The Ameya Preserve: The Rural Subdivision, Deluxe

This unique and controversial subdivision is being planned for the edge of Paradise Valley, between Livingston and Yellowstone Park. It is being built on Wineglass (Canyon Mountain) where a number of wolf packs have formed in the past.

Its design is far superior to the development that is already going on in the Paradise Valley. It might even by compatable with wildlife; but the fact that it is intended to be a place for socially conscious rich people makes it a lightning rod.

Story in New West. The Rural Subdivision, Deluxe. By David Nolt.

Another story in New West. Montana State Land for Sale. By David Nolt.

One more story in the series New West. Private Property, Public Access and Montana Values. By David Nolt.

The last in the series. New West. The Race to House the Super-Rich. By David Nolt. 

Here is the promo for the “preserve.”



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  1. cowboy the cat Avatar

    I’m not sorry to say that this sickens me. If you want to be a conservationist, be one. Enjoy the outdoors like the rest of us…. Outdoors. Don’t go building a house in the wilderness, with all the roads, helicopter pads, and infrastructure that entails and call it conservation. Give some money to a worthy organisation and go camping. I’m calling total B.S. on this one.

  2. Monte Avatar

    Yes. Let’s all live side by side in high rise apartments in the city, that way we can protect the wilderness areas we get to visit on our days off. We should also limit immigration to Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and anywhere else wilderness and wildlife exists. That’ll show em.

    These poeple are doing the best they can to live close to the things they love in a responsible manner, give them a break.

  3. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    If wildlife impact reduction is their main concern they would not be building there at all.
    They mentioned quite a few’emenities’ but not plans for a fire dept. Is there one close enough to serve the new development?

  4. Linda Hunter Avatar
    Linda Hunter

    the only way to develop land and maintain habitat of some sort is to cluster the houses close together. do you think that is in the plan?

  5. JB Avatar

    “the only way to develop land and maintain habitat of some sort is to cluster the houses close together”

    Actually, that depends on what species you’re attempting to maintain habitat for–racoons, skunks, oppossums, squirrels, and even coyotes do quite well in suburban and even urban areas. It also depends on the number of houses being built and where they are built. The problem in the West is that we have settled almost exclusively in the valleys, which are winter range for the ungulates and their predators.

  6. Jay Avatar

    I have no doubt that sooner than later, the elitist snobs that snatch these up as “weekend getaways” will be be calling in to complain about the grizzly eating their dog food, or the wolf that ate their cat, or the deer and elk eating their ornamentals. It never, ever fails…move to the country so you can complain about the animals being a nuisance.

  7. Mike Avatar



    Please stop moving to these areas unless your job requires it.

  8. johnnypeepers Avatar

    Marxist-inspired class-envy statements like “elitist snobs” do not help our cause. That type of language may put at risk of losing those who may be persuaded by our environmental and habitat concerns. Please be careful Comrade, the World is watching your words.

  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I posted about this unique subdivision because it does raise interesting questions about class conflict in the post-modern West.

    No one so far has really delved into them, however, including the comments above from Johnny, featuring rhetoric from the 1980s (could be 1920s)

  10. Jay Avatar

    I’m far from envious, Johnny–just tired of the folks that build in remote areas–ostensibly to be close to wildlife–and then complain when the wildlife do in fact get close. Disgust might be a better term.

  11. cowboy the cat Avatar

    Monte, That is an oversimplification and you know it. You are pandering to this new, Ultra-Rich lifestyle choice. “Let’s move as far away from other people as possible and yet maintain our level of comfort, thereby proving our mastery over nature.” There is plenty of beautiful property in the west that is not in the middle of untouched wildlife habitat. And I’m sorry Ralph, but the most ecologically friendly development plan for a pristine wilderness is like the prettiest turd in the pot. It Still smells like SH**.

    Johnny, I only envy their money because I know I’d spend it better.

  12. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I’m NOT arguing in favor of this development.

    I was hoping instead for discussion about rich people in traditional remote developments versus rich people in a more innovative remote one.

    I’ll bet the more innovative one will attract more opposition due to the character of traditional rural resentment.

  13. johnnypeepers Avatar

    “Johnny, I only envy their money because I know I’d spend it better.”

    Then earn it.

  14. Monte Avatar

    They do earn their money and as such no one else should tell them how to spend it. I think class envy is one of the most ugly political strategies used in the West today. Public land gets trashed because many people do not value what is given to them, “the tragedy of the commons.” These people are trying to take care of what they own and act as responsibly as they can, realizing that some impact is inevitable. Humans also require habitat.

  15. Monty Avatar

    The population projections are that in the next 40 years there will be another 100 million American’s & by the end of the century the population could be 800 million. And for those who can affort to do so, they will live in the most desirable locations & this doen’t mean Kansas! Even the most productive agriculture lands, like those found in Florida or Southern California are being buried with urban sprawl. If the most productive lands will be lost to sprawl, what hope is there for the less productive agriculture lands in Montana? The “pathology” of unlimited human growth grinds on!

