The Teton Regional Land Trust is deeply saddened to share the news of the loss of our colleague and friend Wray Landon.
Wray Landon died while skiing the Southeast Face of the South Teton Sunday, February 21st. Wray was skiing with two friends when the avalanche broke around 11:30 a.m. on the south face of the 12,514-foot peak. He was swept over a 1,500’ cliff by an avalanche and was unable to survive.
Wray began his career with the Teton Regional Land Trust in 2007 as an intern supporting the work of our stewardship staff. A man of few words, Wray’s skills in the field spoke volumes and the Land Trust hired him as a full-time Resource Specialist several months later. He soon became essential to the conservation of private lands in eastern Idaho, undertaking the field work necessary to inventory the natural resources on many of the conservation projects completed by the Land Trust during his tenure. His field work and knowledge of the resources helped guide the permanent contracts negotiated with landowners to protect private lands. His good sense and courtesy endeared him to the landowners with whom the Land Trust worked, helping build those strong relationships essential to the conservation of private lands. His surveys of Yellowstone cutthroat redds, sandhill cranes in Teton Valley, song-birds on the South Fork and waterfowl along the Henry’s Fork, added to the knowledge of wildlife resources in eastern Idaho.
When we talk with many of Wray’s friends, we hear about his numerous impressive athletic feats and mountaineering prowess. At Teton Regional Land Trust, we knew about Wray’s passion for the high mountains and racing. But, to us, he was always the dedicated and talented conservationist who was committed to eastern Idaho. Wray was a skilled naturalist and biologist who developed an impressive understanding of the natural systems of the Upper Snake River Watershed and applied his knowledge with fervor and skill towards the stewardship of protected lands. Wray was a man of the high mountains; but he was also passionate about wetland conservation, plant ecology and wildlife. At the time of his death, Wray was deeply involved in a project that will someday protect thousands of acres of important habitat along the Henry’s Fork River.
When Wray joined TRLT, he had particular interest in birds. He started assisting the stewardship staff on many of their bird monitoring trips to learn bird identification skills, monitoring protocols and the critical connections between wildlife populations and habitat quality. His knowledge developed so rapidly, that within a couple of years, he was managing the organization’s bird monitoring program. Wray worked tirelessly in and out of the office to advance conservation with a calm manner in the face of frantic deadlines. He brought out the best in us with his resolve, humility and sense of humor. Wray’s wit, like the man himself, was characteristically understated and on target – often conveying the humor in a situation with a couple of wry words and a twinkle in his eye.
Whether gliding in a canoe through a marsh on the Teton River or running the high peaks of the Lost River Range, Wray loved the beauty and challenges of wild lands and took responsibility for their stewardship. He prayeth well, who loveth well – Both man and bird and beast. He prayeth best, who loveth best – All things both great and small. Wray was a fine man and a fine friend. We will all miss him.
Honoring the wishes of Wray’s family, the Teton Regional Land Trust has started a “Wray Landon Legacy Fund”. Gifts made to this fund will go towards furthering the great work Wray did with the Land Trust.
To give to the Wray Landon Legacy Fund, send your donation to Teton Regional Land Trust, PO Box 247, Driggs, ID 83422 or visit Just Give. Please make a note in the memo section of your check “Wray Landon Legacy Fund”.
Funeral arrangements have been made for St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Idaho Falls on Saturday, February 27th at 2pm. Please watch local papers for more information.
In addition to funeral services there will be a memorial gathering held at the Teton Teepee Lodge, in Alta, Wyoming, at 3pm on Sunday, February 28th. Friends are encouraged to ski a run, or take a walk or run, that day in honor of Wray, who is famous for getting into the mountains at least once a day. The memorial gathering is a potluck and an opportunity to hear stories about Wray’s life and how he touched those around him.