U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Sept 16, 2022
Media Contacts: Raena Parsons
The National Elk Refuge is working with our partners, including the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, Grand Teton Association, U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service, to reimagine its visitor services role in the valley and refocus the operations of the existing Visitor Center to better meet the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Wildlife Refuge System. Since the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center (JHGYVC) opened it has been an evolving and ever-changing facility. The Refuge is looking to the future and working to provide the best Refuge experience to our visitors and the community of Jackson. A first step in this process is updating signage and partnership branding which will help refocus the mission of the visitor center and better help visitors synthesize their Refuge experience. Our partners in the visitor center are a critical component of our visitor services role in the valley and will continue to promote their roles as well as continuing to assist with emphasizing the National Elk Refuge and conservation efforts in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Along with updating signage, the Refuge and its partners will be painting, updating exhibits, fixing carpeting, and rearranging the layout of the first floor this fall. To accommodate these updates, the Visitor Center will be closed October 1-24, 2022. When it reopens at the end of the October, the Visitor Center will be open 5 days per week through the end of November, Tuesday-Saturday due to staffing constraints.
Reimagining the Refuges role in the visitor center is the first step towards our goal of creating an enhanced Refuge experience for visitors and the local community. The Refuge received Great American Outdoors Act funding for a new facility in 2025. With the construction and design of that new facility, we will be morphing the role of the facility to be a nature center. The National Elk Refuge and Greater Yellowstone Nature Center will focus on providing authentic experiences that are driven by community values. The focus of a nature center is environmental education, stewardship, and immersive nature experiences. Nature centers serve visitors and community members by being a gateway for nature discovery. The National Elk Refuge and Greater Yellowstone Nature Center will be a unique facility in Jackson Hole and will more effectively meet visitor’s needs and the conservation education needs of the
community. Moving forward, our partners, including the Chamber of Commerce, Grand Teton Association, U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service will continue to play a valuable role in the nature center.
The Service’s goal is to create a welcoming space where new audiences can be introduced to the Refuge, to opportunities the Refuge provides for wildlife-dependent recreation, the broader conservation goals of the National Wildlife Refuge System and conservation of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
The completely redesigned facility, which will include indoor and outdoor components, will enable the Service to reach a more diverse audience, both within the local community and among the millions of national and international visitors to the Jackson Hole area each year. The replacement Nature Center will be a stepping-stone to broader engagement with visitors. It will physically and symbolically serve as the front door of the National Elk Refuge as a National Wildlife Refuge System destination within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.