Big Horn Basin Folk Festival – Catch it this August 6-7 in Thermopolis!

WY Public Radio third blockresized 2016 festival ad

click on the image above for a full list of Big Horn Basin Folk Festival Events & Details!

“Hear Me Now” — Wyoming Storytellers Take Spotlight

By Ellen Sue Blakely

Images provided by Hot Springs Greater Learning Foundation

For a full schedule of presenters during “Hear Me Now” Storytelling Circle, August 6-7, see Other weekend events include the Gift of the Waters Pageant Days, Kiwanis Craft Fair and the Big Horn Basin Folk Festival, with music performances all day, demonstrators, workshops, food vendors, juried art show & sale and kid-friendly activities.

When we were kids and all the cousins gathered for the annual Fourth of July ice cream and watermelon feast, our great aunt Kate kept all of us in line by expounding on a “haint” she called “Rawhide and bloody bones.” For years, we assumed Aunt Kate had made up this scary haunt of a creature.

It turns out that Kate had borrowed and adapted “Rawhide” from an Irish tale — probably one she had heard as a child from her grandparents who had come from the Emerald Isle. Aunt Kate is long gone; but, to this day, her scary rendition still brings chills and laughter to the now-aging cousins.

That’s the power of story. If you have ever sat around a campfire and told (or listened to) ghost stories or tall tales, you know its spell. Those who study stories as an art form say telling stories is the oldest art form; and from it grew poetry — rhyming was a way of remembering a longer story.

Although there has not been an organized effort at preserving Wyoming’s stories in recent years, our people have always been inveterate storytellers. Mountain men told plenty of whoppers when they gathered at the fur-trading rendezvous. Music and storytelling were common in the Native American tipis, cowboy bunkhouses, farmhand shacks and homestead cabins. It still is. Given half a chance, today’s outfitters, hunters and fishermen will regale listeners with tales about the “ones that got away.”

This year, Wyoming is taking a step to share our long-standing storytelling tradition at “Hear Me Now,” the state’s first organized Storytelling Circle. (The concept of a “storytelling circle” harks back to those days of campfires and tipis.) The event is part of the Big Horn Basin Festival, August 6-7, 2016, in Hot Springs State Park, Thermopolis. “Hear Me Now” is sponsored by Hot Springs Greater Learning Foundation with a ThinkWyoming grant from the Wyoming Humanities Council. Additional support comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund and Wyoming Arts Council.


“Hear Me Now” will be moderated by Spencer Bohren, nationally known musician and storyteller. Although Bohren now lives in New Orleans, Wyomingites still claim him as their own since he grew up in Casper, and his family still lives and plays music there. Bohren maintains strong ties with the state, presenting educational programs in the schools and public performances in Wyoming communities throughout the year.

Professional storytellers telling tales throughout the day are Michelle King, Basin; Catherine Ringler, Powell; Marilyn Braaten, Thermopolis, and Jennisen Lucas, Cody. The group recently formed the Big Horn Basin Storytelling Guild to promote the art of storytelling.

Echo Klaproth, Shoshoni, former Wyoming poet laureate, and Dick Hall, Thermopolis, cowboy poet, will bring poetry into the tent. Mike Hurwitz, who will be performing at the Big Horn Basin Folk Festival during the weekend, will drop by with his own brand of Western stories. Karl Milner, who specializes in mountain man skills, will add a story or two from the mountain man era. Annie Hatch, Wyoming Arts Council folk arts specialist, will give a bit of historical perspective on the art of Wyoming storytelling. Miss V, sometimes called “The Gypsy Cowbelle,” will talk about her adventures homesteading in Wyoming.

As a special feature, Spencer Bohren will perform his nationally acclaimed “Down the Dirt Road Blues,” 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m., Sunday, August 7, in the Storytelling Tent. Bohren uses historic music instruments as he tells how one song moved from its African roots to blues to rock and roll.

“Hear Me Now” is free and of interest to all ages. Visitors can “come sit a spell” and — if you are so inclined — you can even add your own tales — true or otherwise — during the open microphone opportunities.

After all, if you don’t tell your favorite story, who will?

WL_Linnell_weaving horsehair


Ellen Sue Blakey of Thermopolis is a textile artist, rug braider, author, musician and occasional storyteller. You can hear and see her story about rug braiding and Depression-era women on youtube. If you attend the Storytelling Circle, look her up, say the magic words “Uncle Charlie”; she may just tell you the story of Charlie, the sheriff’s hat, a blackberry pie, and how he came to Wyoming.


EXPLORE WYOMING: National Bighorn Sheep Center, Dubois

There are so many wonderful gems in our square state that are wonderful places to explore! If a Wyoming vacation is on your travel plans for this year, be sure to consider heading to Dubois – where the opportunities are endless for great recreation! The National Bighorn Sheep Center is just one wonderful place you must visit while you’re there. We enjoyed reading their end of year e-blast so much that we wanted to share their news with all our readers too …

Visit the National Bighorn Sheep Center in Dubois Online

From the National Bighorn Sheep Center …

Happy Holidays!

We thank you for your support, whether as a member, visitor, volunteer or partner organization of the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Association. You have helped make 2015 one of the best years yet for visitation to the Center and participation in our new programs and events. Check out a few photos and highlights from 2015 below.

