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.”

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