Pay It Forward

Beyond high finance, venture aspirations and industry associations, there are the people of ARCH with their personal goals and community interests. We believe in giving back … and paying it forward … and that it’s a worthy endeavor to put profits aside and be good citizens of the world. Each year ARCH organizes groups of volunteers to travel to Yellowstone National Park where, in association with the Yellowstone Park Foundation, they complete projects in the remote backcountry that sustain and improve the area for park rangers, visitors, researchers, livestock and wildlife.

The corporate and personal philanthropy efforts of ARCH and its associates have now expanded to include friends, colleagues, military veterans, and family … and we’re pleased to note that it is now a multi-generational effort! More than ten years into a sustained mission of service to community, country and environmental preservation, ARCH has sponsored 60 volunteers on nearly 20 trips to Yellowstone National Park. Most recently, we have invited disabled military veterans to join, and these brave men and their families have been an inspiration to us all.

We’re proud of our work in Yellowstone and are committed to continuing our volunteer efforts there. A brief history and a summary of projects is detailed below with the following caveat: voluntary service is meaningful not for the recognition, but for the giving.

ARCH Yellowstone Volunteers

ARCH has been organizing groups of volunteers, officially called the ARCH Yellowstone Volunteers, and sponsoring projects with Yellowstone National Park since 2000. We work with the Yellowstone Park Foundation to tackle challenging projects that maintain the quality, safety, accessibility and beauty of the park for visitors, researchers, park personnel, and livestock. ARCH deliberately chooses projects that are difficult for the park personnel and rangers to complete, as the demands for their time are too great and available funds are scarce.

Why Yellowstone?

It all started with ARCH co-founder Keith Crandell. In 1979 Keith’s brother was working as fireguard at Yellowstone. After a visit, Keith’s interest in Yellowstone and the Park Service was born. In 1980 he began his first work for Yellowstone, and attended and graduated from Ranger Academy, earning both academic excellence and Outstanding Marksmanship awards. In 1983 he began his first of many years of backcountry ranger service working with the Yellowstone poaching patrol to track illegal hunting and activities on the borders of the Park.

In 2000 Keith and Ranger Mike Ross organized a small patrol of ARCH volunteers, including Clint Bybee, Paul Thurk and Mark McDonnell, to clear backcountry trails and campsites, and make improvements to ranger cabins. Keith, Clint, Mark and Paul have returned every year since then to lead volunteer groups - as small as two and as large as 29 – to work in Yellowstone. They have invited friends, scientists, entrepreneurs, industry colleagues and family members to join them and an average team now is in the range of 15 to 25 people. Over the past decade ARCH has sent teams of volunteers to assist in four backcountry districts of Yellowstone including Lamar, Lake, Snake River and Bechler Districts.

Throughout 2001 and 2002 the volunteers continued their trail management and backcountry work, and the ARCH Yellowstone Volunteers, led by Clint Bybee, also began working with the Yellowstone Park Foundation in 2003 to tackle larger projects. Their initial job was a two-year reconstruction of the Snake River corrals.

In 2006 seventeen ARCH Yellowstone Volunteers constructed a 300-foot buck and rail corral fence, cleared downed trees and built water bars for more than 200 miles of trails. They also relocated hygiene facilities, erected food poles in camp sites and made hitching posts for patrol cabins. ARCH Yellowstone Volunteers provided all the workers, trained the group leaders, and provided food, supplies and equipment for the multi-day trips deep into the backcountry at no cost to the Park. In addition, Paul Thurk spent many hours cultivating a relationship with Stihl, who became a sponsor and has donated nearly $10,000 worth of forestry and personal protection equipment needed to clear trails by hand.

Keith Crandell also spearheaded a new initiative called Project SOAR (Search, Observe & Report), again with the assistance of the Yellowstone Park Foundation. SOAR supports law-enforcement efforts through fixed-wing aircraft to detect illegal hunting and snowmachine use, and other boundary incursions in the remote backcountry. Keith played a key role in raising and donating funds to lease high performance snowmachines for swift response in Project SOAR land patrols.

George B. Hartzog Award

These efforts in backcountry improvements earned the ARCH Yellowstone Volunteers the George B. Hartzog award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. The award was named for former National Park Service director, George Hartzog, who created the Volunteers-In-Parks program in 1970. In May 2007 Clint Bybee accepted the Group Volunteer Award at a ceremony in Washington D.C.

Wounded Warriors and Buffalo Ranch Corral

Keith Crandell was invited by Cole Van Nice of Chart Ventures to attend the 2008 Wounded Warriors Dinner in New York City and he learned of the affiliated program, Disabled Sports USA, which supports recovering soldiers in sports during rehabilitation. Keith worked with Clint Bybee and the Yellowstone Ranger division to organize and sponsor five soldiers, and bring them to Yellowstone for the Buffalo Ranch Corral project that the ARCH Yellowstone Volunteers took on in 2009 and 2010.

The Lamar District’s Buffalo Ranch was built around 1907 with corrals to hold bison in a ranching effort to preserve the badly decimated species. Now the corral accommodates livestock used in backcountry operations like boundary patrol, and search and rescue missions. The Ranch also serves as a ranger station and as a hub for education and research. In the fall of 2008 ARCH accepted the two-year commitment to rebuild the corral, which was largely the original posts and rails from the early 1900’s.

Importantly, the new corrals were designed and constructed in the historic and original two-post-nine-rail and the buck and rail designs to maintain the character of the Ranch, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The corral was a creative and hard-to-assemble combination of sturdy jackleg, slip-rail and historic nine-rail, double post fence with gates and chutes to connect them.

Clint Bybee organized and led the first group of volunteers in early summer 2009 that began the task of dismantling the old corral system, removing debris, setting posts and gates, and constructing a section of buck and rail fencing across a nearby creek.

In late August 2009 a second group of volunteers met at the Buffalo Ranch to continue rebuilding the corrals. The unlikely group included scientists, financiers, rangers, and recuperating war veterans. They came from points across the U.S. on their own time and at their own expense to volunteer for five days of hard labor. Prior to the trip, ARCH donated $4,500 to the Yellowstone Park Foundation to purchase fence posts, rails, and hardware, which were waiting for them when they arrived.

In recognition of his efforts to organize the Buffalo Ranch Corral project, Clint Bybee was presented with a Volunteer Leadership Award from Yellowstone’s Chief Ranger, Tim Reid and Deputy Chief Ranger, Nick Herring. Clint accepted the award on behalf of the ARCH group.
The Ranch corral rebuild continued in 2010 with a group of 22 volunteers including a second group of eight from the Wounded Warrior program. By the end of the project ARCH and the ARCH Yellowstone Volunteers had contributed over $18,000 in supplies, materials and volunteer provisions to the project, which was also funded and sponsored by the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

This was the second of four fencing projects ARCH tackled at Yellowstone.

Also in 2010 the volunteers repaired the corral at Trail Creek, and at Tower Corral they demolished and rebuilt 1,300 feet of old fencing. As always, the groups cleared many miles of trail and completed a bevy of other backcountry projects.

Some of the additional projects ARCH and the ARCH Yellowstone Volunteers have helped with include: