The Teton Regional Land Trust had a rare opportunity recently to host members of the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (NAWCC) for a tour showcasing Teton Valley conservation successes. The council, comprised of numerous federal agencies and leading non-profit conservation groups, administers the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Grant which funds wetland conservation projects in the United States, Canada and Mexico for the benefit of wetlands-associated birds and other wildlife.
The Teton Regional Land Trust based in Driggs was asked to host the tour as part of the Council’s annual meeting which was held in Jackson Hole this year. Despite its relatively small size, the Land Trust has established itself as one of the most effective conservation organizations in the nation in regards to its ability to secure NAWCA grants and protect important wetland habitat. The Land Trust has secured eight $1 Million grants to support conservation across its service area with five of those grants focused on the Teton Valley. These grants have been leveraged by nearly $41 Million in private funding and donated easement value. To date the funding has been used to protect over 11,500 acres of land and 2,500 acres of restoration.
“The Land Trust was honored to host the Council tour and to show off the incredible resources we have been working to protect over the last 20 years” said Chet Work, Executive Director of the Land Trust. “The Teton Valley is a very special place and we are grateful to the Council for their consistent support of our work to protect the scenic, cultural and wildlife resource that are found here”
The tour highlighted prime wetland bird habitats in Teton Basin that were protected using funding from NAWCA grants. Grant funds compensate local families for restricting development on their property. In many cases the grant funds are critical to keeping ranches and farms in local hands and maintaining their agricultural operations. Landowner, David Breckenridge gave a heartfelt testimony about how NAWCA funding has helped his family protect 278 acres along the Teton River.
“We are grateful for Teton Regional Land Trust and the NAWCA program that enabled our family to accomplish our conservation goals on this property, landowner David Breckenridge explained. “Without NAWCA funding, we would not have been able to place this property under a perpetual conservation easement.”
"Several members of the Council remarked that the Teton Valley field tour was one of the very best they had ever experienced in conjunction with a Council meeting," said Dave Smith, Coordinator of the Intermountain West Joint Venture, whose staff hosted the Council meeting and worked with the Land Trust on the tour.
For more information about the Teton Regional Land Trust visit www.tetonlandtrust.org or call 208-354-8939.