As Westerners, we value our outdoor lifestyle. Our freedom to access lands and water – and the special animals within them – is a central piece of our Rocky Mountain heritage. This place is our common treasure.
Though we come from many different paths, we find ourselves seeking a new, shared direction forward. We are hunters, anglers, hikers, rafters, riders, and campers. We are voters, students, writers, parents, business owners, and engaged, informed community members.
And here we converge: we respect that wild animals are a critical part of our Western landscape. For our outdoor way of life to endure for generations to come, we need thriving, healthy wildlife populations – from the tiniest pikas to the burliest grizzly bears.
We must forge a new path ahead for grizzly bears; their fate hangs in the balance. Humans and bears must find a way to coexist in the Rocky Mountain West, and the journey towards better management and policies must be transparent. Together, we’re seeking a new bearing to guide our communities and conversations – one that is not undermined by politics, misunderstanding, and fear.
Grizzlies are a special part of our collective Western heritage and we want to ensure that they’re part of our shared future. That’s why we want Bear Tracks to be the True North – the beacon lighting the best path forward for bears and people to thrive in the West.
The Bear Tracks Team
Christen’s connection to conservation and to grizzly bears is rooted in a deep respect for wild places and a desire to see those places – and all their human and nonhuman inhabitants – protected. Throughout her career as a nonprofit leader, educator and conservationist, Christen has written and taught on topics ranging from mountain pine beetle infestations and fire ecology in forested landscapes to sustainable food systems and climate change. She holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Education and Nonprofit Administration and currently works in development and fundraising for the Grand Teton National Park Foundation. Christen and her husband live in the heart of the park at the historic Murie Ranch as caretakers. In 2019, she published a Short Biography of Margaret and Olaus Murie, exploring the lives and legacy of her conservation heroes. Christen enjoys trail running, botany and adventuring in wild places with a notebook and pen in hand.
Jaime Alexis Stathis is a nonfiction writer living in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Her favorite topics are humans, wildlife, and where the two intersect. Jaime loves grizzlies for their presence on the planet as barometers for how far humans have come and the distance we still need to go. Jaime spends as much time as possible exploring on foot, and while she’s smitten with the pine forests, it’s not unusual to see her rolling downhill to the ocean. Jaime has a degree in Writing and Rhetoric from William Smith College.
John Robinson grew up along the Lower Columbia River in Westport and Clatskanie, Oregon. He graduated from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon with a history degree first and then a master’s in teaching. He spent six years in Snohomish County, Washington teaching and coaching before entering graduate school at the University of Montana in 2006. After six incredible but not productive years in Missoula he moved to Spokane where he returned to teaching and then in 2014 to the Willamette Valley in Oregon where he teaches, writes, and walks. In addition to grizzly bears, he has written about Native American policy in the United States and researched for “Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire; A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival,” and “Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America’s Founding Father.”
Drew Higgins is an environmental educator and writer living in Jackson, WY. She recently finished the graduate program at Teton Science Schools, and before moving to Wyoming, taught environmental science to high school students on the coast of Maine. As a native east coaster, she deeply values grizzly bears for their ecological significance in western landscapes. When not writing, teaching or procrastinating, she enjoys rock climbing, skiing, and running with her Alaskan Malamute. Her writing has previously appeared in Outside Online, Climbing Magazine, the American Alpine Journal, and SIERRA Magazine.
Sarah is a professional wildlife guide who has been guiding in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem since 2011. She loves using stories, science and dialogue to help her guests learn, connect and form a deeper relationship with the national parks as well as their home ecosystem. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA in 2005. Prior to arriving in Jackson Hole, Sarah was the Education and Exhibits Coordinator at Kiawah Island Nature Center in South Carolina. In her free time Sarah enjoys exploring the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem with hiking boots, kayaks, skis, and snowshoes – usually accompanied by her loyal dog Linus.
Shawn is an environmental historian, writer, and professor at DePaul University in Chicago, where he teaches classes on the intellectual history of nature and the history of national parks. He has a BA in History from the University of Notre Dame and an MA and a soon-to-be-completed PhD in History from the University of Montana. In Montana, Shawn explored both the northern Rockies and the western expanses of the Great Plains—two traditional homes of the grizzly bear—and learned to appreciate the widespread impact grizzly populations have on the ecological health of their ecosystems. In addition to his interest in grizzlies, Shawn is currently writing a book about an Army Corps of Engineers dam project that threatened Glacier National Park in the 1940s.
Aspen’s love for grizzly bears and other carnivores began when she watched animators create Disney’s Brother Bear and later fell in love with the film. A recent Biology graduate of Wake Forest University, she is based in North Carolina. She started a one-woman carnivore coexistence organization, Pounce Conservation, that works to use research, science, education, and dialogue to promote carnivore coexistence. She was a guest on The Daily Max podcast, where she spoke about coexistence and myths about gray wolves. A trained wild canid field scientist, she currently monitors Eastern coyote populations in urban environments, particularly the Yanhi (Catawba for “river”) Pack. She currently leads a statistical research project on finding more exact causes for wolf-livestock conflict. Additionally, she works within her community to foster better relationships with the foxes, coyotes, and other wild creatures that share her ecosystem.