Diverse Voices: Defining Environmental Leadership for the 21st Century

Diverse Voices to Celebrate and Follow:

Dr. Dorceta Taylor, James E. Crowfoot Collegiate Professor; Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University of Michigan

Raya Salter, ENERGY & ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY CONSULTANT & EDUCATOR; MEMBER, NY STATE CLIMATE ACTION COUNCIL

Parker McMullen Bushman, Vice President for Community Engagement, Education and Inclusion at Butterfly Pavilion

Robert G. (Bob) Stanton, Director of the National Park Service (1997 – 2001)

Dr. Robert Bullard. A distinguished professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University in Houston, Robert Bullard is often called the “father of environmental justice.” 

John Francis, Planet Walker

Francisco “Paco” Ollervides, Executive Director, Green Leadership Trust

Dr. Ingrid Waldron, Dalhousie University professor; Co-producer of the Netflix documentary “There’s Something in the Water

Dr. Shivani Bhalla

Kristy Drutman

Dr. Adrienne Keene

Social Media Accounts:

@breaking_green_ceilings

@browngirl_green

@gogreensavegreen

@greengirlleah

@VanessaNakate1

@GenesisBulter_

@HeyAshleyRenne

@MikaelaLoach

@IAmTabithaBrown

@WasteFreeMarie

@SweetPotatoSoul

@ZeroWasteHabesha

@IsraHirsi

@queerbrownvegan

@waldroningrid

@em_cee_

@greengirlmagic

@nativeapprops

Organizations:

Land Loss Prevention Project

Planet Walk

Reclaiming Native Truth Project

Books:

Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans in the Great Outdoors

Planet Walker: 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence

Environmental Health and Racial Equity in the United States: Building Environmentally Just, Sustainable, and Livable Communities

There’s Something in the Water

Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices from the Grassroots

Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States

Braiding Sweetgrass

As Long as the Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock

Books for Children (compiled by Brittany Smith, an inclusive pre-kindergarten teacher):

Historic Preservation Month: The Block

Today, the Genevieve Block hosts a cherished community greenspace and historic buildings that are currently home to beloved local business. The Block is not only a community hub, but also provides a glimpse into Jackson Hole’s history. May is National Historic Preservation Month, and in honor of that we recognize the unique historic buildings, properties, and places that make up the heritage and character of our treasured landscapes. From homesteaded working lands and houses to the first businesses that lined main streets, our western roots continue to shape Wyoming communities today.

In August of 2019, the Jackson Hole Land Trust celebrated the monumental completion of an ambitious $7 million community campaign to “Save the Block” to safeguard the community greenspace through a conservation easement and protect its historical character. The Block represents the town’s early history from the lens of a foundational family, the Van Vlecks. The 1.2-acre lot located just off of Broadway and Deloney, pays homage to the grit and determination of what was once a modest agricultural town and the residents who called it home. The three original structures nestled in the lot’s greenspace characterize Jackson’s architectural past as it evolved from a small western town into a tourist destination. But beyond their squared joints and wooden bones, the buildings memorialize the people who walked through their rooms and into a mountain town’s history.

The Van Vleck House, visible today as Café Genevieve, has been a community-gathering place for over 100 years. The log cabin was originally constructed by Clare Roy (Roy) Van Vleck in 1910 and was the only property in Jackson with a water well at the time. Neighbors would often stop by for meetings, social activities, and, of course, water. Roy and his wife, Genevieve, resided in the cabin until 1960, during which they helped shape the town as it grew around them. Roy Van Vleck was a businessman and operated the town’s first mercantile, which he later sold to his son-in-law, Harry Weston. Roy invested in his community as a board member for the school and hospital and then later served as Land Commissioner. Genevieve Van Vleck gained fame as one of five women elected to town council in May 1920. After their election, Genevieve and her fellow councilors continued to appoint women to administrative positions, making Jackson the first in the nation with an all-woman municipal government. Genevieve served for three years and helped solidify the ethos of independent women in the West.