  16. cowboy the cat Avatar

    “Then earn it”

    Like every rich person has, right? Like they have all scraped their way up from poverty to become mega-rich, right? You are delusional.

    All I’m saying is it’s not necesarry to be such a blatant consumer, no matter how much money you have. It’s vulgar.

    Ralph, I’m sorry I hijacked your post with my rant and made the discussion about my “class envy” rather than the real issues. For me it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other. There are a lot of really nice properties for sale in beautiful country all over the planet, but people just have to build their own. Whether it’s supposedly sustainable or not, it kinda makes me sick.

    P.S. Johnny, what is that picture of? It’s halarious.

    P.P.S. If it’s you, I’m sorry.

  17. Vicki Avatar

    This is just going to be another example of something for ranchers to gripe about. The sad truth is, these people, however honorable their intentions, will now be using their “riches” to fend off political attacks from others. From wolves eating to cattle, bison grazing in common areas with cattle, to yuppies and starlettes moving into traditional cowboy country… it will stir controversy.
    It wuld be a non-issue if they were renting condos in Jackson. But building an attempt at eco-friendly compound will inevitabley piss off some people.
    Point in fact… developement will occur unless someone with more cash can buy the land, and then be uneffected by it’s non-use. (Most of the wealthy people I’ve met didn’t get that way by spending their money on a non-profitable venture.) So we should probably be cautiously thankful that these folks want to be more eco-friendly than others would be.
    Question, should we embrace the new attitudes of wealthy people, and younger generations? They are trying to be environmentally conscious with their endulgences.
    Question, would these wealthy people be worth forming an alliance with? They say they are concerned about the environment, will they back that with their bank accounts?

    Where does Montana sit in the growth and developement rankings? I recently read that Woming is experiencing huge growth and increased influx of people moving in. Wouldn’t this be a good time to enact some legislation about housing developement, and environmental impact? You can’t stop peole from moving in, but you can regulate how they do it, and where. Maybe there is something to be learned by this… perhaps it will create a trend among builders…more green housing?

  18. Salle Avatar

    How about… NEED LESS!!

    Best bumper sticker I’ve seen in years.

  19. Salle Avatar

    From reading the first two paragraphs in this piece, one can see that the almighty dollar is the only “thing” of value in this country anymore. If it doesn’t turn a buck for whomever is the supposed “owner” then it carries no merit to anyone.

    Capitalism gone awry.

  20. cowboy the cat Avatar

    One more thing. After reading the other two articles you posted, I am even more opposed to this thing. As big and beautiful as our state and federal public lands seem to be, they are finite, and there are very (very, very, very) few circumstances where they should be sold (Consolidations in the checkerboard sections are one that I can think of). My concern is, and always as been for the wildlife and the “wildness” of the land. Please see Western Ecosystems Inc. study of large ungulate reactions to development on their winter range in Pinedale WY. It shows that far from adapting to it, they avoid it more and more over time, thus making the land essentially useless to them. Yes, the study is mule deer, but elk show even more avoidance. The report is here (pdf)

    And because it is so eloquent, here is the first comment after the last story about Ameya… It is by the president of the Park County Rod & Gun Club (an affiliate organization of the Montana Wildlife Federation),

    “By Hayes Goosey, 12-22-07
    This past hunting season, our club (The Park Co. Rod and Gun Club) again approached Dokken about public hunting access on Ameya. It has always been our goal to encourage him into a FWP block management program. Again Dokken tried to bribe our club with exclusive hunting access, even stating in an email to me that if our club would write letters to the editor of the Livingston Enterprise newspaper supporting Ameya “it would be greatly appreciated” eluding that our club would be compensated in some fashion. The PCR&GC declined this exclusive access which would no doubt expire as soon as Dokken used our club for his, and his alone, means. He contacted me again, in an almost challenging fashion, stating he had his property enrolled in FWPs block management program. Some simple checking on my part revealed that to be not true…a fabrication on Dokkens part to give the appearance that he was interested in something other than himself and his ‘private national park’. He still promotes privatization of the public’s resources through exclusive outfitting and bully tactics aimed more at disruption than true stewardship of the land.

    Wade Dokken is not interested in Park Co. or in sustainable, environmental development (oxymoron). He is not interested in protecting wildlife habitat or traditional heritage of the lands. He is not interested in providing conservation through reasonable public access or even being a productive member of any community. He is not versed in the concept of what a firm hand shake means to most Montanans. In his mind, he is an elegant peacock showing his plumage to the whos in whoville. To the rest of us, he is a barnyard bird building mud nests out of dung.

    My experiences with Wade Dokken are simplistic in nature due to his transparent objectives of making money at all costs. If this statement finds me me guilty of class envy…so be it. ”

    This illustrates the total lack of understanding that these developers have. They look at environmental stewardship as a hoop that they have to jump through to get what they want, which is bulldozers on public lands. They are claiming that they care about the land, but they only really care about how much money they can squeeze out of it.

    This is a very bad idea and will set an awful precedent.