Please consider a year-end gift to support our work in 2016. You can donate here. With your special gift of $25, $50 or $100, we’ll be educating more youth, offering new programs and supporting stewardship of our favorite wild critter, the bighorn.
Our Heroes

We want to recognize a few of our amazing volunteers who help make the magic happen here at the National Bighorn Sheep Center. Whether it’s Boyd Livingston who consistently plows our parking lot after a big snowstorm or Bill and Lori Sincavage and Karen and Mike McCullough who lend their expertise with our database, Bighorn Bash and agency research assistance, these volunteers are the backbone of our organization. Just to name a few others, Morgan Nimtz of SOAR has been a fabulous volunteer who helped display our new “Fred Bicksler” photo exhibit in the Ron Ball Gallery and spruced up our desert bighorn habitat. Additionally, Laney Hicks, Cheryl O’Brien and Carolyn Gillette have been sharing great insights and expertise for our education and communications committee efforts. Our Board of Directors made up of Mark Hinschberger, Bruce Thompson, Kathy Treanor,Mary Ann Eastman, Trudy Trevarthen and Brandon Houckare also volunteers who pitch in to lend their expertise, time and vision to our organization.

We’d especially like to say THANK YOU to our outgoing Board President Mark Hinschberger. Mark has been involved with the Bighorn Sheep Center for its entire 23 years, whether as the Forest Service Biologist with the Whiskey Mountain Technical Committee in the earlier years or as THE go-to guy for all things Bighorn Bash-related (our annual fundraiser). The organization is what it is today in large part due to Mark’s leadership, passion and commitment. We thank you, Mark for all you have done for the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Association and for bighorns!!

Thank you ALL for your commitment and hard work helping us do the important job of educating the public about bighorns! Please see a few highlights of our great volunteers below, and if you’re interested in lending a hand with upcoming projects and events, contact us today.

Outgoing Board President, life member and bighorn extraordinaire Mark Hinschberger sharing some insights and great views atop Torrey Rim during our September 2015 "Where Bighorns Roam" tour (photo courtsey of Sara Domek).
Outgoing Board President, life member and bighorn extraordinaire Mark Hinschberger sharing some insights and great views atop Torrey Rim during our September 2015 “Where Bighorns Roam” tour (photo courtsey of Sara Domek).
Volunteer, member and committee member Carolyn Gillette visits with volunteer/life member Lynn Stewart and member Mark Domek during the June 2015 Bighorn Rendezvous event at the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center (photo courtesy of Bruce S. Thompson).
Volunteer, member and committee member Carolyn Gillette visits with volunteer/life member Lynn Stewart and member Mark Domek during the June 2015 Bighorn Rendezvous event at the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center (photo courtesy of Bruce S. Thompson).
Participants hoof it up the hills outside of Dubois to visit an ancient Sheepeater Indian bighorn trapping site during our August outing co-hosted with the Dubois Museum (NBSIA photo).
Participants hoof it up the hills outside of Dubois to visit an ancient Sheepeater Indian bighorn trapping site during our August outing co-hosted with the Dubois Museum (NBSIA photo).
Education is what we are all about! Administrative Assistant Monie Finley shares information about the four North American wild sheep species with a group of students visiting the Center from China.
Education is what we are all about! Administrative Assistant Monie Finley shares information about the four North American wild sheep species with a group of students visiting the Center from China.
Member and Bighorn Bash donor Tom Lucas crafting a traditional bighorn horn bow in his Dubois studio (photo courtesy of the Dubois Frontier).
Member and Bighorn Bash donor Tom Lucas crafting a traditional bighorn horn bow in his Dubois studio (photo courtesy of the Dubois Frontier).
Volunteers Katrina and Luke Schueneman lend a hand during our 2015 Bighorn Rendezvous event held at the Bighorn Sheep Center (photo courtesy of Bruce S. Thompson).
Volunteers Katrina and Luke Schueneman lend a hand during our 2015 Bighorn Rendezvous event held at the Bighorn Sheep Center (photo courtesy of Bruce S. Thompson).
Charter members Budd Betts, Boyd Livingston and Carol Petera enjoy the sunshine and one another's company during the 2015 Bighorn Rendezvous event (photo courtesy of Bruce S. Thompson).
Charter members Budd Betts, Boyd Livingston and Carol Petera enjoy the sunshine and one another’s company during the 2015 Bighorn Rendezvous event (photo courtesy of Bruce S. Thompson).




Bill Sniffin: My Wyoming


MY WYOMING — by Bill Sniffin

Smoky times remind of state’s worst fires


As I write this, the beautiful view of the Wind River Mountains out of my window is obscured.  It is so smoky we are leaving our windows shut because it smells like a brush fire a short distance away.

In this case, that brush fire is 1,000 miles away.  Northern California and parts of Oregon and Washington are burning up.

This smoke is covering up towns all over Wyoming especially in the Big Horn Basin and Wind River Basin.

It is hard to find a city or town from Cheyenne to Evanston or Powell to Gillette in which smoke has not dominated the view. At least the sunsets and sunrises have been magnificent!

Here in Lander, we enjoyed one clear day between all the smoke from the northwest to local smoke from the Little Bob fire on the Wind River Indian Reservation.  They are letting it burn and it is over 1,500 acres and growing.

These ash clouds also remind of a time 27 years ago when Yellowstone National Park literally burned up. Here is what I recall of that event:

Is this hell?  Or is it Yellowstone? That was my exact thought as I piloted a small, single engine airplane over the vast expanse of Yellowstone National Park the first week of September, 1988, during the horrible fires that year.

Flying with me on that day was Larry Hastings, one of the best pilots and instructors in Wyoming history.  Also along and helping take photos was Mike McClure, a legend in his own right, as a premier photographer.

