Tom Bell has dedicated his life to the conservation of wildlife and wild lands. His induction into the Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame recognizes a full lifetime of achievement.


Tom was raised on a small ranch near Lander and attended one-room schools through the 8th grade. He graduated from Fremont County High School in 1941 where he was president of the student body. With the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted in the U.S.  Army Air Force and was assigned to the 455th Bombardier Group in Italy. In May of 1944, he lost his right eye to German flak but completed the combat mission he was on despite his injuries. At age 20, he was a 1st Lieutenant with a Silver Star, Purple Heart, and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters. Following the war, he returned to the University of Wyoming where he majored in wildlife management, reactivated the Rodeo Club, found the Ski Club, and served as student body president, earning a bachelor's degree in 1948.


After graduating, Tom ran a sawmill and later worked at a trout hatchery. Having married, he worked for a time in the oil and gas industry and then returned to the University of Wyoming to complete a master’s degree in zoology. He also received the first Aven Nelson Fellowship in Botany and conducted research for the Rocky Mountain Herbarium.


After teaching junior high science in Lander, he worked for the  Wyoming Game and Fish Department as a  bi­ologist and habitat manager. He was appointed manager of the Ocean Lake Game Management Unit in 1957. Elected president of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation in 1965, he was instrumental in revealing thousands of miles of illegal fences on public lands. He also founded the Wyoming Outdoor Council in an effort to foster cooperation between outdoor interests.Tom Bell founded High Country News in 1970, feeling the public needed to be educated as to what was happening to our land, water, air and wildlife. The paper is still in existence, with a circulation of over 20,000.


In recognition of his many achievements, Tom Bell received the Shikar-Safari International Award for Wyoming Conservationist of the Year in 1970, the American Motors Conservation Award for 1973, and the National Wildlife Federation's J.N. "Ding" Darling Conservationist of the Year Award in 2001.

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