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.

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.”

JHLT Protects 68.5 Acres of Wildlife Habitat along the Wind River

The Wind River Program of the Jackson Hole Land Trust (JHLT) announced today that 68.5 acres in Fremont County along the Wind River have been protected through the Wind River Rookery conservation easement, now held by the JHLT’s Wind River Program.

Protected in perpetuity on April 23, the Wind River Rookery contains important open space that supports working lands, riparian, and big game habitat. Its permanent conservation contributes to the long-term ecological viability and connectivity of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

“We are pleased to participate in the ongoing conservation protection of important wildlife habitat along the Wind River,” said the anonymous landowners, who generously donated a portion of the easement’s value. “The JHLT’s plan for protecting important land complements the other conservation easements like pieces of a larger puzzle for wildlife moving through the Wind River Valley.”

The Wind River Rookery contains 4,300 feet of both riparian and aquatic habitat along the Wind River, a Class II trout fishery of statewide importance. The conservation of this property directly benefits native wildlife in this section of the Wind River corridor, as well as the species in the arid region through which the river flows.

The property’s working agricultural lands provide diverse wildlife habitat — irrigated, hay-producing meadows, wet meadows with associated shrub-scrub wetlands, cottonwood forest, and tall-shrub communities where water seeps from sloped sagebrush-grasslands. These varied habitats benefit several of Wyoming’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including bald eagles and great blue herons.

Wind River Rookery’s location also promotes wildlife resilience by expanding connectivity with neighboring protected lands that stretch from the Wind River Mountains to the Wind River riparian corridor. This connectivity is of particular importance for a core population of Wyoming’s bighorn sheep, which live in the nearby Whiskey Basin, Dubois Badlands, and Spence & Moriarity wildlife habitat management areas. Wind River Rookery supports the migration of large game and contains Winter Crucial Range for pronghorn and mule deer, and year-round habitat for elk, moose, and pronghorn. The easement also permanently protects nesting, feeding, and shelter habitat for waterfowl and other birds, as well as for small mammals.

“This is a significant conservation gain for the Wind River Valley and Northwest Wyoming,” said Liz Long, JHLT director of conservation and interim co-director. “The property has been incredibly well stewarded by the current landowner. Its working lands, riparian and wildlife habitat, and adjacency to other conserved properties established the property as a priority conservation project for the JHLT. We are thrilled that the ecological and cultural values created by this dynamic open space are now protected forever and we are grateful to our funding and landowner partners who each played a critical role in completing the project.”

The Wind River Rookery conservation easement was accomplished with funding from Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. In addition to this public funding, the landowners donated a portion of the easement’s value.

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 [email protected]

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.

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

Laurie Andrews,President of the Jackson Hole Land Trust, Announces Departure

Laurie Andrews will continue career as a community leader as President of the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole

Jackson, WY –It is with gratitude and commendation that the Board of Directors announces today the departure of Laurie Andrews as President of the Jackson Hole Land Trust, effective late February 2020. Andrews will be starting her new position as Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole in March 2020.

Since 2005, Andrews has played a critical role in land conservation for Northwest Wyoming and beyond. During her 15-year tenure at the Jackson Hole Land Trust, Andrews was responsible for the protection of over 8,000 acres of conservation land, led the organization through multiple forward-thinking strategic plans, and expanded the reach of the Jackson Hole Land Trust to encompass the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

“Laurie has been an exceptional President and leader for the Jackson Hole Land Trust” said Jason Snider, Board Chair. “We are grateful for Laurie’s visionary direction, which embraced inclusivity, produced strong results, created strong partnerships and prioritized the conservation needs of the whole community.”

“Under Laurie’s leadership, the staff of the Jackson Hole Land Trust more than doubled, the organization successfully completed two significant fundraising campaigns – Forever Our Valley and Save the Block, and we experienced record-breaking annual fundraising and asset growth benchmarks. While we are sad to see her go, we are excited about what her new role means for Jackson’s community and network of non-profits,” continued Snider.

The Board of Directors of the Jackson Hole Land Trust have created a search committee to identify an Interim Director and hire a new permanent leader for the Jackson Hole Land Trust. While the search is underway, the organization is in an excellent position with its accomplished senior leadership team of Jennifer Wolfrom Holladay, Director of Advancement and Engagement, Liz Long, Director of Conservation, and Derek Schaefer, Chief Financial Officer.

“I feel so fortunate to have been a part of such a strong and impactful organization for the past 15 years,” said Andrews. “The Jackson Hole Land Trust has taught me so much about what community means and the passion and generosity that I’ve seen shine through over and over again has been incredibly inspiring. I’m excited to continue my journey as a leader in this special place, and to continue working with extraordinary partners on meaningful projects.”

Continued Andrews, “While it is bittersweet to leave the Jackson Hole Land Trust, I know that the organization is in good hands. The current board and the leadership team are knowledgeable and talented and I will miss working with such a tremendously effective team. While my career is changing directions, my commitment to protecting open spaces is steadfast and I know I will be working with the Jackson Hole Land Trust in some capacity in the future.”

Lori Fields, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Jackson Hole Land Trust, will head the committee that will conduct a wide ranging and broad-based search for a new Executive Director.

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About the Jackson Hole Land Trust

The Jackson Hole Land Trust is a private, non-profit organization that was established in 1980 to protect and steward the treasured landscapes of Northwest Wyoming including Fremont and Sublette counties. With over 55,000 acres protected, our vision is a legacy of protected open spaces, wildlife habitat, working lands and community spaces that inspire current and future generations. For more information, please visit jhlandtrust.org.

2018 Annual Report

Our Annual Report from our 2018 fiscal year is now available online.

Read about our yearly highlights, accomplishments, programming, and much, much more.

Check out the full piece, here.

Genevieve Block Project

For project details, fundraising timeline, and to stay up-to-date on announcements, visit the Genevieve Block Project website.

Read the cover article from the Jackson Hole News & Guide, here.

Learn the call-to-action and project partners in the editorial section’s guest shot from April 17, 2019, here.

Employment Opportunity: Major Gifts Officer

The Jackson Hole Land Trust is seeking to fill the position of Major Gifts Officer. Please see the attached job description for details.

To apply, email your resume and cover letter to [email protected].

No phone calls, please.

JHLT protects 191 acres in Teton County in 2018

THe JHLT protected three properties totaling 191 acres throughout Teton County over the past year, with conservation gains for wildlife habitat, migration corridors and ranching heritage. This acreage adds to the existing 55,000 acres of Land Trust protected conservation easements across Northwest Wyoming.

Read the full press release, here.