CHEYENNE - This year’s inductees to Wyoming’s Outdoor Hall of Fame include a former Wyoming Game and Fish Department director; a University of Wyoming zoology professor and botanist from the late 1800s through early 1900s; a former U.S. Forest Service biologist and supervisor of the Shoshone National Forest; and two of Wyoming’s better known artists and authors who spent much time in the Wind River Range near Dubois. Public service, a love for the outdoors, and an appreciation of Wyoming’s wildlife are common themes for this year’s Hall of Fame class.
John Baughman – Having served most of his career with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Fish Division, John Baughman was named the agency’s director in 1996, a position he held for six years. He had previously served as reservoir research supervisor, fisheries management coordinator, assistant fisheries chief, and Game and Fish assistant director. Highlights of his leadership with Game and Fish include development of the Private Lands/Public Wildlife and AccessYes programs, and lifetime hunting and fishing licenses. Following his Wyoming Game and Fish career he served as executive vice president of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies during which he worked on the Farm Bill with nearly $1 billion in conservation programs, the Wallop-Breaux bill that reauthorized $110 million to state wildlife programs, and a transportation bill with funding to reduce wildlife/vehicle collisions. He also began development of a national fish habitat plan and national wildlife health initiative.
Aven Nelson (posthumously) – Aven Nelson’s contributions to Wyoming began in 1887 when he and his wife moved to Laramie so Nelson could join four other teachers as the first professors on the University of Wyoming campus. Among other duties, he served as professor of economic biology, zoology, and animal physiology. In 1891 he took a leave of absence and attended Harvard to complete a master’s degree. Upon his return to Wyoming in 1894, he spent several months collecting more than 1,200 botanical specimens and in 1899 convinced the University of Wyoming to establish the Rocky Mountain Herbarium. In 1904 he earned his doctorate from the University of Denver. In 1909 he published his “New Manual of the Botany of the Central Rocky Mountains” and in 1912 he published the “Spring Flora of the Rocky Mountain States.” Generations of land and wildlife managers benefited from his extensive knowledge of plant ecology and his work as an educator and author. His work paved the way for modern management of native ecosystems.
Stephen Mealey – Having spent most of his career with the U.S. Forest Service as a wildlife biologist and later as supervisor of the Shoshone National Forest, Steve Mealy successfully worked to alleviate overgrazing issues in parts of the forest. This work proved to be significant for the health of the land as well as providing critical wildlife habitat. He accomplished this by creating a positive coalition between the U.S. Forest Service, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and ranch managers and owners of private lands. As forest supervisor, he worked with Game and Fish to set wildlife population objectives that facilitated multiple land uses in accordance with objectives. This allowed the agency to better determine how much habitat was available to sustain various wildlife species and provided for equilibrium between wildlife, livestock, and other multiple-use interests.
Joe and Mary Back (posthumously) – Joe Back spent a good portion of his life as a cowboy. After owning and managing several dude ranches in Wyoming, Joe and his wife, Mary, put down roots in Dubois in 1935. They purchased the dilapidated Lava Creek Ranch, which they operated as a dude ranch for four years. In 1939 they sold the Lava Creek Ranch to purchase the larger Rocker Y Ranch. However, managing ranches did not allow them time to pursue their art careers. In 1946 they sold the Rocker Y and moved east of Dubois where they built a cabin that also served as an art studio. Joe wrote several books including his best known “Horses, Hitches, and Rocky Trails” that is still in print and considered one of the best guides to horse packing. The book advocates respecting the wilderness and caring for the mountain country. The Backs had an appreciation for wildlife and wild places. Both were hunters, and Mary enjoyed birdwatching along the Wind River. Her efforts resulted in the Wind River Artists Guild housed in the Headwaters Arts and Conference Center in Dubois, where works by Joe and Mary Back are on display.
The Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made significant and lasting lifetime contributions toward conserving Wyoming’s outdoor heritage through volunteer service, environmental restoration, education, visual and written media, the arts, and political and individual leadership.
A dinner and ceremony to honor the inductees will be held Oct. 12 at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody. The event is open to the public and is sponsored by Wyoming Wildlife – The Foundation (formerly Wildlife Heritage Foundation of Wyoming.) Call Roene Kruckenberg at 307-630-7687 to buy tickets ($35).
The inaugural class of 2004 featured Curt Gowdy, Calvin King, Frank and Lois Layton, Olaus and Mardy Murie, D.C.Nowlin, and President Theodore Roosevelt. The Outdoor Hall of Fame now has 42 inductees.
(Contact: Roene Kruckenberg, 307-630-7687)