Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) protects large expanses of high elevation, mesic sagebrush-steppe grasslands that support many species of mammals and birds. These resources also connect similar habitat in a large portion of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
In the early 1900s, several thousand acres of sagebrush were cultivated for hay production prior to the establishment of this part of the park. In some areas, cultivation continued into the 1970’s, at which point the National Park Service acquired the remaining lands, agricultural use was phased out, and the hayfields were abandoned.
Since 2009, GTNP has been working to restore 4,500 acres of converted hay fields to their natural sagebrush conditions—conducting controlled experiments, initial restoration, and an adaptive management approach to achieve long-term, high quality ecological restoration goals. This project is a conservation objective that takes decades to fully achieve and is a partnership priority for GTNP together with Grand Teton National Park Foundation.
Grand Teton National Park Foundation
Grand Teton National Park
Teton Conservation District
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
US Fish and Wildlife Service
University of Wyoming
various individual donors
Nearly 1,500 acres of the Kelly Hayfields are considered to be in various stages of restoration. Project activities to date have demonstrated an executable and highly effective process for restoring these lands to productive, naturally-functioning and resilient sagebrush-grassland habitat.
As the project has progressed, so too has the park’s experimentation with different management techniques to yield better outcomes overall—including greater diversity of native plant species and higher quality habitat, which together are key to supporting wildlife and a balanced ecosystem.
The park implements a multi-year, multi-step process that includes the removal of nonnative hay crop, the collection and propagation of native seeds both on and off-site, several years of replanting fields with native species, and ongoing monitoring and treatment of invasive plants.
Areas in which early restoration has been completed offer a visual contrast to untreated areas, demonstrating increased floral and faunal diversity and supporting a higher quality visitor experience overall.
$406,500 annually, multi-year, ongoing