America is truly blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, and in my opinion there are few if any places in our country more beautiful than the Upper Hoback Valley in northwestern Wyoming, where I spend as much time as I can at the Jackson Fork Ranch. But while these natural wonders may be gifts from God, it is up to us to preserve and protect them. And these days, with government budgets stretched to the breaking point, it is more than ever up to the private sector – both private corporations and individual citizens – to provide the financial resources it takes to get the job done.
I recently had the honor of hosting a lunch at Jackson Fork Ranch to celebrate a perfect example of how this sort of thing can get done. Working with a coalition of conservation groups, the Trust for Public Land and a group of private citizens got together to raise $8.75 million to buy up oil and gas leases on some 58,000 acres of pristine land in the Hoback Basin – thus protecting this spectacular wilderness forever. What I found most gratifying about this effort was the number of private citizens – more than 1,000 in all – who pitched in to make the campaign successful. As I told the group that gathered at Jackson Fork Ranch last week, I’m proud to have been able to play a role in helping to preserve this magnificent landscape for future generations. (You can learn more about the successful campaign here, and you can see a video of the event below.) The outpouring of support for this project was inspiring and demonstrates how much the people of Wyoming value the outdoors and how hard we’ll work to protect our natural resources.