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.
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
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:
- Raising and donating funds for a boat for the Trail Creek ranger stationed on Yellowstone Lake.
- Sponsorship and funding of multiple Tactical Tracking Operation School courses. Keith Crandell
is an instructor. Also, sponsorship of multiple rangers to attend advanced firearms training.
- Clearing hundreds of miles of trails and thousands of trees in the Bechler, Snake River, Lake and
Lamar Districts using mechanized equipment and also primitive non-mechanized tools in accordance
with National Park Service Wilderness Mandates.
- Building and installing custom signage for Tower and Buffalo Ranch Corrals.
- Raising and donating funds for Thermal Imaging Units for fire prevention and detection.
- Donating funds to acquire backcountry equipment and supplies, and staffing boundary saturation
patrols during critical seasonal time periods.
- Developing a relationship with Federal Signal Corp. for a license plate recognition camera
system at multiple park entrance stations.