Jackson Hole Land Trust conserves 62 acres on East Gros Ventre Butte

(Jackson, Wyo.) - The Jackson Hole Land Trust announced yesterday that the 62-acre second phase of an initiative to conserve highly visible open spaces and crucial wildlife habitat on East Gros Ventre Butte has been successfully completed. East Gros Ventre Butte is a prominent landform located just north of the town of Jackson along U.S. Highway 26/89/191 and adjacent to the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park. It is a major component of the signature view from the Town of Jackson towards the Tetons. Flanked to the west by the relatively undeveloped Spring Gulch, it is a central wildlife migration corridor for the Jackson Hole area and provides habitat for greater sage grouse, mule deer, moose, bighorn sheep, raptors, songbirds and many other wildlife species. The newly conserved acreage is located on the eastern slope of East Gros Ventre Butte, to the north of as well as above the cluster of businesses along the highway that includes the Elk Refuge Inn, Flat Creek Inn, and Wilcox Gallery. It is comprised of two individual 41.5-acre and 20-acre conservation easements donated to the Jackson Hole Land Trust by landowners Kevin and Shelley Turner. The conservation easements eliminate all development rights on the property for the sake of robust protection for wildlife, in particular wintering sage grouse and mule deer. This project was originally initiated by the Kerr Foundation, which has worked for years with the Jackson Hole Land Trust to find solutions that protect the visual and wildlife values along the corridor between GTNP and the town of Jackson. “We were excited for the opportunity to extend and enhance existing land conservation efforts on East Gros Ventre Butte. Once you are on the land, it is easy to understand the importance of preserving it. The notable presence of wildlife and the seemingly endless slopes of sagebrush evoke a feeling of responsibility to keep the area as pristine as possible,” said landowner Kevin Turner. The 181-acre first phase of the Jackson Hole Land Trust’s East Gros Ventre Butte Project, located on the northeastern end of the butte, was completed in November 2013 and similarly extinguished all residential, industrial, and commercial development rights, eliminating 5 potential homesites and associated access roads that could have zig-zagged up the east face of the butte. “Securing additional conservation easements on the face of East Gros Ventre Butte is a huge win for the community and wildlife population of Jackson,” said Laurie Andrews, Jackson Hole Land Trust Executive Director. “Ensuring further connectivity of open space in such a visible location that serves as crucial habitat for sage grouse and mule deer as well as a migration route into the Elk Refuge has been a priority for the Land Trust. We are grateful to the Turner family for their generous donation and applaud their commitment to conservation in the valley.” The goal of the three-phase East Gros Ventre Butte Project is to conserve over 300 acres of land on the butte. The project area lies within the Jackson Core Area for greater sage grouse and is used by wintering sage grouse from active mating sites nearby. Greater sage grouse – large, ground-dwelling birds native to Wyoming and ten other Western states – have experienced troubling declines, which has inspired concentrated efforts by Federal, State, and private land owners to eliminate primary threats to their habitat. *Feature Photo: 62 additional acres conserved on East Gros Ventre Butte as of March 2016. h/t David Stubbs / Jackson Hole Land Trust / Pitchengine Communities* #buckrail #news