Both men lived in Lander. We had been talking about making this flight for some time.

It was my bright idea.  We had seen TV coverage of the fire but no one seemed to have a good aerial view.  I always want to figure out a way to take a big picture in the easiest way possible and flying over the park seemed the best plan.

Hastings was aware of the altitude restrictions, which caused us to be quite high as we flew over the world’s oldest national park while it was literally burning up.

The view was both impressive and unimpressive.  It was impressive because as far as the eye could see was smoke.  It was unimpressive because it was impossible to make out landmarks.  Not even the mountains were very visible.

What was visible were a large number of hotspots where fire would shoot 200 feet in the air.  It was hot down there.  The park I loved was going to be changed forever.

That event two and half decades ago was unprecedented in the history of the National Park Service.  There were contrasting programs of fire suppression and “controlled burns” in place, which caused the people responsible for the park’s existence to be incapable of dealing with the conflagration.

Cities and towns in a wide circle around the park enjoyed the most colorful sunsets in history.  Lander, which is a two-hour drive southeast from YNP, the evening views were unprecedented.  It was an awful time for folks with respiratory problems.  No wind and no rain could relieve these conditions.

Fighting the fires in 1988 cost $120 million which is $230 million in today’s dollars – almost a quarter of a billion dollars. It covered some 800,000 acres or over one third of the park.

Biggest fire was the North Fork fire, which was started July 22 by a cigarette dropped by a man cutting timber in the neighboring Targhee National Forest.

One of the most amazing scenes of this fire was when embers from it were sent airborne across the massive Lewis Lake by 80 mph winds setting new fires on the other side of the lake.

This complex of fires burned 140,000 acres and was finally extinguished when some welcome rains fell later that fall.

Stories about other parts of the park and the valiant effort of more than 13,000 firefighters, 120 helicopters and other aerial devices, plus National Guard and civilians detail bravery but were to no avail.  Important structures like Old Faithful Inn and the Lake Hotel were saved but efforts to stop the fires proved to be impossible.

Mother Nature wanted that fire to burn and it did until she was ready to put it out.

And that memorable day 27 years ago we were flying above a scene right out of Dante’s Inferno. I experienced a memory that I would both like to forget and yet, always recall.


Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at  He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written six books. His newest is Wyoming at 125, which is coming out in September. His books are available at


FROM THE PARKS: Fourth Graders Welcome at GTNP!



Grand Teton National Park Welcomes Fourth-Grade Students

New Program Encourages Families and Classes to Visit National Parks

MOOSE, WY — Grand Teton National Park invites all fourth-grade students to visit the park for free as part of the White House’s new Every Kid in a Park program. Fourth-grade students can visit to complete an activity and obtain a voucher for a free annual entry pass to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas and lands, including national parks.

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, “We invite all fourth graders and their families, as well as fourth-grade classes, to the park to discover, learn and have fun.” Vela said one of the goals of the program is to connect young people with the great outdoors.

To receive a voucher for their free pass for national parks, fourth graders can visit the Every Kid in a Park website and play a game to access their special voucher. Fourth graders and their families can then obtain a pass for free entry to national parks and other federal public lands and waters across the country from now through August 31, 2016.  The website also includes fun and engaging learning activities aligned to educational standards, trip planning tools, safety and packing tips and other important and helpful information for educators and parents.

In addition to providing every fourth grader in America a free entry pass for national parks and federal public lands and waters, fourth grade educators, youth group leaders and their students can participate in the program through field trips and other learning experiences.

Grand Teton National Park offers a “Weather Wonders” snow science field trip for fourth-grade classes and geology field trips in the fall and spring.  The distance-learning program “Snow Desk” broadcasts live to schools around the country during the winter.

Park personnel will be at Colter Elementary in Jackson Hole to share information at the fourth-grade parents’ night on Wednesday, September 16 from 6-7 p.m. Other schools and fourth-grade teachers that are interested in the program should contact Megan Kohli at or call 307-739-3656.

Information about additional educational opportunities with Grand Teton National Park such as curriculum materials, field trips, traveling trunks, distance learning and more is available at

The goal of the Every Kid in a Park program is to connect fourth graders with the great outdoors and inspire them to become future environmental stewards, ready to preserve and protect national parks and other public lands for years to come.  The program is an important part of the National Park Service’s centennial celebration in 2016, which encourages everyone to Find Your Park.

Every Kid in a Park is a government-wide effort, launched by President Obama, and supported by eight federal agencies, including the National Park Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Education, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

WY Beef Summer WLM 2015


NEWS FROM THE PARKS: Nuisance Black Bear with Cub Captured & Relocated to Zoo

Nuisance Black Bear with Cub Captured & Relocated to Zoo

From National Park Service

MOOSE, WY — On Wednesday afternoon, August 19, Grand Teton National Park biologists captured a female black bear and her cub that on numerous occasions acquired human food items left unattended by visitors to the String, Leigh, and Jenny Lake areas.  Due to a long history of nuisance behavior, this bear and her cub were removed from the park and relocated to the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Saturday, August 22. The decision to remove the bears from the park was made out of concern for public safety.

On Friday afternoon, August 14, park rangers hazed the adult black bear away from the String Lake picnic area. The two bears then ventured into the Teton backcountry where, later that weekend, the mother black bear was photographed tearing into a backpack and stomping on a tent at a backcountry campsite in her search for food.

