Friday, April 16, 2021
Nature Lover Leaves Lasting Legacy for Future Generations to Enjoy
Scott Boettger says the Wood River Land Trust will try to preserve the short-lived architecture of the Bryson home, which Liz Pedersen and her dog Dexter are showcasing, as it turns it into an educational center or something else.
Saturday, December 26, 2020


Jill Bryson was furious when the Wood River Land Trust acquired 150 acres of cottonwood forest along the Big Wood River for its Colorado Gulch Preserve.

She, her husband Kevin and their menagerie of Irish Wolfhounds had spent many a year living a somewhat hippie-like existence in their shed-style house that blended into the surrounding cottonwood and aspen. And she could only imagine that the place would turn into a zoo of people encroaching on their own private Idaho and, perhaps, even trashing the place.

But, as she watched nature lovers stroll through the woods with children and dogs in tow, she came to appreciate the opportunities that the preserve created. She expressed her appreciation months later when the Land Trust’s Director Scott Boettger notified her that the Land Trust had acquired another piece of property to expand the preserve.

Jill Bryson, in the plaid blue shirt and sunglasses, and her Woopie won the 2015 Irish Wolfhound Nationals.

“I am so honored and delighted….” she wrote. “You’ve made my life better and better.”

Bryson died a year ago on Dec. 18, 2019. And, when she did, she left her home and 2.8 acres of surrounding property to the Land Trust. The Land Trust announced its acquisition this week.

“That to me is so rad—that she went from having huge apprehension about these trails near her house to leaving all her possessions to the Land Trust,” said Liz Pedersen, the Land Trust’s annual fund manager. “I believe it speaks to the power of our community—the way our community cherishes and takes care of our public lands.”

The Bryson house, which WRLT Director Scott Boettger describes as “architecturally unique,” features an upstairs loft that can be viewed from the ground floor. Right now, a few simple furnishings are in the house built in 1976, including a wooden kitchen table, book shelf and antique wooden skis.

A chicken coop sits on the Bryson property.

There is also a chicken coop and shed on the property.

Boettger said the home could be used as an educational center with classrooms and restrooms, although nothing has been decided yet.

“Ten to 15 years from now we’ll have a place where kids can talk about everything from meadowlarks to butterflies,” he said. “And, we haven’t had a place to store equipment. Now we do.”

The Bryson property abuts the Land Trust’s new pollinator meadows which sits just past its wooden fence.

Jill Bryson left a number of creeds to live by tacked up in her house, including this one that St. Francis of Assisi would have applauded.

“This acquisition means we also have the opportunity to expand restoration in this area,” said Pedersen.

A native of Santa Barbara, Calif., Bryson attended University of California at Berkeley during the late 1960s when the university was making headlines for its Free Speech Movement, war protests and counterculture. After marrying Kevin Bryson, an art student at the California College of Arts & Crafts, she moved to Hailey in 1972 with an Irish Wolfhound puppy and Kevin’s jewelry studio.

Kevin and Jill took more and more Irish Wolfhounds into their home over the years, the woods offering the Wolfhounds plenty of room to play as the home was on the outskirts of town at the time.

“We went to the dogs!” Bryson would often say.

The Bryson shed sits in view of Della Mountain.

Her love for dogs led Bryson to work as a veterinary technician for 40 years for Veterinarian Bob Beede, then Randy and Mark Acker. She became a licensed canine rehabilitation technician providing therapy for dogs and teaching dog agility courses behind the Sawtooth Animal Center in Bellevue. And, she became involved in Sighthound lure coursing where dogs that pursue prey by sight rather than scent chase after bags attached to lures that whiz by them.

Pedersen says the appreciation that Bryson grew to have for the Colorado Gulch Preserve out her front door is as much a testament to the community as to the Land Trust.

“I walk my dog in Draper Preserve every day and I see how this community takes care of these spaces,” she said. “Our goal is to create another opportunity for people, for families to enjoy nature. And I feel so much gratitude to Jill for helping make this possible.”



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