Guest Post by 2013 NWF Fellow, Evan Reimondo

Last spring, I was honored to be designated a 2013 Emerging Leader Fellow by the National Wildlife Federation. I don’t know whether they realized just how overly-ambitious my project proposal was at the time, but I think that they saw the intent behind the writing, and I’m truly grateful for what their support is empowering me to do. Portraits of the Real Wyoming is my small contribution toward making Wyoming a better place for its inhabitants (human and otherwise). Don’t get me wrong, I think it is an amazing place to be- I wouldn’t be living here if I didn’t truly feel this way.

But there is always room for improvement. I believe that the health of people, economies, and natural environments are intrinsically linked. There is a fine and intricate balance, and disproportionate changes if one inevitably detracts from the others. I believe that Wyoming has yet to find that perfect balance, and to generalize just a little bit, often supports short-term economic gains by extractive industries like coal, oil, and gas development to the detriment of the health of its people and natural environments. pillars The intent of this project is to share the stories and experiences of real Wyoming citizens- people whose livelihoods and lifestyles depend directly on the land, water, and wildlife of Wyoming- as they relate to their perceived effects of the industry and economic boom on their own lives. I’m not trying to tell people how to live their lives, nor do I profess to have all the answers, but I do know that there is room to improve. I think there is a better balance to strike, one that will be better in the long term for our people, communities, and for our spectacular, irreplaceable natural inheritances of the land, water, and open spaces of Wyoming. That is my opinion. I hope that you will read the stories to follow and form your own opinions.

I think that the first Portrait, “Sportsman, Wildlife Biologist,”  demonstrates just how important it is to tell the stories of people with real connections to the issues in Wyoming. I thought I knew who I was meeting in a long-time Game and Fish biologist, but I quickly realized I was talking to someone with a much more complicated and important story. Someone who played a key role not only in conserving a vast tract of critical wildlife habitat, but who was a major figure in a decade-long, nationally-prominent wildlife conflict that may still be affecting the nature and character of such conflicts today.

Pronghorn Antelope on the prairie of Wyoming’s Red Rim Wildlife Management Area (Photo Credit Evan Reimondo)
Pronghorn Antelope on the prairie of Wyoming’s Red Rim Wildlife Management Area (Photo Credit Evan Reimondo)
My goal here is to share “portraits” of interesting people, and maybe inspire a few folks to reflect on the issues and how their own values and beliefs might be affected. If you appreciate the content, please do share it with friends or as widely as you like. Please leave a comment below to share your own thoughts – I’d love to hear them!

This project is funded by a National Wildlife Federation 2013 Emerging Leader Fellowship. Their generous support and mentorship enabled me to undertake this project, but it is my hope to continue- and to grow- this work into the future. I am currently working to establish my own conservation nonprofit, called the Forever West Alliance, with the goals of telling more of these important stories, and engaging impassioned youth leaders in important public lands conservation issues through a new, innovative internship program. I hope you will join me in appreciating the stories of some very real and wonderful people!

Evan Reimondo

Evan originally hails from small town in New York, but now calls Lander, WY his home.  With a B.S. in Biology, an M.S. in Environmental Sciences and Policy, and diverse experiences working in conservation with land management agencies and NGOs, Evan is taking initiative to grow the environmental movement in Wyoming through his new organization, Forever West Alliance. He draws his inspiration from the dramatic landscapes and tight-knit communities of the West- where the adversity of life seems to make its inhabitants stronger, if not a bit more stubborn.