I just returned from Jackson for the annual Greater Yellowstone Coalition meeting. The convention was at the plush Jackson Lake Lodge. The lodge lobby sits in Grand Teton National Park overlooking a large wetland where elk are calving, moose are bedding, and grizzlies are eating. There’s something wonderful and strange about viewing all the wildlife activity from the comforts of the heated lobby. Of course, you can also go out on the balcony, but if its raining, as it frequently was, I almost felt guilty being so comfortable inside looking out.
The Greater Yellowstone Coalition is such a great conservation group. It’s an organization working within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to solve wildlife/human conflicts. Its works on issues as diverse as legislation to preserve prime habitat areas to preventing oil and gas leases. There is a level head to the organization as it attempts to throw out a wider community net and partner groups that might not have otherwise come together.
The annual meeting was fabulous. This is my third one in four years, and I think it was the best. Some highlights: Alexandria Fuller, the keynote speaker, who was charasmatic, witty, and very funny. She had the crowd laughing over stories from her hometown in Africa and then crying when she discussed her new book about a young man killed in the oil fields because of poor safety procedures.
The other two highlights for me were on Saturday morning. Kevin Hurley of Wyoming Game and Fish led a round table discussion I joined on Open Grazing on public lands. His focus was the plight of the bighorn sheep in Idaho. Afterwards he gave a presentation on the Bighorn Sheep migration around where I live on the Beartooth front. Just in the last few years, after doing some collaring, they’ve discovered the migration of the bighorns, which follows a peculiar and ancient arc pattern.
Geoffrey O’Gara of Wyoming Public Television followed with a fantastic preview of a new PBS documentary he’s working on about the pronghorn migration and the push to preserve land along their route. The documentary will raise critical awareness of this pressing issue.
I highly recommend that anyone going to the Tetons take the time to stop and visit the newly opened Laurance Rockefeller Preserve. Donated in 2001, but just opened to the public last year, this was the private residence of the Rockefellers and one of the most pristine places easily accessible by car. Take the time to walk to the lake. Laurance used to have his guests park in the parking area and walk the mile and a half to get to the residence by the lake. That way they’d leave their worries at the gate and begin to experience the wonders of this natural place.
Here is a photo I took of mama moose nursing her calf along the trail to Phelps Lake at the Rockefeller Preserve.