Where We Live
We are located in the heart of rural Teton Valley, Idaho, in the western shadow of Grand Teton National park, encircled by wilderness. The Teton River runs from the surrounding mountains north to meet the Henry’s Fork of the Snake, gathering waters from the Teton and Bighole Mountains. The valley, also known as Teton Basin, is surrounded by forested highlands, most of which are part of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks lie just beyond the forests. These public lands comprise the southwestern part of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Ancient schist and gneiss, resistant to weathering, form the backbone of the Tetons. Other nearby mountain ranges are part of the sedimentary rocks of Overthrust Belt, which weathers into deep, loamy soil. In spring and after a heavy rain, the creeks naturally run high and full of silt. The rich soil sustains subalpine parklands with diverse wildflowers. The steep tilt of many of the geologic strata and the presence of cavern-forming limestone help direct ground water movement from the peaks to springs in the canyons.
High mountain peaks, rolling hills of sage, and lush river valleys add to the diverse physical character of the land and create habitats for wildlife and fish. The millions of acres of wild land in the Yellowstone region assure these habitats into the future.
Among the native wildlife are superlative examples of creatures found only in healthy, functioning ecosystems. Far-ranging carnivores at the top of the food chain give evidence of the abundance of all they depend on. Yellowstone includes one of the few remaining grizzly bear populations in the lower 48 states, the largest elk herds in North America, the largest free-roaming bison herds in the country, the biological stronghold of the Yellowstone cutthroat trout, the longest elk, pronghorn and moose migrations in North America, and the greatest concentration of bighorn sheep in the contiguous 48 states. Closer to home, Teton Valley hosts a high concentration of raptors, including great gray owls and wintering rough-legged hawks.
Wildlife must exchange genes over vast areas of space, over generations, to be able to meet the challenges of life, made even greater now by climate change. Thus there is a critical biological need for uninterrupted wildlife corridors through which animals can migrate, large and small without having to navigate developments, and other human impediments. We need areas big enough to facilitate the flow of genes, the flow of life, over time.
Earthfire lies on the southern end of the 2,000 mile Yellowstone to Yukon wildlife corridor, superbly located to teach directly about these needs. Biologist Paul Paquet notes, “What we have in the Rocky Mountains is rare—an almost complete representation of all native large mammals that roamed the great hills before Europeans arrived. It is the last great refuge for many species, a Noah’s arc of functioning populations… if we can’t save them here, we can’t save them anywhere.” And so here we are, forty acres located on the South Leigh Creek corridor, a tiny finger of a corridor which extends down to the Teton River. This connection of land all the way to the Yukon lends a vibrancy and peace to the land that is felt by all who visit.