Once captured, the female was identified as one that has gotten into coolers, backpacks, picnics, trash bags, and tote bags in search of human food on 17 occasions between 2012 and 2014. This behavior indicated the bear had become conditioned to associate humans with food. She was teaching her young cub that same undesirable behavior. Park managers welcomed the opportunity to relocate both of these bears to the same zoo as the alternative would have likely included separation of the cub from its mother and euthanization of the adult.

It is worth noting that failure by park visitors—including local residents—to properly secure food items and other scented items led to this action to remove the bears from their native habitat. This female bear has repeatedly gotten into backpacks and coolers left unattended by people who were swimming and picnicking in the String Lake and Leigh Lake areas.

In the past three years, park staff have seen numerous food storage violations by visitors using the String Lake beaches and picnic areas. People have left unsecured food items unattended while they enjoy wading, swimming, and boating on String Lake, and there have been many reports of black bears receiving human food. Because of this pattern of careless food storage, park officials are considering management actions including a prohibition against food items in this area.

Although cliché, it is too often true that a fed bear is a dead bear. A human food-conditioned female black bear was euthanized in mid-June out of concern for public safety after it climbed into the trunk of a vehicle and attempted to enter cabins at Jenny Lake Lodge. Fortunately, this newly captured black bear and her cub will not suffer that same fate. However, placement of wild bears in zoos is not always a viable option, and park visitors must realize that careless actions can lead to the death of bears that have been corrupted by human food. Once a bear acquires human food, it loses its fear of people and may become dangerous. Human carelessness doesn’t just endanger people; it can also result in a bear’s death.

Park officials strongly remind local residents and visitors that proper storage of food items and disposal of garbage is vitally important. With simple actions, people can help keep a bear from becoming human food-conditioned and possibly save its life. Detailed information about how to behave in bear country is available at park visitor centers and online at

NEWS FROM THE PARKS: Caution Floating the Snake

WY Beef Summer WLM 2015

Rangers Caution Visitors Floating the Snake River Between Deadman’s Bar and Moose Landing

MOOSE, WY Grand Teton National Park / National Park Service — After a recent spate of incidents on the stretch of the Snake River between Deadman’s Bar and Moose Landing, Grand Teton National Park Rangers are cautioning boaters to choose segments of river that are appropriate for their experience and ability level. Rangers have conducted rescues on the Snake River near the Bar BC Ranch for five separate parties since August 1, 2015. Though nobody was seriously injured in the incidents, the consequences of such accidents on the Snake River can be catastrophic.

Though the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park does not consist of any whitewater, it is a complex and unpredictable braided river. A strong current, shifting channels, numerous logjams, eddies, and snags all combine to make floating the Snake a challenging proposition.  These obstacles often require floaters to set up maneuvers well in advance, and inexperienced pilots often make maneuvers too late.

A raft hung up on a snag in the Snake River near Bar BC Ranch. National Park Service Photo.
A raft hung up on a snag in the Snake River near Bar BC Ranch. National Park Service Photo.

Rangers have assigned difficulty levels to the various stretches of river in the park. The section from Deadman’s Bar to Moose Landing, where all of the recent incidents have occurred, is rated “advanced.” In all five incidents, the parties involved likely did not possess appropriate skill and experience to be floating an advanced section of river. Good alternative river segments include Pacific Creek Landing to Deadman’s Bar (rated “intermediate”) and Jackson Lake Dam to Pacific Creek Landing (rated “beginner”).

The five incidents fortunately did not result in significant injuries to those involved. However, the incidents did result in several minor injuries, damaged equipment, and in one case a destroyed vessel. The five parties were respectively operating a canoe, a kayak, a raft, and two drift boats. Some of the visitors involved were local residents. In some cases, the parties were able to self-rescue and were floated to safety by rangers. In others, rangers rescued the visitors hung-up on obstructions using swift water rescue techniques. Grand Teton Lodge Company and Triangle X river guides assisted with two of the rescues.

Rangers urge all visitors planning to float the Snake River to select their river segment based on an accurate assessment of their group’s ability level. River information can be obtained at all park visitor centers. Both a park boat permit and a State of Wyoming Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) decal are required before launching on any park waters. Additionally, all watercraft entering the park are subject to an AIS inspection when checkpoints are operating.

NEWS FROM THE PARKS: Ride Menor’s Ferry at Grand Teton National Park

WY Beef Summer WLM 2015

FROM GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK:  Ride Menor’s Ferry & Experience Early Method of River Crossing on the Snake

MOOSE, WY — Ever wondered how Jackson Hole’s early settlers crossed the Snake River before bridges? Beginning Monday, July 20, visitors can take a ride on a replica ferry boat and experience crossing the Snake in the same fashion provided by Bill Menor through his routine ferry service of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Park ranger naturalists will offer free rides daily from 9:00–10:15 a.m. and 1:15–2:15 p.m., as well as before and after the ranger-led program, “A Walk into the Past,” that occurs each day at 2:30 p.m.  Call 307.739.3399 for additional operation times.

The wooden ferry boat serves as a central feature of the Menor/Noble Historic District, located just north of the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Grand Teton National Park.  Ferry rides transport visitors across the Snake River from Menor’s general store on the west bank of the river to Dornan’s on the east bank—and back.


Menors Ferry July 2015

Menor’s Ferry consists of a wooden platform deck placed upon two pontoons for flotation. The ferry is tethered to a cable system that spans the river and operates by directing the pontoons toward the opposite riverbank, allowing the power of the current to push the craft across the river channel. The system uses river power—rather than motor power—to push the ferry across the water. This type of river travel existed in ancient times and was widely used throughout the United States.

Menor’s Ferry played a vital role in providing safe transport for passengers over the swift-flowing Snake River before construction of a bridge. Prior to the ferry’s existence, the Snake River was essentially impassable from Wilson to Moran—except during low water periods in the fall and winter months. As a man of vision, Bill Menor saw the need for a more convenient access across the Snake River and consequently built and operated his ferry from 1894 until 1918 when he sold it to Maud Noble. Maud operated the ferry until 1927 when its use became obsolete after a steel truss bridge was constructed across the river, allowing for vehicles and foot traffic to cross without the assistance of a ferry service.

Although transportation has changed over time, Menor’s Ferry offers a chance to step back into the past and experience a bygone time and historic mode of river passage.


  Menors Ferry July 2015 2

Menors Ferry July 2015 3

From the Parks: Two Temp Exhibits Celebrate Wyoming at Natl Elk Refuge



WY Beef Summer WLM 2015

A reproduction of Rock Springs' Andrew Kneeland's Duck Stamp award-winning acrylic painting.
A reproduction of Rock Springs’ Andrew Kneeland’s Duck Stamp award-winning acrylic painting.

Two temporary exhibits will be on display next month at the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, located at 532 N. Cache Street in Jackson. The public is invited to view the colorful exhibits, which celebrate Wyoming successes.

From the National Elk Refuge … The first exhibit commemorates the 125th anniversary of Wyoming statehood. Wyoming became the 44th state admitted to the Union on July 10, 1890. An interactive display will give visitors an opportunity to learn more about the state’s history and fun facts. Both a Wyoming and National Elk Refuge time line will be featured, along with coloring sheets, state logos, and a Wyoming quiz. Small Wyoming flags will be given to the first 200 families that visit the exhibit, which will be in the upstairs theater from July 2 through July 12.

Later in the month, visitor center staff will add a second exhibit to the upper level of the visitor center. The Wyoming Junior Duck Stamp 2015 Artwork Tour for the Top 100 entries and National Best in Show will move from its current location at the Campbell County Public Library in Gillette to the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center from July 9 through August 2.The exhibit features an acrylic painting of two wood ducks by Andrew Kneeland, age 17, of Rock Springs. Not only was Kneeland awarded top honors in the state competition, but his artwork was judged the winner among best–of–show entries from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. His design will appear on next year’s Federal Junior Duck Stamp, scheduled to be released in June 2016.

The Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program is a dynamic educational program that uses both conservation and design principles to teach wetland habitat and waterfowl biology to students from kindergarten through high school. The program incorporates both scientific and wildlife management principles into an engaging visual arts curriculum. At the completion of their studies, participants complete a Junior Duck Stamp design, which is submitted to a state or territory contest. Top entries move on to the national competition.


Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center hours are from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm.


FROM THE PARKS: Migratory Bird Day



2015credit – Grand Teton National Park


Come Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day, May 9


MOOSE, WY —Visitors and local residents are invited to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)  at Grand Teton National Park by joining a bird-watching caravan on Saturday, May 9th. Park Ranger Andrew Langford will visit several park areas that provide the best opportunities to locate, identify, and record birds as part of the annual North American bird count and annual IMBD observance.

Anyone interested in birds is welcome. The bird-watching excursion begins at 8 a.m. from the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose and finishes by 4 p.m. at Christian Pond by Jackson Lake Lodge. This public activity is free and reservations are not required. Participants of the IMBD activity are reminded that park entrance stations are open; therefore a park pass is required for travel through any fee station.

Throughout the day, participants will take short walks at various locations, so those attending should wear comfortable shoes and bring a lunch, drinking water, warm clothing and rain gear. Bird field guides, binoculars and spotting scopes are also recommended items.

The 2015 IMBD theme, “Restore Habitat, Restore Birds,” focuses on the loss and degradation of bird habitats around the world. Urbanization and climate change are two of the primary threats to bird populations. To foster conservation efforts, IMBD suggests ways to get involved in habitat restoration projects at home, in communities, and further afield. Each habitat illustrated on the 2015 IMBD poster provides a colorful view of the places migratory birds seek for nesting, wintering, or as stopover sites during migration. Grand Teton National Park provides critical habitat for a host of migratory birds, as well as year-round species. The arrival each spring of sandhill cranes, mountain bluebirds, western tanagers, meadow larks and other charismatic and fascinating birds brings delight to park visitors and local bird watchers alike.

As always, the annual theme is relevant to host organizations and participants throughout the world. Participation in Grand Teton’s IMBD tour offers a chance to learn about the benefits of birds and their unique contribution to the health and beauty of the natural areas in northwestern Wyoming.

Observed each year in May to support avian conservation, IMBD serves as the hallmark outreach event for Partners in Flight—an international conservation program with a goal to reverse dwindling populations of migratory birds by bringing attention to factors that contribute to worldwide declines.

For more information about International Migratory Bird Day and the North American Migration Count, please call the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 307.739.3399. To learn more about the IMBD organization, go to

MADE IN WYOMING: Bill Sniffin’s book, “My Wyoming 101 Special Places”

Check out Dead Drift Fly Fishing Company's new mini store at 107 E. Grand Ave in Downtown Laramie Wyoming!
Check out Dead Drift Fly Fishing Company’s new mini store at 107 E. Grand Ave in Downtown Laramie Wyoming – for unique Wyoming wear for that avid Wyoming fan & fisherperson on your list… Click the image to connect with Dead Drift online!


Bill Sniffin book cover comp
Bill Sniffin releases his new Wyoming coffee table book, just in time for the holidays!

Sniffin Publishes Second Coffee Table Book about Wyoming Just in Time for Christmas

Wyoming author and journalist Bill Sniffin has just made available copies of his newest coffee table book about Wyoming, called MY WYOMING 101 Special Places. The book is a 156-page effort featuring 42 photographers and 156 color photos about the state, including 14 foldout pages.

His earlier book, Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders, published in 2012, has already sold 15,000 copies and is believed to be the best selling coffee table book in the state.

Sniffin, of Lander, is a photographer, journalist and entrepreneur who has lived in Wyoming for 44 years.  His weekly newspaper column appears in several newspapers each week including the Rock Springs Rocket Miner, Rawlins Daily Times, Lander Journal, Riverton Ranger, the Cheyenne Wyoming Tribune Eagle, the Evanston Uinta County Herald, Sheridan Online and occasionally in the Casper Journal, Laramie Boomerang, Pine Bluffs Post, Powell Tribune, Sundance Times, Kemmerer Gazette, Moorcroft Leader, Afton Star Valley Independent and others.

Sniffin’s newest book, MY WYOMING 101 Special Places, will be on sale the end of November. With the success of the first coffee table-style book, it only seemed practical to follow up two years later with a companion book that featured not only “natural” images but photos of man-made places and people in the photos enjoying Wyoming.

Sniffin has written three other books, which are available at fine bookstores and online at  They are all compilations of his columns.  They include Strong Winds, Blowing Snow, Slick in Spots which was published in 2011; High Altitudes, Low Multitudes in 2003; and The Best Part of America in 1993.

Over the years, Bill has been honored with the state tourism industry’s highest awards, the BIG WYO award and the Tony Bevinetto Friend of Tourism Award. His wife Nancy was honored in 2011 with Wyoming’s highest award for volunteerism, the Jefferson Award.

Sniffin and his wife are former owners of newspapers in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota and Hawaii. The Sniffins have raised four children and have ten grandchildren. Most recently, they sold an advertising agency they founded called Wyoming Inc. and also sold, along with daughter Shelli Johnson, an internet tourism company,

Bill is the former chairman of the Wyoming Travel Commission, vice-chairman of the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission and has also been a member of the Wyoming P16 Education Commission. Sniffin ran for governor in 2002, losing in the Republican primary. He is on the board of directors of the Mountain West AAA Auto Club, for Alaska, Montana and Wyoming and the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition.

More information can be found at the web site  One can also mail a request for the book to Box 900, Lander, WY 82520.  His Facebook page is “Wyoming books, columns by Bill Sniffin.”

Liberty Lausterer: Hitch Your Wagon to the Stars

visit our website & read the new Sprinter 2014 issue!

Our guest blogger, Liberty Lausterer, is back with another introspective look at our square state. Liberty moved to Wyoming within this past year, and offers us her perspective at life in the Cowboy State from a new resident’s eyes.



Here’s a scary thought. According to Tyler Nordgren, author of Stars Above, Earth Below: Astronomy in the National Parks, 50% of children born this year will never see the Milky Way. I’m no astronomer, but I’d say that’s pretty tragic news.

At a recent talk Nordgren gave at UW, he shared how light pollution is quickly turning the night sky into a rare commodity. We have now entered the era in which families across the U.S. will have to pack their kiddos into a car and drive a lengthy distance to a national park (spending lots of money on gas and lodging and drive-through meals), all so their kids can see the stars. And in some cases (such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park) not even the parks are immune to the devastating effects of light pollution.

The good news is we in Wyoming don’t have many city lights. It’s one of the many things I love about living in a sparsely populated state! But what our children, and our children’s children, will see in the coming generations depends a lot on the choices we make today. From the lights we install in our yards to light up our walkways, to the street lights we approve as communities, the fate of Wyoming’s night sky rests in our hands.

image by Tyler Nordgren

John Muir, the naturalist, said “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” My husband and I have stopped turning the front porch light on when we leave for the evening. I guess you could say it’s our small act of gratitude for the gift of this incredible Wyoming sky we share. So hitch your wagon to the stars!



NEWS FROM THE PARKS: Report on Grizzlies in Yellowstone Ecosystem

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BOZEMAN – Managers from the state, tribal, and federal agencies responsible for recovery of the grizzly bear in the Yellowstone Ecosystem heard good news at their recent meeting in Bozeman, Montana.  Despite being a poor cone production year for the already beleaguered whitebark pine trees (WBP), managers heard reports of surprisingly few conflicts between humans and grizzly bears, even though a record count of 58 unduplicated females with cubs were observed in the ecosystem this year.  Especially promising was that a female with cub was documented in each of the 18 bear management units used to keep track of the bear population.

In addition to reports of minimal conflicts from all of the states and national parks, managers also heard a report on the annual population status from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST).  Utilizing existing statistical  methods the population estimate for the Yellowstone Ecosystem in 2013 is 629.

Because grizzly bears have yet to enter their dens for hibernation, all of the information presented regarding conflicts was labeled as “Draft,” but current data shows 25 known grizzly mortalities recorded so far, which represents less than half the mortalities in 2012.

