Connecting Conservation and Community

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1 1 Executive Summary: Jackson Hole Land Trust Community Assessment with Flitner Strategies Connecting Conservation and Community Background & History: Six years ago, the Jackson Hole Land Trust (JHLT) partnered with Flitner Strategies (FS) on a market research effort that was designed to gauge awareness of the Jackson Hole Land Trust and its work in the community. FS collected feedback about JHLT through in-person surveys from visitors and residents of Jackson, asking questions such as: can you name a conservation organization in Jackson?, how important is open space in Jackson? and can you name a property conserved by the Jackson Hole Land Trust? Survey answers told us that open space was important to the community, that people knew of and thought positively of JHLT, but there was a demonstrated lack of awareness of what JHLT actually did and which properties in JH had been protected by JHLT. From this feedback, the Forever Our Valley campaign was launched- a dedicated communications and outreach strategic plan implemented and executed by JHLT designed to raise awareness of our work and educate the community about easement-protected properties. Now, five years after JHLT embarked on a robust outreach program and recognizing that a lot has changed in the valley, JHLT wanted to measure how effective the Forever Our Valley campaign has been and also felt the necessity to groundtruth the changing priorities of the community and determine where the Land Trust can fit into those priorities. Methodology: Our 2016 Community Assessment took a two-pronged approach. We held nine stakeholder group discussions which averaged about 7 people attending each group. Attendees for these groups included community leaders, landowners, non-profit professionals, young native Jacksonites, JHLT supporters, and other local constituency groups. We used these discussions to learn about how the Land Trust is being perceived among all facets of the community, as well as what the current community priorities are, and where the community thinks the Land Trust should be focusing our efforts among those priorities. We also conducted an online survey which about 180 people answered. The online survey was aimed at learning more about what the conservation priorities are of the community and measuring the community awareness level of the Land Trust. Lessons Learned: The data collected from the stakeholder groups and the online survey gave us excellent quantitative and qualitative information to work with. The online survey gave us concrete numbers about how far we have moved the needle regarding the community s awareness and education about land conservation and the Jackson Hole Land Trust. Both the stakeholder groups and the survey provided valuable insight to the community priorities and where conservation stands among those priorities, as well as into perceptions about JHLT and our internal stewardship and protection practices. Conservation Awareness and Priorities When asked if they could name a property that the JHLT has protected, 60% of survey participants in 2011 could name a JHLT-protected property while in 2016, even with a larger, broader audience, 73% of participants could name a property a JHLT-protected property (see Figure 1.1 below):

2 2 Executive Summary: Jackson Hole Land Trust Community Assessment with Flitner Strategies Figure vs Conservation Awareness in Jackson Hole 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% 86% 95% Can you name a conservation organization in Jackson? 60% Can you name a JHLT protected property? 73% Additionally, our 2016 survey results indicated an increase in the awareness of different protected properties and a wider variety of JHLT protected-properties being identified by name. In 2011, 37% of survey respondents names Walton Ranch as the JHLT-protected property they knew about while in 2016, only 23% name Walton Ranch. In 2016 properties like the Mead Ranch, Spring Gulch, Hardeman Barns, and R Park were named frequently by participants as JHLT protected properties (see Figure 1.2 below). Figure

3 3 Executive Summary: Jackson Hole Land Trust Community Assessment with Flitner Strategies Across all nine focus groups and almost 200 survey respondents, almost everyone felt that the Land Trust s work is important to the community. When asked to describe what we do in one sentence, the most popular words/concepts were: Land, open, wildlife, space, nature, protect, preserve, and Jackson (see Figure 1.3 below) Figure 1.3 Survey respondents also felt our conservation work was still relevant. When asked to rank a series of seven community priorities from most important to least important, open space topped the list with 44% of respondents saying open space is their number one community priority. Open space ranked even above housing, which 28% of respondents chose as their number one priority (see Figure 1.4 below). Figure 1.4

4 4 Executive Summary: Jackson Hole Land Trust Community Assessment with Flitner Strategies When asked to rank the mission areas of the Land Trust in importance to them, 54% of survey respondents said that conserving wildlife habitat and migration corridors was most important, 18% said that scenic landscape projects were most important, 15% said protecting public access and recreation land was most important, and 13% said that agriculture and ranching was their conservation priority (see Figure 1.5 below) Figure 1.5. Community Priorities and Concerns We are thrilled to see that the Land Trust is still seen as positive and important in Jackson Hole; however, we heard from our data that priorities are shifting and we recognize the need to work to maintain our connection to the community as things like housing, education, and health come to the forefront of community concerns.

5 5 Executive Summary: Jackson Hole Land Trust Community Assessment with Flitner Strategies Conservation is complex, especially with the backdrop of the changing landscape of our community, but our goal is to keep open spaces relevant by making sure that we are considering our community s current challenges top of mind when identifying and moving forward with new protection projects We have learned that community education is not only important, but also valued, and people want to learn more about us and understand how our work fits into the bigger picture. Projects that engage the community on a more hands-on, tangible level such as View22, the green JHLT flags temporarily placed on conservation properties throughout the valley, FoundSpace, and our young professionals events will continue and be expanded on to educate and attract not only more people, but different people than our traditional constituent base. The importance of partnerships has also been voiced by community members and JHLT plans to continue working with other non-profits to extend the relationship and benefits of land and open space to other areas like art, health, and recreation. We want to make sure that conservation is valued by everyone and valuable to everyone and we are excited to work on spreading that message by being more engaged with the community. Moving forward, our goal is to continue to increase our connection to the community and to bring forward completed and potential projects that we know add quality to the lives of the residents of Jackson Stewardship We focus a lot on new projects, and exciting programs, but stewardship of existing easements is really what makes our open spaces thrive, and is a top priority of our organization. As community priorities have changed, we ve seen increased and complex challenges with stewardship practices and we have learned from our community outreach that stewardship is an area that needs more internal attention and intention. Among landowners, community members, and JHLT supporters there are vast differences of opinion regarding the right and wrong way to successfully steward our conservation easement protected properties. These mixed, but strong, messages have alerted us to the fact that we need to do an internal audit of our stewardship practices and consider making changes to ensure we are doing what is best for the land, the landowners, and the reputation of easements not just in Jackson, but regionally and nation-wide. Moving Forward and Next Steps: The board and staff of the Jackson Hole Land Trust will be taking part of a strategic planning session this fall. We will digest and incorporate the lessons learned from our community assessment into this planning. Our goal is to focus on conversations with community members, collaborate with partners, and strengthen the connection to conservation among Jackson s residents. We want to be a part of the dialogue in the community and will leverage what we hear from these conversations into relevant and supported land protection initiatives. JHLT plans to take a hard look at existing stewardship practices and identify areas for improvement or change that will lead to strengthening our relationship with landowners and educating community members about the importance of stewarding Jackson s open spaces. Stewardship isn t just an internal practice or philosophy here at the Land Trust. Stewardship is part of the community s connection to the land and their emphasis on the importance of open space. When the community supports the conservation values on easement properties, it makes it easier for the Land Trust to do our job of protecting the land. The strength of an easement is only as strong as the community s connection to the land. We will not change the work we do- we are committed to protecting and stewarding important conservation lands in Jackson- but we will strategically change the way that we re communicating, educating, and engaging with the community in order to maintain relevance and make Jackson a better place to live for everyone.

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