Capstone Gift from the Hamill Family Foundation
Teton Regional Land Trust is overjoyed to announce that the Hamill Family Foundation has shown unprecedented support and commitment to the natural resources, conservation and agricultural heritage in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, through a $1,250,000 capstone gift to the Legacy of Land Campaign.
The announcement of this capstone gift and the public phase of the Legacy of Land campaign follows four years of successful private fundraising thanks to many generous donors. The Hamill Family Foundation gift does come with a challenge. Teton Regional Land Trust will need to raise an additional $250,000 of support during 2023 in order to get the final $250,000 of their gift. TRLT is asking friends and supporters to join TRLT’s directors, staff and private donors by investing in the future of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by making a gift in support of the campaign. Each gift received, up to $250,000, will be matched 1:1 by the Hamill Family Foundation.
“Although a ‘prairie girl’ from Illinois, the Tetons have deeply impacted me since childhood. Four generations of the Hamill family owe a great deal of our appreciation for the natural environment to this spectacular area of the earth. Our support for the Teton Regional Land Trust reflects deep confidence in its staff and volunteers who are committed to preserving this spellbinding landscape in which wildlife and people thrive. We hope that the entire community will join the Hamill Family Foundation supporting the future success of the Land Trust.”
– NANCY HAMILL WINTER
Legacy of Land Campaign
CAMPAIGN GOAL $10,000,000 IN 5 YEARS
Conservation Action Fund
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has quite an allure. The diverse wildlife, iconic mountain vistas, and proximity to national parks draw people from all over the world. As more and more people come to enjoy this iconic place, the greater our impact has on the region’s wildlife and character. The pressures and tension from habitat fragmentation and development will never disappear – but we can work to make sure that the impact is balanced with the permanent protection of the very places that make our region special. That is the heart of our work at the Land Trust. Despite our success – over 34,000 acres permanently conserved – our region still faces many challenges that threaten the natural resources upon which we rely for ecological, cultural, and economic vitality. Today, we stand at a critical juncture. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the most diverse and ecologically unique ecosystems in the world in which many tracts of land are still unprotected. We need your help to protect these iconic lands and ensure Yellowstone’s legacy will be passed on to the future.
LANDSCAPE SCALE CONSERVATION
We proactively seek projects that help sustain the essential character and ecological function of the region. Using science-based planning, we focus on buffering public lands and protecting migration corridors, rivers and wetlands, climate resilient lands, and working farms and ranches.
We work to sustain the species of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Building on 30 years of conservation, our projects work to ensure the viability of umbrella species, notably Sandhill Cranes and Trumpeter Swans. Protecting habitat for these species protects the natural and agricultural resources for all wildlife and our communities.
COMMUNITY CONSERVATION AND PUBLIC ACCESS
We work with community partners on projects that demonstrate the relevance of the Land Trust’s mission and that engage our community in the social, ecological, and economic benefits of natural resource conservation. Our work in this area strives to connect people to nature and encourage responsible stewardship.
ECOLOGICAL MONITORING AND RESTORATION
We perform ecological monitoring of priority species, including the staging population of Sandhill Cranes and breeding songbirds, to inform our conservation priorities. Our restoration projects increase the public benefit of these preserved lands by improving the ecological function of wildlife habitat and the vitality of working lands.
Conservation easements were created, and approved by federal tax authorities, to provide voluntary options for landowners to ensure that their families’ property – their legacy – maintains its natural beauty, habitat for wildlife and fish, and agricultural productivity, forever. When we draft an easement, in concert with a private landowner, language in the easement prohibits encroachment and destruction of the very values that the present landowner is trying to protect.
As properties move from generation to generation or are sold to a new owner, the conservation easement agreement assures that the natural values are protected and its conservation values remain intact. It is the Land Trust’s responsibility to uphold these protections, no matter what the situation is. We have that promise to keep.
Land trusts are unique in that our mission and charter requires providing perpetual stewardship of conservation easements, forever. Other organizations do not have this mandate. This stewardship mandate means, at a minimum, an annual visit to each landowner to assure the terms of the conservation easement are being upheld. It also entails a myriad of other responsibilities, including ensuring specific rights being exercised by the landowner are in compliance, consulting legal counsel, maintaining positive landowner relationships, and defending the language and intent of the easement when necessary.
The array of potential costs required to meet this mandate is extremely hard to predict, especially when they might arise decades from now. Recently, we undertook a review of these potential costs, projecting as best we could, the future expenses associated with stewarding our current 148 easements, a number that grows every year. This is not an exact science but, relying on our own experience and collaborating with other land trusts, we concluded that to fully fund our stewardship program into the future, we need $4,250,000 in dedicated funds. We are presently underfunded in our stewardship endowment by $2,250,000. We have taken steps to assure that new easements, added each year, are adequately funded going forward so that this deficit does not increase. With your support through the Legacy of Land Campaign you can help us fill the gap so we can fulfill our most important promise to the easement donors and our community, protection FOREVER.
The steady mission-driven advancement of the Teton Regional Land Trust is made possible through the dedicated annual support of our members; accounting for around $600,000 each year. The Annual Fund provides the resources necessary to implement day to day tasks that advance our programmatic goals and to allow us to carry out our land protection, stewardship and development programs. Your annual support plays a major role in collaborative projects such as the Teton Creek Corridor Project and conservation partnerships along the South Fork, and Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. This support also enables us to carry out species conservation projects such as the Trumpeter Swan Nesting Reintroduction Project and the Greater Yellowstone Sandhill Crane Initiative. By providing an unrestricted gift on an annual basis, you ensure not only the advancement and integrity of great conservation projects, but as importantly, the resources, training, and support we need to advance our mission.
Together, the Land Trust’s staff bring over 100 years of experience to the organization. As part of ensuring the Land Trust’s continuity from year to year, we studied our organizational patterns of income, from all sources, in really good times, really bad times, and everything in between over the last 25 years. Through this analysis we determined what we need in reserve to keep the lights on and maintain our staff in tough times/an economic down turn so we can continue carrying out our mission of protecting and stewarding land. The analysis revealed that we need to add to our safety net in the amount of $500,000. This amount will assure that even in recessions, stock market crashes, and leadership transitions we can continue to conserve and steward land, critical fish wildlife habitat, and the incredible landscape of eastern Idaho.