JACKSON, Wyo. — Living in the Tetons can be a constant push and pull between enjoying the natural world and doing our best to preserve it.

Teton Conservation District assembled 40 local partners to produce a guide that serves as an introduction and an invitation to environmental stewardship for those living in and visiting the region.

Teton County is surrounded by some of the most remote and intact wilderness in the lower 48 states, but our human footprint is growing. The spread of invasive species, structures lost to wildfire and degraded water quality are only some of the symptoms of our impact. Many share concerns that development is outpacing conservation.

The Mountain Neighbor Handbook: A Local’s Guide to Stewardship in the Tetons” focuses on everything from wildlife and habitat to energy and waste to help readers navigate the realities of living in this wild place. 

Over 40 local entities have contributed to the new handbook led by Teton Conservation District, Teton County, Town of Jackson and the Jackson Hole Land Trust.

For Jackson homeowner Erika Olde, she was relieved to find all the information she needed in one place throughout the pages of the Mountain Handbook.

“You hear a lot of different rules or guidelines as to what is required in the County,” said Olde. “But no one has ever seen any of it in writing unless you look up legal code, which no one is likely to have the time to do.”

“This is a very helpful and concise breakdown of the guidelines.”

Erika Olde, Jackson homeowner

Olde added that the handbook outlines residents’ responsibilities and the purpose behind certain guidelines.

In a recent webinar hosted by the National Park Service, project partners highlighted the development and implementation of this handbook that serves as a new model for locally-led conservation.

Carlin Girard, executive director of Teton Conservation District, expressed that the genesis of the handbook was rooted in community demand.

“In the last couple of years, in particular, we have heard resoundingly a concern from residents… and that got us thinking.” 

Photo: Courtesy of Teton Conservation District

Phoebe Coburn, communications specialist with the Teton Conservation District and the driving force behind the handbook, explained that this project thrived and built momentum due to its collaborative nature.

“The heart of this project is partnership,” Coburn said. “Because there were so many partners involved it feels to me like this resource has really become a community-owned document.”

Local wildlife and conservation experts echoed Coburn’s sentiments and added how pertinent this resource has become especially with growing visitation and new homeowners in Teton County.

Teton County Project Manager Chris Colligan spoke about the widespread reach of the handbook, from both old and new residents to visitors alike. As this educational tool is delivered to an extensive demographic, it will be more effective in ensuring the ecosystem is preserved for current and future generations to enjoy.

“There’s not a lot of great tools to reach out to new residents and long-lived homeowners, this information is beneficial to all that live here in this community,” said Colligan. “That’s a part of this effort that was really effective, it’s reaching segments of our community, not just visitors and new homeowners, but all people here.”

Chip Jenkins, superintendent at Grand Teton National Park noted how vital citizen stewardship is when talking about conservation, and that prior to the handbook, a resource like this did not exist especially when folks asked the question “How can we help?”

This now gives us a tool to easily hand to folks and say… Here you go, here’s more resources.”

Chip Jenkins

The Mountain Neighbor project doesn’t stop here. Over time, the website will be built out to offer more information and engage ambassadors and sponsors of the project to help carry forward our community’s shared vision for natural resource stewardship.

The free handbook can be found online at mountainneighbor.org. Hardcopies are available at the Teton Conservation District office at 420 W. Pearl Ave. in Jackson. If you would like to distribute the guide through your business or organization, please reach out to info@tetonconservation.org.

Project Contributors

  • Advocates for Multi-Use of Public Lands
  • Bantam Design
  • Bridger-Teton National Forest
  • Energy Conservation Works
  • Friends of Pathways
  • Friends of the Bridger-Teton
  • Friends of the Teton River
  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Greater Yellowstone Coalition
  • Jackson Hole Bird & Nature Club
  • Jackson Hole Clean Water Coalition
  • Jackson Hole Community Pathways
  • Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance
  • Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum
  • Jackson Hole Land Trust
  • Jackson Hole Nordic
  • Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation
  • Kevin Krasnow
  • PAWS of Jackson Hole
  • Protect Our Water Jackson Hole
  • Shacks on Racks
  • Slow Food in the Tetons
  • Snake River Fund
  • Teton Area Wildfire Protection Coalition
  • Teton Board of Realtors
  • Teton Climate Action Plan
  • Teton Conservation District
  • Teton County
  • Teton County Emergency Management
  • Teton County Integrated Solid Waste & Recycling
  • Teton County Weed & Pest District
  • Teton Plants
  • Teton Raptor Center
  • The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming
  • Town of Jackson
  • Treeline Strategies
  • Trout Unlimited
  • Wyoming Game & Fish Department
  • Wyoming Wilderness Association
  • Yellowstone-Teton Clean Cities