Sometimes I wonder what I'm a gonna do but there ain't no cure for the summer time blues, Eddie Cochran 1958. Most of you will not remember that song but I do and it came to mind when I landed at Aspen airport and realized hardly a flight this summer has gone by without some sort of weather challenge. Instead of our typical bluebird skies, they have been gray and threatening for most of the summer, and that gives a conservation pilot the blues...
The Red Desert has immense value for a number of stakeholders including ranchers, historians, archeologists, birders, hunters, geologists, and many others. Currently, our partners at Wyoming Wilderness Association are working to develop consensus on future management for the Red Desert amongst a variety of stakeholders. This work is part of an effort to increase stakeholder communication and consensus that is a key component during the Rock Springs BLM Resource Management Plan Revision and for future congressional protections.
The Upper Clark Fork sits at a pivotal junction for both wildlife and people, because it lies between two keystone ecosystems: the Greater Yellowstone/High Divide on the south and the Crown of the Continent/Glacier region to the north. As important and impressive as each of these ecosystems is separately, it is only together with the intervening ranchlands of the Upper Clark Fork that the true conservation value and long-term community resiliency of the Northern Rockies can be realized.
The Clearwater-Blackfoot Project is one of the largest and most significant unprotected private parcels surrounding the Crown of the Continent. These lands and waters provide critical habitat for threatened Canada lynx and grizzly bears and is regularly traversed by wolverines - one of the rarer mammals left in the continental U.S. It also provides wildlife with connections to other protected land vital to their health and resilience, including the Rattlesnake Wilderness and the South Fork Jocko Primitive Area.
The High Divide is a patchwork of private, state and federal land that connects Yellowstone National Park with the central Idaho wild lands, including the Frank Church Wilderness, and has been identified as one of the most ecologically important natural landscapes in the United States. The area is famous for its working ranches, abundance of fish and wildlife and outstanding opportunities for recreation and scenic beauty.
The Boulder-White Clouds are a crown jewel of Central Idaho. This is where the headwaters of four major river systems originate, where unique critters are found such as bighorn sheep and the elusive wolverine, where the highest-elevation salmon runs in North America occur, as well as rare plants found nowhere else on earth. The region is one of the last, largest under-protected roadless landscapes in the lower 48 states and supports all types of recreational opportunities.
The Trampe Ranch extends over 30 miles along the East River Valley and provides 6,000 acres of some of the most outstanding scenery and open space in Colorado. The effort to preserve the ranch through conservation easement is an opportunity to protect stream habitat, montane meadows, local food production and the beauty that draw visitors to the area.
From its ancient groves of western red cedars and temperate rainforest, to its sprawling alpine meadows, the Great Burn provides crucial habitat connectivity for elk, mountain goats, and wolverines. The area is in close proximity to Missoula and offers some of the best alpine access for hikers and horse-packers in the Northern Rockies.
The longest ungulate migration ever recorded in the lower 48 was recently discovered by a group of researchers at the University of Wyoming. Migration routes of mule deer were found to extend 150 miles from the Red Desert via the Wind River Range to its northernmost point of Hoback Junction in the Wyoming Range. The future integrity of these herds depends on their ability to migrate seasonally from low elevation winter ranges to high elevation summer ranges.
Sometimes, zooming around in the wild blue yonder can be rather phantasmagoric (a word I learned from my beautiful co-pilot and partner Janey. Definition: having a fantastic or deceptive appearance, as something in a dream or created by the imagination.) One minute you're on the ground in stormy lush green Choteau, Montana, and in the next few hours you are over a totally new environment such as the red rocks of Moab, Utah. Or perhaps the jungles of Belize one day, and a few days later flying over the snowcapped peaks of Colorado.
Our flights also took us over Mt. Tenabo, a region that is sacred to the Western Shoshone and has been used for cultural and traditional purposes. Despite objections from members of the Shoshone, the industry was able to proceed in developing The Cortez Hills mine on the Mt. Tenabo. The impacts of such a mine on a sacred landscape are made grimly apparent from the air.
The Nature Conservancy has acquired 117,152 acres from the Plum Creek timber company, securing another piece of private land that makes up the landscape known as the Crown of the Continent. These acres were the last of the land once owned by Plum Creek within the Blackfoot River Valley.

Starship 1XE sits comfortably in its shelter while conservation flying continues in a TBM 700, a single engine turboprop that can fly at 300 knots and up to 31,000 ft. There are many ways to protect and conserve land. We can legislate, mandate, regulate and even monument-ate it. Or the old fashioned way ... buy it.

This overflight helped us identify conservation sites with the greatest potential for restoration. These were sites with a high diversity of habitat types, pools, riffles and backwaters. It is imperative that these species are conserved, as they are an integral part of the ecosystem, and aren't found anywhere else on the planet.
The BLM released a proposed final plan for its Oil and Gas Amendment to a Resource Management Plan for the White River Field Office in Colorado in March 2015. The plan proposes drilling over 15,000 new oil and gas wells in the Piceance Basin (up from 1,800 wells currently) over the next 20 years...
EcoFlight recently participated in a tribal gathering with members of Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, Hopi, Zuni, Pueblo and Hualapai tribes and flew them over a landscape that is special to all of them in San Juan County, Utah called Bears Ears.
Dunn Road from the air looks like a rugged 30-mile dirt road, stemming off I-74 and winding its way through the middle of the Santa Rosa Mountains. The original intent of the road was a short-cut to private residences in the mountains around Palm Springs, California.