Valley Advocates for Responsible Development (more commonly know as VARD) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit citizens’ group working towards fair and predictable development that will benefit the entire community and future generations.
Historically, Teton Valley’s economy has been based on agriculture, but in the past 10 years it has experienced a dramatic shift to a real estate and recreation economy. The county population increased 142% from 1970 to 2000, and another 25% from 2000 to 2005, making Teton County, ID one of the fastest-growing counties in Idaho, which is one of the fastest-growing states in the nation.
This economic shift and growth have created land-use changes that threaten the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the area and challenge the efforts to sustain the rural character of local communities. A study commissioned by the Doris Duke Foundation and the GreaterYellowstone Coalition ranked Teton Valley number one of 43 “mega-sites” assessed for conservation priorities within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). This assessment was based on the unparalleled ecological resources of Teton Valley and their vulnerability to development.
Ironically, it is the valley’s unique natural resources and quality of life that are driving growth. Teton Valley encompasses approximately 450 square miles in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. It is bordered on three sides by mountains: the Teton Range to the east, the Big Hole Mountains to the west, and the Snake River Range to the south. The valley is rich with wildlife including fragile species such as grizzly bears, bald eagles, and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. The area is renowned for outdoor recreation such as great skiing, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and snowmobiling, to name a few.