Celebrating Yellowstone | AspenTimes.com

Celebrating Yellowstone

May Eynon

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) was founded in 1983 by a group of activists concerned about fragmentation of wilderness around Yellowstone National Park. Over the past 22 years, GYC has been successful in protecting the land, wildlife and waters of the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, and in finding innovative conservation solutions. GYC’s goal to ensure the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem remains intact for future generations. Membership of GYC has grown to over 14,000, with an extensive Colorado donor base accounting for much of their fund-raising success. Their main office is in Bozeman, Mo., with field offices in Idaho Falls, Id., and Cody, Wyo.

Saturday, March 19, was an unofficial GYC day on Aspen Mountain, beginning with a picnic at the base of Buckhorn around noon. It ended with dinner at the Sundeck. The second annual dinner, sponsored by Pravda Vodka, Davidoff Cigars & Cognac, Swiss Air, Forbes, Fiji Water and others, nearly doubled in size from last year. Sam Russell of Davidoff Cigars said they hope to expand the event in coming years from a one-day affair into a weekend-long series of activities.Guests departed from the base on a “champagne flight” in the gondola for a Fire and Ice cocktail reception followed by an Elk Mountain gala dinner prepared by Relais & Chateax chef John King. Afterward, cigars and snifters of Cognac were enjoyed by the fire.Many local conservationists were in attendance including the “Maroon Belles” of the Wilderness Workshop – Connie Harvey, Dottie Fox, and Joy Caudill.The three Grande dames of local environmentalism are supportive of GYC’s goals. “This organization is doing all the right things protecting critical habitat,” said Harvey. “The Yellowstone area is one huge ecosystem – one of the first,” added Fox. “If we don’t protect it, we’ll lose one of the most important things this nation has to offer.”

Co-host and part-time Aspen resident, Todd Figi, noted, “People often think about the park as being well defended by the government, however thousands of square miles around the park actually need further protection. GYC works with the federal government, looking out for the greatest need that supports them.”Todd’s sister, Sara Finkle of Aspen, and brother, Hans Figi Bozeman, joined him as hosts of the evening. Hans serves as director of patron relations for GYC. While guests feasted upon a three-course meal, a slideshow revealed the wonders of Yellowstone, featuring images of wildlife, geysers, rivers and more. Christopher Buckley, author and editor of Forbes FYI Magazine, was the keynote speaker for the evening.To learn more about GYC, visit http://www.greateryellowstone.orgTo contact May to send info, insights or invites, e-mail allthewaymaymay @hotmail.com

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