The Weston and Stewart Houses are situated to the east of the original Van Vleck House and sit slightly farther back from Broadway. The Van Vleck children, Estella (Stella) and Katherine Jean (Jean), built the homes on land gifted or sold to them by their father, Roy. Stella and her husband, Harry Weston, constructed the Weston House in 1936 as a cross between Roy and Genevieve’s log cabin and the bungalow-style popular during the time. Stella and Harry were community leaders, conservationists, and, like many people in northwestern Wyoming, outdoor-enthusiasts. Stella helped found the local Girl Scouts, served on several community organization boards, and enjoyed annual hunting trips for sage grouse and antelope. Civic duty was also important to Harry, as he served on the town council, as a board member of the Grand Teton National Park Natural History Association for over 50 years, and maintained membership numerous other local organizations. In 1950, Jean and her husband Robert Stewart, built a red ranch-style home on land gifted to her by Roy and purchased from her sister, Stella. The Stewart House is the western-most house on the Genevieve Block and represents the last of the Van Vleck family houses built at a time when downtown Jackson was becoming a busier, residential area.

As a result of the tremendous community and partner support during the Save The Block campaign last summer, we showed that greenspace and heritage matter. As Jackson continues to evolve, The Block will remain constant. The space will persist with its cherished businesses, greenspace, and historic character that reminds us of the town’s humble beginnings and the Van Vleck family who helped shape its future.

As part of the plan for The Block, the Van Vleck House and the Weston House remain protected by character easements that will ensure the buildings are forever maintained and restored in accordance with the façade restrictions placed on them. Meanwhile, the eastern-most lot, where the 1950s home of Jean and Robert stands, is slated to become the campus of the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum (JHHSM). In the future, visitors to The Block will be able to patronize local businesses in historic buildings, relax for a moment under the shade of a large Cottonwood tree next to Cache Creek on the greenspace, and dive deeper into the area’s history with a stop at the JHHSM.

Thanks to the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum archives for providing historic photos, the Weston House survey (conducted and prepared by Teton County Historic Preservation Board), and the Van Vleck House National Register for Historic Places nomination (prepared by Amy Kiessling for the Teton County Historical Society)!

Story: Carlie Ideker
Photo: Jackson Hole Historical Society and Musem

Landowner Spotlight: Wyoming Wetlands Society at Valley Springs

Heading south out of the hustle and bustle of Jackson, the eye soon relaxes as it is greeted by the open pastures of working cattle ranches and the meandering riparian corridor of the Snake River. The Valley Springs conservation property owned by the Wyoming Wetlands Society (WWS) lies at the forefront of this pleasing landscape. In 2001, the citizens of Jackson voted for Teton County to impose a Special Purpose Tax (SPET) to obtain a 200-acre piece of the Valley Springs Ranch. A portion of this property was then purchased by the Jackson Hole Land Trust and donated, under conservation easement, to the WWS. The WWS now manages the ponds and wetlands to support its mission of helping to restore the Rocky Mountain population of trumpeter swans.

After retiring from Wyoming Game & Fish, Bill Long founded the WWS in 1986. His team, including Executive Director Carl Brown, has been working to respond to a recent decline in trumpeter swans in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Although frequent in Jackson Hole in the winter, these swans are migrants from Canada. The number of swans nesting and breeding in this area has been struggling. The WWS takes eggs from active nests in Canada, hatches them, and then “grafts” the young cygnets to the few active nests in the GYE. This increases the number of swans that will look to return to the GYE to nest, restoring historical migration patterns and an important biological connection of the GYE to other wilds of North America. It also helps diversify the population by introducing genetics from northern flocks.

Taking a big picture perspective on the conservation of Wyoming’s iconic wetland species, the WWS offers a number of other services to help preserve and improve Wyoming’s wetlands. The WWS provides a consulting service for private landowners that are looking to enhance existing wetlands, including the design of pond islands that offer trumpeter swans the amenities they require for nesting.

WWS also offers the crucial service of beaver relocation. Adept wetland engineers, beaver pose problems to private land managers with their incessant lodge building. The WWS will trap beaver for private landowners and relocate them to the headwaters of Teton County, where their diligence creates wetland habitat and imparts crucial water quality services to the entire watershed.

