Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve - Countdown: 3 Days

August 22, 2012 Posted by: KG

After the large and generous donation of 35,000 acres of land to enlarge and establish Grand Teton National Park, the Rockefeller family continued to hold onto a small piece of the Tetons for themselves, the JY Ranch. It had always been the intension of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to complete the gift to the Park by eventually donating this piece of land.

The final gift of the JY Ranch was not completed until the next generation, when Mr. Rockefeller's son, Laurance S. Rockefeller, made the donation late in his life. Laurance was modest and understated in his philanthropic activities as was his father, and nearly as extensive in his accomplishments. Laurance believed that natural places were of great spiritual value. He also believed in the dual mission of the Park Service, to provide for both enjoyment and preservation.

Lake Creek and Bridge on the Preserve (NPS Photo)
Lake Creek Bridge on the Preserve
NPS Photo

In 2001 Laurance gave physical shape to his spiritual values when he announced the creation of the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve on what would soon be the former JY Ranch. The guiding document establishing the LSR Preserve states that it "will become a place of physical and spiritual renewal, and to serve as a model for achieving balance between preservation of natural values and public use and to demonstrate that our citizens working in partnership with their government can achieve important goals. The Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve is intended to inspire appreciation and reverence for the beauty and diversity of the natural work, to demonstrate the importance of protecting the land while providing public access and to foster individual responsibility for conservation stewardship." [1]

Over the course of the next few years, the historic JY buildings were moved off the property, roads and power lines were removed, and the natural landscape was renewed.

Relocating the JY Main Lodge (NPS Photo)
Relocating the JY Main Lodge
NPS Photo

The first U.S. Green Building Council Platinum LEED Certified Building ever in the Park Service was built for the Preserve Visitor Center, complete with composting toilets! Inside, Laurance himself helped design the exhibits which guide visitors through a sensory and spiritual nature experience.

Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Visitor Center (NPS Photo)
Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Visitor Center
NPS Photo

Most striking for many visitors is the limited parking at the Preserve. It was Laurance's intent to allow for visitor use, but to limit that use for the protection and conservation of the resource. With this in mind, parking at the Preserve is limited to approximately fifty cars so as not to overuse trails and other natural resources on the Preserve. Visitors may initially find this a frustrating hurdle. However, once they are parked and on the trails, the quiet and serene nature of the Preserve is overwhelmingly worth the wait in the parking lot. Visitors can also enjoy the preserve by joining many of the Ranger Programs offered throughout the summer season.

Ranger Programs on the Preserve (NPS Photo)
Explore the Preserve with a Ranger
NPS Photo

Unfortunately, Laurance Rockefeller passed away before the inauguration of the LSR Preserve in 2007. His involvement and his vision for the Preserve continue to guide this special place even today. At the inauguration of the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, Larry Rockefeller, son of Laurance, expressed his love of this place as well. "For 70 years JY Ranch has been a special source of inspiration for the family, as it will be for future visitors, a gift, really from all of us consistent with my grandfather's vision in creating the surrounding national park."


Sources: Reserved Conservation Easement Establishing the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, October 15, 2007. Jackson Hole Preserve, Incorporated.

Last updated: August 22, 2012

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