    Oh, and now I know where Johnny and Monte got “class envy,” from Wade Dokken. Very original you guys. I’d rather be sneering at the devil from afar than waiting for the crumbs to fall from his table for my next meal.

  21. Buffaloed Avatar

    Johnny Peppers doesn’t seem to realize that there IS class warfare going on. The rich are winning it hands down and they like to claim that they are the victims and that no one should fight against them. I think that we SHOULD be fighting a class war and openly declare it instead of the stupid idea of running from the label. I think that there should be a single payer health care system that covers everyone and gets rid of the insurance companies entirely. That’s another topic altogether.

    Now, as far as development, the problem here is that most of the west has no development plan. The Paradise Valley is a perfect example. There was no consideration for wildlife and no plan at all, just sprawl. It will happen to the Madison Valley too if they don’t come up with a plan.

  22. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    It seems clear from David Nolt’s series that Dokken’s development is innovative only in its marketing scheme and the high quality of its eco-porn advertising. Otherwise, it’s the same old shit. This is particularly evident in the attempt to purchase the state land sections surrounded by the private property.

    I think we need to understand that there is NOTHING innovative about real estate development. It’s still about money and land control.

    We all need to review English history and the growth of the various Anglo-Saxon and Norman aristocracies during the feudal period, say, the years 500 AD through 1500 AD. I see the same process happening here.


  23. Ceng1 Avatar

    Your comments on class envy and lack of public land planning are interesting. The paradox of land planning in Montana and especially in Park County is that the residents vehimently oppose it unless they are directly affected by the lack of it. The farmers and ranchers will support land planning and the placement of new subdivisions near towns UNLESS they themselves are offered development prices for their land in which case they fall on the other side of the fence. Property rights seems to be subjective in that each property owner believes they have the God given right to do what they want with thier land, but thier neighbor doesn’t. “Your right to say what I can do stops at MY property line….. but my right to say what you can do extends somewhat beyond my property line”.

    The answer to the dilema is one of two things: either you are totally invested in community and communication with your nieghbors and working together to achieve what is best for everyone or you must have forced zoning in which you very well may lose out on the potential for growth or the rights to do what you want.

    The current community plan seems to be: We don’t want any limitations placed upon us, but we want everything to magically work out in our favor. Without fail, the farmers and rancher, the conservation districts, the wildlife professionals, the recreationists, the city dwellers and the occasional visitor is screaming for comprehensive zoning but the politician that actually says the word is drummed out of town.

    I judge the current debate as ‘telescopic interest’ – interest and debate from afar but no willingness to review the facts, get involved and make hard choices.

    Mr. Dokken has every right under Montana State Law to split his property up into 160 acre parcels, competely fence each property, build any road configuration that he desires and put any type of house on any one of those parcels without any review, public comment, or permit (outside of a simple wastewater system and an electrical inspection); even to the extent of lining houses up around the state lands.

    Ironically, if he did that I doubt the press would run more than 3 pieces on the matter. The public would shake thier heads and comments would be evenly split between ‘what a shame’ and ‘it’s his right to do what he wants on his land’.

    The property on the north face of the wineglass is split into 10 and 20 acre parcels – it looks like cord wood on a map and when that was done there were 3 comments in the paper and no formal press story.

    I do not know what Mr. Dokkens intents are but more importantly, unless I am willing to take the time to review the development submittals and have meaningful discourse beyond shaking my head and wagging my finger and sharing my ignorance with anyone on the internet – I have the intellectual honesty to say that if it is better than what he could be doing – I really don’t care.

  24. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I agree with you. You have pulled out a major reason why rural subdivisions have rarely been stopped in the West — too many people have a sense of community that is as strong as their sense of individual self interest.

    I think they sort of know this, but it is psychologically easier (less cognitive dissonance) to place blame on other factors.

  25. cowboy the cat Avatar

    Once again, I just want to point out that the “community” I am concerned with is the natural one. Regardless of what Mr. Dokken “could do”. What he IS DOING is sick. And the reason he has the right to do it is because of the selling off of what was once public lands. This particular project may no longer be something you can affect, Ceng1, but you can make this type of project less attractive to developers by discouraging your state from selling off your land. It doesn’t take a lot of time to fire off a letter or a phone call to your senator. Just sharing my ignorance. I’m really happy that you think you have such an awesome grasp of the intellectual crux of this argument. I hope that helps you sleep at night. But since you “don’t care”, I guess that wasn’t a problem anyway.

    Ralph, I think you mean “Too many people have a sense of community that is NOT as strong as their sense of individual self interest.” I agree with this also, but another point would be that the mountain west states have always been looking for that big industry that will drive them economically up with the coastal states, and they all tend to jump at any opportunity. Whether it’s energy, real estate, or tourism, these states bend over backward to acommodate anyone willing to spend or generate cash here. My hope is that as the value of ecological goods and services are better represented in the market, society will begin to see the benefit/risk ratio of rural development and subdivision. As of now, if you wave a wad of cash in front of somebody who is responsible for the fate of a wind-swept landscape with some elk on it, the choice is easy. Goodbye elk, hello McMansions.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan