Skye Schell departs Conservation Alliance

Skye Schell has departed as the Executive Director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance.

Skye Schell, the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance’s executive director of about four years, is moving on.

“It’s a strong organization,” Schell said Friday, “and I’m able to leave with a clear conscience and know that all of the effort I put into it has created a strong foundation for the next executive director and whole team.”

The Conservation Alliance announced Schell’s departure in a Friday afternoon press release, capping his roughly seven-year tenure with the local advocacy group. He spent the last four or so of those years as executive director.

Both Schell and Alliance Board Chair Kirk Davenport said Schell’s departure was voluntary.

“Even good relationships come to a natural end and that’s what happened here,” Davenport told the Jackson Hole Daily. “He’s done a lot for the Alliance and the conservation cause in the valley and I’m quite confident that he’ll continue to do a lot of good for the conservation cause in the valley going forward.”

Schell said he’s leaving to start a private consulting business.

The specifics have yet to be ironed out but he’s hoping to work with policy, data, strategy and campaigns, using what he’s learned at the alliance on a larger scale, whether that’s statewide or nationwide.

“I’m also getting older and being somewhere for seven years is a long time,” Schell told the Daily.

He does, however, plan to stick around Jackson Hole.

In the past seven years, the Conservation Alliance has opposed Snow King Mountain Resort’s controversial expansion, and closely followed proposals for developing northern South Park, earlier opposing the Gill family’s request for a rezone and more recently calling for greater affordability in conceptual plans for developing the area. The Alliance has also partnered with the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation to lobby for a $10 million wildlife crossing specific purpose excise tax, or SPET, measure.

That passed in 2019, and funds are now slated to be spent on building wildlife crossings when the Wyoming Department of Transportation replaces the intersection of Highways 22 and 390 in the coming years.

“Getting $10 million for wildlife crossings is something I’ll be proud of for the rest of my life,” Schell said.

But he felt his biggest contribution was growing the Conservation Leadership Institute, the Alliance’s program that trains people to advocate for conservation issues in the local political ecosystem.

Schell said over 150 people have gone through the program.

“I’m super proud to see CLI graduates out in the community running their own campaigns, making change, moving up in the world,” he said. “That’s probably the biggest impact my time at the Alliance will have had.”

Davenport said the board’s process for choosing a new executive director will likely evolve. Dawn Webster, who has worked for the Alliance since 2014, will serve as the group’s interim executive director.

Davenport said the Alliance’s mission will not change, nor will the projects it is currently working on.

“The community needs a strong Alliance and we intend to give them that,” he said.

Contact Billy Arnold at 732-7063 or barnold@jhnewsandguide.com.

Teton County Reporter

Billy Arnold has covered government and policy since January 2020, sitting through hours of Teton County meetings so readers don't have to. He moonlights as a ski reporter, helps with pandemic coverage and sneaks away to climb when he can.

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(1) comment

Judd Grossman

The Alliance used to matter more. It used to stand in the breach and protect Jackson Hole from overdevelopment.

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