For more information on the Wyoming Wetlands Society, visit wyomingwetlandssociety.org.

Position Specification for JHLT’s Next President

The Jackson Hole Land Trust Board of Directors and contracted search consultant, Russell Reynolds Associates, are pleased to share the Position Specification for the next president of the Jackson Hole Land Trust. Qualified candidates are invited to apply by contacting JHLT@russellreynolds.com.

Following Laurie Andrew’s announcement that she would be stepping down as president in February 2020, the board of the JHLT established a search committee led by Second Vice Chair of the Board Lori Fields. The search committee has identified the current leadership team—Director of Conservation Liz Long, Chief Financial Officer Derek Schaefer, and Director of Advancement & Engagement Jenny Wolfrom Holladay—to serve as interim co-directors of the organization. The committee selected Jamie Hechinger and her team at Russell Reynolds Associates to assist with the search, working with the JHLT board and staff to select the best candidate possible for the position.

The position specification is the result of a thorough needs assessment conducted by Russell Reynolds Associates with thoughtful input from all members of JHLT staff, board members, and many members of the larger JHLT community, including landowners, donors, and people who JHLT partners with on an ongoing basis.

“We are confident that the position specification we have put forward will be a blueprint for the JHLT’s next president and will attract a deep pool of quality candidates,” said Lori Fields. “We look forward to this next phase of our search, and to ultimately introducing our next leader in the coming months.”

The search committee is committed to advancing the search process, but will continue to monitor the impacts of the current COVID-19 pandemic and prioritize the health and safety of all involved.

Working Lands: Nature Journal Templates + Virtual Events

The Jackson Hole Land Trust is excited to continue rolling out new ways to virtually connect you, our community, to open spaces and conservation. Every other week, we’ll unveil a new theme with opportunities to connect virtually and resources to help kids get to know the natural world.

April Part II (4/13-4/26): Working Lands of Northwest Wyoming

Open Space Adventure: Journey of Food Coloring Book

This week we are exploring how foods grown on farms beyond your backdoor make it to your local market. Download our printable pages in English or Spanish and bring them to life with color and creativity to learn about the journey of food.

Open Space Adventure: Nature Journal

Welcome back to Open Space Adventures! For the next two weeks, we are going to be learning all about working lands like farms and ranches. This week we have two new activities for kids. First, follow along with this video to create a nature journal. Then, have your little ones grab their journals and binoculars from last week to head outside and explore. Go for a walk on the Jackson Hole Community Pathway System’s Grand Loop or out towards Teton Pass and you’ll pass numerous JHLT-conserved working lands* and experience the habitat that sustains the incredible wildlife of Northwest Wyoming. Kids can use the first observation page of the nature journal to draw and write about what they observe. Download the Nature Journal Template in English or Spanish.

*Never trespass on JHLT-protected working lands—they are private properties belonging to their respective landowners.

Open Space Adventure: Start a Garden

Looking for a fun at-home activity? Start your vegetable garden with this helpful video from another local nonprofit, Full Circle Education, at http://www.tetonfullcircle.org/. Hot tip: Kids are great gardeners!

Don’t have any seeds? Watch this video from the Land Trust for Tennessee about how to harvest and plant seeds from food you might already have around the house.

Past Event: 4/16 Virtual Happy Hour
Didn’t make it? Catch the recording here: https://vimeo.com/412910372

JHLT-protected working lands not only preserve wildlife habitat connectivity, but they support our local food system. Join us for another virtual happy hour on Thursday at 4 pm MST with panelists Kate Mead of Mead Ranch, Sonja Rife of Killpecker Creek Cattle Company, Huidekoper Ranch Head Farmer Brent Tyc, and JHLT Stewardship Manager Derek Ellis. Tune in to hear how they’re preparing their working lands for summertime, explore how working lands and wildlife coexist, and have a dialogue about the roles of conservation and ranching in Northwest Wyoming.

