Rick Reese

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Rick Reese
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Born1942 (age 80–81)
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
CitizenshipUnited States
EducationBachelor of science
Alma materUniversity of Utah
  • Environmental activist
  • Alpininst
Known forFounder of Greater Yellowstone Coalition
Spouse(s)Mary Lee

Rick Reese (1942-present) is an environmental activist who founded the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and an alpinist who participated in the North Face Grand Teton rescue in 1967.

Early life and work

Richard “Rick” Langton Reese was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1942.[1] He graduated from East High School and joined the National Guard in fall 1960. He served six months active duty, returned home for three months, and spent another year overseas on active duty in 1961 in response to the Berlin Crisis.[2] Reese then earned a bachelor of science from the University of Utah in 1966[3] before moving to Denver to complete a graduate degree at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow.[2]

Reese worked as a Climbing Ranger at Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park in the 1960s during his years as a graduate and undergraduate student. After completing his degrees, he moved to Montana and began teaching political science as an assistant professor at Carroll College in 1970.[1]

Environmental career

In 1980, Reese and his wife Mary Lee were hired by Yellowstone National Park Superintendent John Townsley[4] to run the Yellowstone Institute (now Yellowstone Forever), a non-profit organization that teaches the public about Yellowstone National Park.[5] During 1981, Townsley and Reese began discussing the need to "manage the greater Yellowstone area."[6] Reese began planning for a new organization to protect Yellowstone National Park in late 1982.[4] The Greater Yellowstone Coalition was officially incorporated on November 7, 1983,[6] and Reese served as founding president for the next two years.[7]

In 1985, Reese moved back to Salt Lake City to “run an outfit called the Utah Geographic Series, a series of five books about Utah."[2] In 1989, Reese took a job as the Director of Community Relations at the University of Utah, where he worked until his retirement in 2003.[8] He also chaired the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Committee for twenty years.[9]

Alpinist career

Reese became interested in climbing when he saw the film The Conquest of Everest in 1954 at the age of 11. In 1959, he and a group of friends decided to climb Mount Rainier. At the time, they were the youngest ever unguided group to summit the peak. Later, Reese was contacted by the Alpenbock Climbing Club at Olympus High School, which marked his entry into the climbing world.[2]

Reese and his friends spent a great deal of time climbing in the Wasatch Mountains and other areas around Utah, and Reese gained a reputation as a skilled alpinist. He used his climbing skills during his career as a ranger. In 1967, he participated in a North Face rescue in the Grand Teton with several other students.[10]

Personal life

Rick Reese married his wife Mary Lee sometime before October 1970, when the couple’s first child, a daughter, was born. In 1972, they had another child, a baby boy.[2]

Later years

In 2004, Reese retired from public life and returned to Bozeman, Montana. He continues to serve on the board of Mountain Journal, a non-profit, environmentally-focused publication that he helped found.[11] Reese also serves as the co-chair for the Bonneville Shoreline Preservation group.[8] He donated his papers to Montana State University, which are now held by Special Collections and Archival Informatics at the Montana State University Library. In 2009, Reese briefly re-emerged from retirement to serve as the interim executive of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition again.[12]


  • Reese, Rick. Greater Yellowstone: the National Park and Adjacent Wildlands. Helena, Mont: Montana Magazine, 1991.
  • Reese, Rick. Montana Mountain Ranges. Helena, MT: Montana Magazine, 1985.
  • Reese, Rick. Interview with David F. DeLap : February 23, 1980, Bozeman, Montana. Salt Lake City, UT: Rick Reese, 2004.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hultman, Heather C.. “Biographical Note.” Rick Reese Collection, 1981-2013. Montana State University, Special Collections and Archival Informatics, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Worsencroft, John., "Rick Reese, Salt Lake City, UT: an interview by John Worsencroft, December 8, 2008,” transcript of an oral history conducted 2008 by John Worsencroft, American West Center, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Santa Cruz, 2008, 34 pp.
  3. Continuum Staff. “Through the Years: Short Alum Profiles and Class Notes.” Continuum. University of Utah. Accessed April 23, 2020. https://continuum.utah.edu/departments/through-the-years-3/.
  4. 4.0 4.1 “Rick Reese and the Greater Yellowstone System.” kGvm 95.9. Accessed April 23, 2020. https://kgvm.org/show/rick-reese-and-the-greater-yellowstone-ecosystem/.
  5. “Staff & Board.” Mountain Journal. Accessed April 21, 2020. https://mountainjournal.org/staff-and-board.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Lundquist, Laura. “Greater Yellowstone Coalition Celebrates 30-Year Anniversary.” Bozeman Daily Chronicle, September 21, 2013. https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/environment/greater-yellowstone-coalition-celebrates-30-year-anniversary/article_32da307e-2247-11e3-8d33-001a4bcf887a.html.
  7. Larsen, Erika, Cory Richards, David Guttenfelder, Charlie Hamilton James, and Michael Nichols. “Yellowstone's Future Hangs on a Question: Who Owns the West?” National Geographic, April 1, 2016. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/05/yellowstone-national-parks-part-3/.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Carver, Karen and Lindsey Moore. “Historical Note.” Rick Reese Papers, 1959-2008. University of Utah Libraries, Special Collections, 2019.
  9. “Rescuer Profiles.” The Grand Rescue: A True Story of the 1967 Teton Rangers. We Aspired Productions. Accessed April 23, 2020. http://www.thegrandrescue.com/rescuers.php.
  10. Prettyman, Brett. “North Face Grand Teton: The Ultimate Rescue.” The Salt Lake Tribune. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://archive.sltrib.com/story.php?ref=/ci_13169395.
  11. MSU News Service. “MSU Wonderlust to Host Founders of Mountain Journal Oct. 20.” Montana State University, October 16, 2017. https://www.montana.edu/news/17203/msu-wonderlust-to-host-founders-of-mountain-journal-oct-20.
  12. Gazette News Services. “Conservation Group Get Interim Head.” The Billings Gazette, January 25, 2009. https://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/conservation-group-get-interim-head/article_ec9a866d-a2e9-5f67-9a15-d5ec45045d64.html.

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