The IGBST also presented a synthesis of information on the effects of changes in bear foods on the health of the Yellowstone grizzly population. The IGBST had been tasked in the spring of 2012 to do this work so the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee (YES) managers would have the best available information on which to make a recommendation to the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) on whether a new proposed delisting rule should be prepared or not. According to van Manen, “Our extensive analysis of existing research and monitoring has shown us that grizzly bears are resilient and resourceful in the face of changing food resources.”  Additionally he said, “Our findings indicate that the decline in WBP due mostly to mountain pine beetles is not a major threat to the future of  the Yellowstone grizzly bear population. Data show the observed slowing of population growth since 2002 is  a result of  increased grizzly bear population density and resulting declines in subadult survival.”

The food synthesis research was presented to the YES members who then voted to conditionally support the findings, pending completion of a final section of the report and having all the research peer reviewed and published in professional journals.  The IGBST will be presenting the same information to the IGBC at their December meeting in Missoula, Montana. Both the YES and the IGBC will make recommendations of the USFWS, the agency responsible for deciding on whether a new proposed rule proposing to again delist Yellowstone bears would be developed and published for public comment.  USFWS will likely make a final decision in late December or early January on whether to produce a new proposed rule or not.

According to Recovery Coordinator Chris Servheen, “If delisting were to occur it wouldn’t be until later in 2014.” Careful monitoring and management would continue if delisting were to occur.  According to van Manen, “Our team will continue to monitor how grizzly bears respond over time and keep a close eye on the thresholds established to ensure a sustainable population.”

To learn more about grizzly bear recovery visit: To view reports by the IGBST regarding the Yellowstone grizzly bear population visit:

ART IN WY: Karen McLain, Sage Community Art Center & More

artists Jamie Barron & Sonja Caywood

SHERIDAN:  Sagebrush Community Art Center Presents “East Meets West in Wyoming”

Sagebrush Art Center hosts “East Meets West in Wyoming,” paintings by Sonja Caywood & Jamie Barron.  This show features a common theme in two artistic styles:  

Jamie Barron, born in North Dakota, currently resides in New York City, where she earned her MFA in Fine Art.  Barron says of her work: “I like to engage the viewer by using familiar iconography from everyday life experiences such as barns, cows and horses but changing them just so subtle to make one stop and look.  Sometimes using glitter or glazes to create an ethereal image. I find one can easily transplant his or herself into my paintings and remember, dream or reflect. “

Jamie Barron, “Blue Moon Beauties”

Sonja Caywood was born in Sheridan and attended Sheridan College.  Caywood explains: “Raised in a ranching family, I deeply value the land and the livestock of the Bighorn Mountain region.  It’s essential for me to record this vestige of ‘the west,’ as subjects once thought to be permanent fixtures of our landscape disappear.  I strive to express my affection for my subjects in painterly strokes of color with an emphasis on light.”
































Sonja Caywood, “Golden Opportunity”

The exhibition runs October 11th- November 16th at the Sagebrush Art Center (located in the Historic Train Depot, 201 E. 5th St. in Sheridan). An Opening Reception and artists’ talk was held on October 11. This project is supported in part by a grant from the Wyoming Arts Council, through funding from the Wyoming State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Karen McLain, “Freedom on Top of Mountain”

KAREN MCLAIN:  Capturing the Beauty of Wyoming’s Wild Horses

We appreciate Arizona artist Karen McLain sharing her love of Wyoming and its wild horses with us – she has tireless captured our state and its wildlife in paint and the result is exquisite. The following is a description from Karen of her most recent trek through Wyoming…

This was the fifth summer that I have gone to visit the wild horse ranges, but the first year that I made it to Wyoming. The trip included stops at the Little Book Cliffs, Sand Wash Basin, McCullough Peaks and Pryor Mountain areas.  The beauty of Wyoming was very inspiring and the horses were ones that I wanted to visit for many years. I traveled with my 1972 Shasta trailer, “The Paint Box” and stayed out on the ranges. (Although some areas required truck and tent camping), I had a very comfortable month-long painting adventure.

The McCullough Peaks horses were rugged and handsome, a  classic wild horse. Even tough it was windy, I did get some paintings done while I was there. The range is easy to access and the location as the gateway to Yellowstone is easy for visitors to be able to get to on a day trip.  After spending three nights at McCullough Peaks, I headed up to the Pryor range.  The beauty just blew me away. The open meadows, Tea Cup  and Mystic Waterhole  areas allowed for wonderful photo and video opportunities. It was a real treat to spend time with Cloud and his band. I know I will be back next year.


“McCullough Peaks Paint”

“Fishing Yellowstone”

On the way home to Arizona, I spent a few days in Yellowstone. While I was there, I was able to get two buffalo paintings done, even though I had to move three times while working on one of them. The buffalo clearly had someplace to go!

Wyoming is a painter’s paradise, and I look forward to my next visit!

“Stallion Bunch”

“Wild Rainbow”

Thundered Into Our Hearts”

“When They Got to the Top”






Hunting Prep, Laramie Main Street News, Art in Sheridan…

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image from National Elk Refuge website

Wildlife managers are preparing for two upcoming hunting seasons on the National Elk Refuge. Hunting programs on the Refuge are used as a management tool to achieve optimum herd size as determined through a cooperative effort between the National Elk Refuge, Grand Teton National Park, and Wyoming Game & Fish Department managers.

The 2013 bison hunting season on the National Elk Refuge will begin on August 15 and run through January 12, 2014. Bison hunting licenses are issued by the Wyoming Game & Fish Department. A Refuge–specific bison permit is required and is provided with the State license. Individuals who have not already applied and been selected for the 2013 season are not eligible to hunt bison this season.