Past Event: 4/23 Virtual Trivia: Working Lands
Do you know your local producers? Thank you to those of you who joined us last week at our second virtual happy hour featuring the working lands and ranchers of Northwest Wyoming! This week, put your farming and ranching IQ to the test with trivia. Perfect for both families and quiz-loving adults alike, we invite you to join us this Thursday, April 23 at 4 pm. Grab your favorite beverage and gear up for an exciting hour of brain-teasing questions. Winners will receive a special JHLT prize as well as the opportunity to compete in our trivia championship to come.

Grab your smartphone or computer and connect via the zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/9809695673 or visit zoom.us and click Join A Meeting and enter the meeting code 9809695673.

Photo: Arnie Brokling

Birds of NW Wyoming: Activities for Kids, Trivia + More

The Jackson Hole Land Trust is excited to continue rolling out new ways to virtually connect you, our community, to open spaces and conservation. Every other week, we’ll unveil a new theme with opportunities to connect virtually and resources to help kids get to know the natural world.

April Part I (3/30-4/12): Birds of Northwest Wyoming

4/9 Trivia
Put your regional bird IQ to the test with trivia. Perfect for both families and quiz-loving adults alike, we invite you to join us Thursday, April 9 at 4 pm. Grab your favorite beverage and gear up for an exciting hour of brain-turning questions. Winners will receive a special JHLT prize as well as the opportunity to compete in our trivia championship to come.

Grab your smartphone or computer and connect via the zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/9809695673 or visit zoom.us and click Join A Meeting and enter the meeting code 9809695673.

Open Space Adventure: DIY Binoculars

For the kids (or truly young at heart), follow along with our video and make a set of binoculars out of items found around the house. Then, encourage your kids to observe the incredible nature all around. Safely head out to one of our public access community conservation properties while respecting social distancing. Walk the perimeter loop at R Park to experience several different habitats or check out the Wilson Wetlands and you may be lucky enough to see a Yellow warbler.

Past Event: 4/2 Virtual Happy Hour
Didn’t make it? Catch the recording here: https://vimeo.com/405172386

Join JHLT for a virtual happy hour with our staff biologist, Erica Hansen. Follow along as she explores the ways birding can connect you with the outside world from your own backyard. She’ll delve into which birds are making their way back to Northwest Wyoming and how JHLT-protected properties support their migration.

Bird: Swainson’s hawk
Photo: Tom Koerner/USFWS

April 2020 Update: The Search for JHLT’s Next President

The Jackson Hole Land Trust is embarking upon a search for the organization’s next president, and the JHLT board has partnered with the executive search firm Russell Reynolds on this important search. In this beginning phase of the search process, Russell Reynolds is spending time with various Jackson Hole Land Trust staff, board members, partners, and other stakeholders to understand the context for leadership and formulate a position description for the role. If you would like to provide your insights and ideas to the search committee, we invite you to participate in our online survey.

If you would like to express interest in the role or nominate a potential candidate, please reach out directly to JHLT@russellreynolds.com. We benefit from the multitude and diversity of perspectives our community can offer about the JHLT’s next chapter.

Meanwhile, as the search process moves forward, the JHLT continues to be led by Interim Co-Directors Liz Long, Derek Schaefer, and Jenny Wolfrom.

Photo: Apres Visuals

Next for The Block: Partnership with Hershberger Design Landscape Architects

It is with great excitement that the Jackson Hole Land Trust announces today a partnership with the local landscape architecture firm Hershberger Design, marking another step by the JHLT toward creating and enhancing a community-friendly greenspace on the historic Genevieve Block. JHLT chose Hershberger Design to lead the project based on the firm’s extensive experience in designing beautiful and engaging public spaces that express the spirit of the place, and their ability to creatively address the unique dynamics presented by the conservation easement-protected property.

The greenspace on The Block was protected in August 2019 following a four-month long fundraising campaign led by the JHLT during which over 2,600 individuals donated more than $7 million to purchase the conservation easement and underlying fee on the greenspace. Additional contributions to the Save the Block campaign were designated for funding the design and creation of a space where the community can safely enjoy a quiet piece of nature in the heart of bustling downtown Jackson. Once completed, the 1.2 acres of community greenspace will offer low impact pedestrian connections, plenty of shade under the community-cherished cottonwood trees, open common areas to gather and socialize, and functional access to the local businesses that inhabit the preserved historic buildings on the block.

