Absaroka-Beartooth Front Campaign

Heart Mountain rises above the surrounding sagebrush-covered landscape near Cody, Wyoming

Sometimes I feel like Chicken Little writing about so many threatened places in the West. It’s the nature of this line of work, something to be mindful of with so many great opportunities to protect special places. The Absaroka-Beartooth Front (pronounced Ab-zorka) is a special place where we have a good chance of keeping it as it is – wild and uniquely Western. I’m working with Greater Yellowstone Coalition and the International League of Conservation Photographers on a “Tripods In The Mud” Campaign to protect the A-B Front while steering energy development away from sensitive habitats. I think we have a great chance of being successful. The images that follow are just a few from my first expedition to Cody, Wyoming and the surrounding area. Please check back as this project continues to develop!

Aerial view of an elk herd on Carter Mountain, Washakie Wilderness Area, Wyoming

Tundra Flowers on Beartooth Pass, Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming

Bull riding at the Cody Night Rodeo, Cody, Wyoming

Sunset on badlands at McCullough Wilderness Study Area. Park County, Wyoming.

4 thoughts on “Absaroka-Beartooth Front Campaign

  1. Stunning pictures, Dave. What I don’t get about Wyoming is that the locals project a similar public discourse to Colorado, pre-1970/80s regarding population growth and their desire for isolationism, yet they proceed to make all of the mistakes that Colorado has: Selling out the landscape for energy/mineral exploration, encouraging growth where it will boost the value of the land, marketing it to the rest of the country in the form of bill boards and magazine ads, and luring tourism on a national level. I often times think that they don’t know what they have and don’t realize what effect their actions will have on the landscape that they claim to love. Regrettably, it seems that they’re a target no matter what happens — if the landscape can be conserved, it opens it up to tourism; if it can’t be conserved, it opens it up to energy extraction. Either way, it seems that it will end up mined. I long for the days when this region of the West was unknown by the big business men/developers of the East and West population centers. It seems like only then was it truly safe from mass exploitation for corporate financial gain.

    1. Thanks Peter – there are plenty of heartbreaking stories out there, not just in Wyoming, but throughout the Intermountain West. And yes, Wyoming is an energy state that didn’t suffer like the rest of the nation during the recession. Whether it’s Moffatt County, Colorado, or Sublette/Park County, Wyoming, you’ll find people who want to develop wherever possible – you’ll also find others who revere the land and are willing to take a stand to keep special places as they are for future generations. I’ve worked with cowboys, hunters, outfitters, birders, anglers, energy developers, conservationists, government agencies… all passionate about the land and willing to stand up to conserve special places. It’s often quite complex, but more and more people are realizing that wild landscapes and functioning ecosystems are finite and worth protecting. At least I hope so – certainly awareness about hydraulic fracturing has grown exponentially in the last year.

  2. Sorry, Dave, but we need more Chicken Littles sharing about our threatened world. So, keep it up, as it inspires some of us to do the small things we need to do to conserve this land. Thank you for you efforts!

    By the way I enjoyed your book, Prairie Thunder, which I purchased at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal gift store. Your book has lead to an interest in our plains, the one I’ve lived next to for over 50 years. Living along the Front Range many of us look to the mountains and forget about the grassland to our east. I’ve since read several books on the prairie and how much harm we done to the land the natives. I now drive out east on country roads just to sit and take it all in.

    1. I really appreciate your thoughtful comments, Monte. The whole Chicken Little thing is a balancing act, isn’t it? And after all, there’s still some amazing country worthy of protection and many lifetimes of exploration. Yet we’ve demonstrated a remarkable ability to really screw things up, then try to put it all back together in a way that sort of resembles a functioning landscape. And we have a very long way to go in terms of getting people to understand and care about what’s happening here in the West. Hearing how you’ve taken to the plains inspires me to do more. Thanks for stoking the fire!

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