Brad Mead—a fourth-generation Jackson Hole cattle rancher, attorney, and the founder and CEO of Wyoming Whiskey—will introduce Lucas St. Clair, the founder of Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, on Friday, November 3, at The People’s Banquet.
As part of his introduction, Mead will tell the story of the Jackson Hole National Monument, a 221,000-acre parcel comprised of mostly national forest land that was designated—over strong local protest—by President Rockefeller in 1943.
Mead’s grandfather, former U.S. Senator and Wyoming Governor Clifford Hansen, was one of the strongest opponents of the designation. Over time, Hansen came to see the value of protecting the Jackson Hole valley, and became a proponent of what was eventually to become Grand Teton National Park as we know it today.
According to the Jackson Hole Historical Society, in 1945, Harold Ickes, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, suggested that the Jackson Hole National Monument be transferred to the government. Park opponents eventually began to acknowledge the benefits associated with an expanded park, and as park expansion became a more favorable and likely action, on September 14, 1950, the national monument was merged with the 1929 Grand Teton National Park, increasing the size of the park to 298,000 acres.
In a conversation with Mead and St. Clair last week, both men acknowledged the parallels between the creation of the national monuments in their respective states. As with the Jackson Hole National Monument, in Maine, initial local resistance to Katahdin Woods and Waters has turned to enthusiasm as the economic benefits of the designation have become apparent.
Brad is the older brother of Wyoming’s current governor, Matt Mead, who last year opened SHIFT with an announcement regarding the creation of an Outdoor Recreation Task Force. This year, Governor Mead’s Senior Policy Advisor, Nephi Cole, will make a follow-up announcement on the Task Force’s recommendations.
More than 100 years ago, the Meads’ great grandfather homesteaded in Jackson Hole, knowing that he wanted to raise his family on a Wyoming ranch. Five generations later, Brad and his wife Kate still live on that ranch homestead, ranching and raising cattle in a sustainable way. In 2002, the family placed the ranch headquarters under conservation easement, ensuring that its pristine water, native pastures, and spectacular scenery would be protected forever.
Beef from the Mead Ranch will be included in the People’s Banquet following St. Clair’s presentation. Tickets to the event are available here.