“We are honored to be collaborating with the Jackson Hole Land Trust on The Block landscape. As a local firm, we followed and supported the campaign to save this block through its entirety and are committed to designing a space that is inspired by the community’s strong vision and passion for this important piece of our town,” said Bonny Hershberger, Vice President, Managing Partner, Organizational Genius at Hershberger Design. “As we embark on our visioning for the possibilities of this greenspace, we are concentrating on capturing the spirit of this project for current and future generations to experience while visiting the block.”

The timeline for construction to start on the block is mid-to-late spring. Utility updates and enhancements as required by the Town of Jackson, including burying the power lines that currently run through the property, will need to be completed prior to the landscape design implementation and

construction. Visitors to the greenspace on the block will need to expect closures to the property during the utility burials and portions of the landscape construction process throughout summer 2020.

“The greenspace on the block has been a place for the community to gather, escape the frenzy of town, enjoy a locally made treat or beverage, and reconnect to the history and roots of this special place. We are so proud to have been a part of the campaign to safeguard the space and the public’s ability to access it,” said Jenny Wolfrom, Interim Co-Director and Director of Advancement and Engagement at the Jackson Hole Land Trust. “We are confident that Hershberger Design joins us in our passion for this community space and we look forward to working closely with their team to transform the greenspace into a more usable and vibrant common area for all to enjoy, forever.”

The JHLT and Hershberger Design will work together to provide the community with more details on the design plan as the creative process unfolds. The JHLT is not currently planning programs or events on the block for summer 2020 due to the utility and construction work planned for the space.

 

Photo: Orijin Media

Jackson Hole Land Trust’s Response to COVID-19

Dear Community and Supporters,

It is times like these that the power and camaraderie of this community become clear as we band together to prioritize the health and safety of our local, national, and global populations. The Jackson Hole Land Trust (JHLT) is monitoring the status of COVID-19 in Northwest Wyoming and doing our part to prevent the risk of exposure and potential spread of the virus. In order to safeguard the health of our staff, board, partners and community, JHLT has implemented the following policies based on the recommendations made by state and local government and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Mandatory office closure and remote work for all staff, including the Jackson and Green River Valley Program office in Pinedale. All JHLT staff are actively working in a remote setting and can be reached by email, or through voicemails left via JHLT’s messaging system by calling the office at 307-733-4707. This will be in effect through March 31, 2020, and extended if necessary.
  • All internal and external meetings will be conducted through video and teleconferencing technology in order to limit close person-to-person contact within a confined area.
  • Temporary hold on nonessential, work-related travel for employees through April 2020.
  • Cancellation of all community events through April 2020 including:
    • WYLD Beacon Search with Teton County Search and Rescue at R Park on 3/19/2020
    • Eastern Egg Hunt at R Park on 4/10/2020
    • GRVP Happy Hour at Wind River Brewing Company on 4/22/2020
  • Rendezvous “R” Park will remain open to the public at this time, although the office will be closed to staff and visitors and office hours will be cancelled through at least March 31, 2020. We do recommend and request that visitors to R Park implement preventative measures recommended by the CDC, which include social distancing of at least 6 feet from other individuals and families, washing or sanitizing hands before and after visiting the park, and staying home if you or a member of your household are feeling sick.  We are proud to offer a safe, community greenspace that can provide residents with a positive connection to nature and open space- which has been directly linked to enhancing the function of the immune system and increasing mental health- in these times of uncertainty and isolation.

As the situation is changing daily, and sometimes hourly, we will adjust our policies and procedures to reflect recommendations made by local, state, and national entities. Meanwhile, our talented and dedicated team will continue their work towards fulfilling our vision of a legacy of protected open spaces, wildlife habitat, working lands, and community spaces across Northwest Wyoming that inspire current and future generations.

Please use the online staff email directory to contact the appropriate JHLT team member with questions and concerns.

Thank you,
JHLT Interim Co-Directors Liz Long, Derek Schaefer, and Jenny Wolfrom