The Refuge bison hunting season will be comprised of 12 hunt periods of varying length, with a number of week-long breaks of non-disturbance incorporated into the season. This is intended to increase the success rate for hunters since bison, along with other animals, may learn to avoid an area with continued hunting pressure. Wildlife managers are using the hunt period structure as a tool to achieve herd objectives.

The 2013 Refuge elk hunting season will run from October 12 through December 15 and will consist of 10 consecutive hunt periods. Persons interested in hunting elk may begin applying for Refuge–specific permits beginning Wednesday, August 14. Applications for elk permits must be submitted electronically by September 25 to be entered into a computerized random draw. The results of the drawing will be posted on the application web site by September 26. 

Application for National Elk Refuge elk hunting permits is done in cooperation with the Wyoming Game & Fish Private Lands Public Wildlife Access program. Hunters may initially apply for only one hunt period per hunt unit and must already have a valid Wyoming elk license to enter the electronic drawing. Elk hunters attempting to fill two valid licenses on the Refuge during the same hunt period do not need to apply for two Refuge permits. 

Bison and elk hunting information, including general information, application procedures, regulations, maps, weapons restrictions, and access can be found on the National Elk Refuge’s web page at Printed copies of Refuge regulations can be picked up in Jackson at the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center (532 N. Cache Street), Wyoming Game & Fish Department (420 N. Cache Street), or the National Elk Refuge Administrative Offices (625 E. Broadway Avenue). Printable versions (PDF) of the regulations and maps are available on the web site. 

Persons traveling on Refuge roads, including Curtis Canyon and Flat Creek roads, are encouraged to familiarize themselves with hunt boundaries and be aware that hunters may be in the area.


Mural by Travis Ivey 

Thanks to over 160 backers, Laramie Main Street reached their fundraising goal for the Laramie Mural Project before their deadline of July 21st and then, the donations kept coming in! When all was said and done, they raised just short of $20,000!!!

mural plan, by Travis Ivey

They have already begun to use those donations to expand the Laramie Mural Project. Check out the new murals going up downtown at 3rd and Kearney, behind the Big Dipper at 111 Ivinson and in the alley behind the Curiosity Shoppe. 

Be sure to mark your calendar for an event like you’ve never seen in downtown Laramie! Move in Weekend, Aug. 23 – 25 they will be hosting the Downtown Mash Up featuring the Gem City Car Classic and Laramie Fiber Arts Festival. This is a joint event between the University of Wyoming Athletic Dept., Laramie Main Street, DLBA and the fiber art galleries downtown.

Ever wondered what was above your favorite downtown businesses? Now is your chance to find out! Join Laramie Main Street on Friday, August 16 from 3 to 7 p.m. for a self-guided tour of the lofts and apartments downtown. Everything from cozy one bedroom units to expansive family lofts.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 the day of and can be purchased with cash, check or credit card from the Main Street office at 207 Grand Ave. or by calling 307-760-3355.

The Upstairs/Downtown tour is designed to promote residential space and living in the historic district as well as raise funds for the Laramie Main Street Alliance.


Stop by the Roundhouse Festival this weekend in Evanston at the Roundhouse to purchase your 2013 HO collectors car. These will be available at the this weekends Roundhouse Festival. This year’s car commemorates the Lincoln Highway’s 100th anniversary!

SHERIDAN — SAGE Community Art Center Welcomes New Exhibits; Sheridan’s DDA Plans 3rd Thursday Fest for August

The next 3rd Thursday Festival will be held August 15! Join in for all the fun, food and music!

Check out the next round of great art exhibits at SAGE Community Art Center!



MADE IN WY: Bunnery Natural Foods by The Bunnery Restaurant & Bakery


OUR SISTER PUBLICATIONS:  Wyoming Weddings Wyovore WYO  XY The Wyoming Woman

We are thrilled to team with the Wyoming Business Council to feature a Wyoming First business every week on our blog! Wyoming First is a program that promotes Wyoming member businesses. Visit their website (click here) to learn more about this service — and if you are a Wyoming business who’s not a member, be sure to inquire about membership! There are many benefits! 

This week we are featuring Bunnery Natural Foods from The Bunnery Restaurant & Bakery in Jackson, WY

Tony Labbe Bunnery Natural Foods  130 N. Cache Street  Jackson, WY 83001  855-472-6652 (855-GRANOLA) / 307-733-5474

After years working in the wine and spirits importing business, Gerard Yvernault and his family were captivated by Jackson Hole after several winter vacations there.  In 1989 the Yvernault family purchased The Bunnery and Gerard put his management degree to use in this new enterprise.  The Bunnery had started as a way to provide wholesome, nutritious foods to meet the demands of outdoor sportsmen visiting the Yellowstone National Park  & Grand Teton National Park area.





Since the Yvernault family has taken over The Bunnery, it has expanded from the original bakery and restaurant to include a natural foods business.  Bunnery Natural Foods granola blends and trademarked oats-sunflower seed-millet (O.S.M) products are made from original recipes that have remained largely unchanged since the bakery’s beginnings. They carry 6 packaged products that are made from ingredients from local Wyoming producers, whenever possible. 
























































The goal is to create products that provide maximum nutrients from minimally processed ingredients and never contain preservatives or artificial sweeteners. 

These products can be purchased in the store in Jackson, at Farmer’s Markets throughout the summer, or online at or for a purchase price ranging from $5.49 to $6.49.




OUR SISTER PUBLICATIONS:  Wyoming Weddings Wyovore WYO  XY The Wyoming Woman