Master Site Plan

Help us take the next step

Completing our new, state-of-the-art bear gardens was an essential first step. Now, we are ready to take the next step for the rest of our animals.

As part of that objective, we invited The Epsten Group and Ursa International, the team who designed our bear gardens, to create a property-wide Master Plan. They will provide essential guidance in determining how to meet the physical, mental, and emotional needs of our sanctuary and rehabilitation animals. This design team consists of some of the world’s foremost experts in creating zoological garden designs that prioritize an animal’s ability to thrive, while also respecting the land. Our experience with them during the design and build of our new bear gardens was exceptional, and our bears’ response to their new homes has been a joy to behold.

Design team members spent three days with us, walking the land and immersing themselves in our daily operations to get a better understanding of our goals for the future. The end result is an overarching, living plan for Earthfire animals that works with the land and nature in a life affirming manner. It is a plan that provides as much space for each animal as possible while improving team facilities and enhancing visitor access for the intimate experiences we provide through custom visits and multi-day retreats.

Our next goal is new wolf gardens. The existing garden will remain, but fencing will be replaced and the moat will be reconfigured to provide better access to new overnight wolf enclosures. A second wolf garden will be created with overnight enclosures that emphasize a natural habitat. It will double the amount of time our wolves spend at play each day. A new observation area will provide incredible views of both Wolf Gardens, with expansive views of the Grand Teton Mountain Range in the background.

The Plans

Illustrated site use plan for Earthfire Institute
Click to download full-size image.

Our goal is to give our animals the safety and care of sanctuary life with as much of the richness and diversity of life in the wild as possible. And it will allow visitors and supporters—whether in person or through photos and videos—a chance to connect personally and intimately with each unique animal and experience the power of Reconnection Ecology®.


Visitor Parking and Trail

The new visitor parking area will be located at the bottom entry point to the sanctuary. This will be a controlled point of entry, where guests are immediately immersed in nature as team members guide them to the Welcome Garden (2), a rustic garden including a variety of native plants, shrubs, trees, and flowers. There, visitors will be introduced to the sanctuary and the many experiences that await.

Small Animal Gardens

The original bear enclosures and north Bear Garden will be replaced with 3 separate gardens that can house a porcupine, badger, and skunk.

Cougar Garden

The former southern Bear Garden will become the Cougar Garden, providing more space to run, jump, and lounge in the sun. The existing Cougar Garden will be converted to a Small Cat Garden (8a) that can house either bobcats or lynx.


Designed to provide vital wetland habitat to native birds and other wildlife when seasonal water is no longer available.

Bear Gardens Phase 1

Two newly completed 1 acre Grizzly Bear Gardens. Bear Gardens Phase 2 (13) will be a mirror image of Phase 1, but Phase 2 will be designed more specifically for black bears.

Existing Wolf Garden

The existing Wolf Garden will remain, but fencing will be replaced and the moat will be reconfigured to provide better access to new overnight wolf enclosures and for snow removal. Wolf Garden number 2 (19) will be separated from the existing Wolf Garden by additional overnight enclosures that provide a more natural habitat for them. The second garden will double the amount of time our wolves will spend in the garden each day.

Wolf Overlook

A currently unused grassy area overlooking the existing Wolf Garden will provide incredible views of both Wolf Gardens, with expansive views of the Teton Mountains in the background.

Wendy's Garden and Cave

Built from donations made in loving memory of Windland “Wendy” Smith Rice, the existing garden and cave will be completed to enhance visitor experiences. A waterfall will cascade down from the Wolf Overlook above into a small pool below and feature a hidden cave behind it.

Existing Small Animal Garden

Currently used by foxes and coyotes, it will remain and be expanded to provide a larger garden specifically for coyotes.

Coyote and Fox Care Center

New fox and coyote overnight enclosures will replace existing enclosures and will be located between the Coyote and Fox Gardens.

Fox Gardens

Two to three new Fox Gardens will be built to provide ample garden time for resident foxes on a daily basis.

Equine Pasture

Existing pasture will be expanded for our grazing animals.

Beaver Pond Water Storage and Channels:

A long-term water storage pond with irrigation ditch modifications to provide year-round water. The area will also serve as a sanctuary or rehabilitation habitat for otters or beavers.

Rehabilitation Center

An area nestled away from sanctuary animals and designed to house orphaned or injured wild mammals in need of rehabilitation, followed by release back into the wild. Our unique rural setting allows the opportunity to provide natural rehabilitation habitats for squirrels, badgers, coyotes, foxes, black bear cubs, wolves, mountain lions, and many other wildlife species of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Bees (Not Pictured)

Open space will provide vital habitat to set up a bee colony designed to propagate native bees while also teaching bee propagation and dare and providing organic honey to our bears.

Help us bring the master plan to life

Our ambitious plans for growth at Earthfire Institute include enriched habitats for all of our animals, implementing permaculture principles, establishing self-sufficiency through water retention and solar energy, and creating state-of-the-art facilities for animal care, land stewardship operations, and providing paradigm-shifting visitor experiences. Completing this project will cost approximately $15 million dollars. Donations are the cornerstone of our ability to bring our Master Site Plan to fruition, and we are profoundly grateful for every penny.

You can help by making a one time or recurring donation that supports our efforts to provide first class animal care, rescue and rehabilitate wildlife, preserve precious wildlands and ecosystems, and inspire individual and collective action on behalf of all Life.

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