film screening benefits American Rivers

By Jim Stanford on March 26, 2013

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From its beginnings as a trickle of snowmelt off Two Ocean Pass to the thunderous cataracts of its Grand Canyon and sinuous meandering through the plains of Montana, the Yellowstone River is the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states.

A new film by Hunter Weeks follows a 30-day journey by drift boat down the river to its confluence with the Missouri at Fort Buford, N.D. Where the Yellowstone Goes chronicles the people and landscapes the party encounters while floating and fishing this majestic waterway.

Weeks will show the film and take questions Wednesday night in a benefit for American Rivers at the Pink Garter Theater. Tickets are $10, available online or at Jack Dennis Sports and Teton Mountain Lodge. Showtime is 7 p.m.

I’ve always thought of the Yellowstone as one of the uppermost headwaters of the Mississippi. Along those lines, I’d someday like to make a journey from Atlantic Creek all the way to New Orleans.

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Trust seals Hoback deal

By Jim Stanford on January 2, 2013

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The deal ensures that the Hoback headwaters will be saved.

The Trust for Public Land announced today it has raised the $8.75 million needed to buy drilling leases and protect 58,000 acres of the Wyoming Range south of Jackson from oil and gas development.

The deal ensures that fracking will not occur in some of the headwaters of the Hoback River, and up to 136 wells will not be drilled in a pristine area prized for hunting, fishing, hiking and horseback riding.

The trust had been racing a Dec. 31 deadline to raise the necessary funding, which will be paid to Plains Exploration and Production of Houston, the company that owned the drilling rights.

“I can’t think of a better way to start off the New Year. This solution honors the wishes of the people of Wyoming and protects a vital corner of Greater Yellowstone for generations to come,” said Will Rogers, TPL president and CEO.

The largest donation came from Hansjörg Wyss, a Wilson homeowner who contributed $4.25 million through his charitable foundation. Joe Ricketts, the TD Ameritrade founder and part owner of the Chicago Cubs who owns a home near Bondurant, gave $1.75 million, including an eleventh-hour gift of $750,000 that pushed the campaign across the finish line, the trust said in a release.

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plan future of BLM parcels on Snake

By Jim Stanford on November 8, 2012

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The stretch of the Snake between Wilson and South Park contains several BLM parcels prized for recreation. Click to enlarge.

Tonight Jackson-Teton County Parks and Recreation and the Snake River Fund will host an open house to help plan the future of BLM parcels along the Snake.

The open house is from 5 to 7 p.m. at the 4-H building, 255 W. Deloney Ave., adjacent to Miller Park. The county will present results of its user survey, along with maps and projected timelines for improving the Wilson and South Park access points. Representatives from WyDOT, Wyoming Game and Fish, Bridger-Teton National Forest and outfitters also will participate.

The decision over how to manage the Snake between Wilson and South Park is likely to be contentious. Already, John Wasson and other river advocates have called for limiting commercial use on the 13-mile stretch, while outfitters have drafted their own management plan.

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Sandy Z dies while hiking on pass

By Jim Stanford on October 15, 2012

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Sandy Z at home on Fish Creek.

Authorities have identified the hiker who died yesterday on Mount Glory as Wilson resident A.A. Zvegintzov, better known by his nickname, Sandy Z.

Zvegintzov appears to have died of natural causes related to a medical condition, according to the News&Guide. He was 73 years old.

Sandy Z was a river guide, ski instructor, sailor and painter. He likely was one of the first to use the phrase “downward mobility,” explaining his move from a career in law to guiding on the Snake for Barker-Ewing in the 1980s.

He notched more than 11,000 miles as a boatman and more than 3 million vertical feet as a ski instructor at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. In recent years he focused on painting at his home studio on Fish Creek, accessed by the small wooden bridge behind Pearl Street Bagels.

His full name was Alexander Alexandrovich (Russian for Alex Jr.). A Philadelphia native, he moved to Jackson Hole in 1972. His tall, bony frame was hard to miss.

I wrote a profile of him for the JH News in 1999, after he returned from a four- year, solo sailing voyage around the Caribbean. “It was a fabulous adventure,” he told me. “Not many people on the face of the Earth are going to do that.”

(Photo by John Slaughter)

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Wyo. Range, Hoback saved from drilling threat

By Jim Stanford on October 5, 2012

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Members of the Jackson Hole Kayak Club display their opposition to the drilling proposal for the Hoback headwaters last year. American Rivers included the Hoback on its list of America’s most endangered waterways.

Hunters, hikers, kayakers and anglers are about to celebrate, as a conservation group has reached a deal to buy the last remaining oil and gas leases in the Wyoming Range south of Jackson.

A source last night said the drilling company finally agreed to sell the leases, ensuring that the pristine mountain range and headwaters of the Hoback River will be spared fracking and other development. The Associated Press confirmed the deal this morning. A full press release appears after the jump.

The Trust for Public Land will purchase the leases from Houston-based Plains Exploration and Production Co. for $8.75 million, AP reported. The group still must raise half the money by the end of the year.

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