Many people might not realize that within a park’s boundaries, there can be portions of land that are privately owned and unprotected. These inholdings face a high risk of being sold and developed, which could compromise the park’s natural beauty and connectivity. One of these at-risk properties was a pristine 35-acre parcel at the park’s south entrance. The tract features a stunning view of the Teton Range and is an important corridor for the park’s diverse and striking wildlife, including elk, mule deer, mountain lions, grizzlies and black bears.

Our Role

When the property went on the market in 2014, we knew we had to act fast. As Dan Schlager, our Wyoming State Director, puts it: “Conservation work often involves both urgency and patience.” By acquiring this land with money from our Revolving Fund, the National Park Service had the time it needed to get LWCF funding in hand, purchase the land from us, and officially add it to Grand Teton in 2020.

Grand Teton in Jackson Hole WY quote
"One of the headquarter centers at Grand Teton National Park is called The Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. It’s maybe 3 miles away from the property we worked on. Laurance S. Rockefeller is the son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who bought and donated much of the parkland. He wanted to create a visitors center that was reflective of the solace that you find in quiet places in the park, which can be challenging amid the many visitors during a busy summer. His visionary approach oriented the visitors center and the walks at the Preserve around the five senses.

Both of my children have profound hearing loss. We walked into that visitors center one time, when my youngest child was about 4, to a room oriented around sound. My son walks into the circular room and stands in the middle; the sounds that you hear are owls hooting, elk bugling and the sound that quaking aspen make in the wind with the leaves shimmering. He’s kind of wide-eyed and still. I ask him, “What do you hear?” After a long pause, bathing in the sounds of nature, he says, “I hear … everything.” This was at a time when we didn’t know if he would hear at all. That was a highly emotional moment that I will never forget.

I reflect a lot to my own childhood and think about the little park that I grew up next to and how that place planted a seed in me to love and protect natural places like Grand Teton NP. In addition to The Conservation Fund’s work protecting land and supporting local economies, I strongly believe that an important aspect of our work is planting seeds in the hearts and imaginations of the next generation. We have no idea what positive impact it may have. The little seed planted in me by a small neighborhood park blossomed to help protect a piece of Grand Teton. I am so grateful to have played a small role in the conservation of one of the greatest parks on Earth.”

― Dan Schlager, Wyoming State Director, The Conservation Fund

back to our 2020 annual report