ooking east from Rusty and Karen Vest’s property along Packsaddle Road you’ll take in a spectacular view of the Tetons. To the west, the Big Hole Mountains loom behind the willow-laden banks of the Teton River. Their 120 acre property and the adjacent 40 acres was once proposed and approved for a 12 lot subdivision complete with a commercial fishing lodge. This level of development would have had an impact on the river, the fishery, the active bald eagle nest, the big game, wintering trumpeter swans and certainly the scenery for the public using the Teton River. Fortunately for our community the Vests did not want to see the property developed. The Vests worked with the Teton Regional Land Trust in 2005 to craft a conservation easement to permanently protect the 120 acres along the Teton River.
Recently, the Vests purchased the additional 40 acres to the east of their existing property. The newly acquired acreage has been under conservation easement since 2004. The Vests decided to further protect the property’s conservation value by eliminating the possibility of development completely. The couple worked with the Land Trust to amend the 2004 conservation easement that originally allowed for one home on the 40 acres. The Vest’s amendment to the conservation easement now eliminates any development on the land. The amendment was recorded with the county last week.
“The protection of this property is an amazing story of the passion and generosity the Vests have for the land and the valley” said Chet Work, Director of the Land Trust. “Similar stories have played out again and again along the river, and the land trust now holds easements over nearly 7500 acres along the Teton River and its tributaries. The increased protection the Vests were willing to apply to the property is an exclamation point on the end of the story of a poorly planned development.”
The conservation easements which protect the Vests properties are legal agreements that allow for farming and ranching on the property but permanently restrict the type and amount of future development that can occur on the property. Conservation easements not only preserve scenic views and wildlife habitat, they also preserve the agricultural way of life.
For more information about conservation easements or Teton Regional Land Trust visit www.tetonlandtrust.org or call 208-354-8939.