Visiting Jackson Hole this past week revealed a whole new world of mountain architecture to me. The Tetons are a naturally constructed piece of art, majestic in their scale and staggering in their beauty. Sadly, it is a beauty partially clothed in the smoke from the western fires raging in California and elsewhere. Sheep, deer, elk and bison roam the deep valleys. People in cars stop abruptly along the road in Teton National Park to observe and photograph the animals strolling nonchalantly across the roads and throughout the forest. The summer season is now coming to an end; hay is being rolled to provide feed for the cattle over the winter. The first snow is not yet in the air, but the animals sense it is around the corner. The elk have come down from the mountain heights to feed for the winter months.
The local people are happy for the tourist traffic but cautious of the Delta variant. Restaurants have resumed mask mandates for entry again. The threat of another economic shutdown is chilling. Oh, to be as carefree as the animals, who have no concern for the delta variant or the state of the economy. In the open spaces of the Grand Teton National Park, it certainly makes it easier to forget the cares of the world. We have Laurance Rockefeller to thank for the donation and protection of some 1100 acres of public park land in Wyoming. His foresight and generosity now benefit all of us, as well as the wildlife.
I had a brief talk with a ranger who manages a large historic ranch called Cunningham, located outside Jackson. Dressed in jeans, a straw cowboy hat and a blue denim shirt, he guided me and Erik to an area along the Snake River where the buffalo congregate. He emphasized the importance of being comfortable with the animals. “Do not startle them,” he said. “They are gentle souls.” I appreciate the genuine caring this ranger has for his wards. He described how he is creating dams to irrigate the extensive fields so the Buffalo will have winter feeding islands throughout the prairie. From this devoted ranger to the Rockefeller family, we need more people like them, with the passion to preserve and protect the lands we all share through our national parks. It is the task of every generation to continue the stewardship of this gift of nature.