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Springtime in the Tetons

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
I do some volunteer work with the Jackson Hole Land Trust. Part of it includes annual visits to each property that is protected by a scenic easement. The easements have been donated over the last twenty years by property owners in Jackson Hole and the nearby valleys.

In general, an easement imposes extremely strict prohibitions on further development of the property in any way. They are meant to preserve the scenic, wildlife, or agricultural values of the property. The Jackson Hole Land Trust is one of the most active organizations of its kind in the world and the total current market value of the properties in this area that have been protected via easement is approaching one BILLION dollars.

One requirement of each easement is that the Land Trust staff biologists must visit the property annually to ensure that the terms of each easement are being practiced. It's called a "Monitoring Visit" and I'm allowed to tag along when my schedule allows.

Following are some photos from visits I did yesterday.

This first is a male Sandhill Crane. These cranes spend the summer nesting throughout the northern states and into Canada. They have a really distinctive, kind of haunting, gravelly squawk that's just wonderful to hear. This one was part of a pair that were shielding a 3-day-old chick. I couldn't get a good shot of the chick because it and the mother were quite a ways away in heavy brush. The male was trying to lead us away from the mom and baby. Very cool birds:

This next shot is a buck Pronghorn Antelope. Pronghorns start coming into Jackson Hole in late may and early June and will spend the summer in our valley and on up into Yellowstone National Park. These antelope still make what is the second-longest land mammal migration in North America (the caribou on the North Slope of Alaska do the longest). They spend the winter on the open range in southern Wyoming and migrate through Pinedale and up through the Green River drainage and over into Jackson Hole.

Their migration route is being threatened by all of the natural gas drilling that's occurring south and west of Pinedale as well as by development of some of the secluded ranches in the upper Green River basin.

This last shot is of cattle grazing on the Walton Ranch. This ranch is more than 1,100 acres right in the heart of Jackson Hole. For any of you familiar with Jackson, it's the beautiful open space along the north side of Hwy 22, west of Jackson and just east of the Snake River bridge. The photo barely shows the Grand Teton and the rest of the main Teton Range peaks through the storm clouds.

This ranch was one of the very first easements granted to the Land Trust. The views of the Teton Range and the rest of Jackson Hole are incredible, and this ranch provides very important range for elk and moose.

The ranching family that granted the easement were among the early settlers in Jackson Hole and wanted to see this property remain as open landscape rather than be developed as homes. If this ranch were to be sold for development at today's prices, it's value might be over $150 million dollars.

It was a fun and educational day.
post #2 of 4
Nice pics!
post #3 of 4
Fantastic Bob. Thanks.
post #4 of 4
Exelent TR Bob.

I hope the $$ never tempts those in control to take the low road. It is good that old time land owners have an option to preserve the family farm without cashing out to big developers. (Rare in these modern times)

BTW the Sandhill Crane pic is grerat, I had never seen one untill you posted this pic.
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