ABWF Staff

Joe Josephson, Executive Director

Born in Big Timber, Montana along the Yellowstone River, “The AB” has been the backdrop for Joe’s entire family, personal, and professional life. From the very first impulses to “just see what’s around the next corner” that pushed him deeper into the range, to his initial summer jobs working at the early Stillwater Mine and on the USFS Big Timber and Gardiner Ranger Districts during the ’88 fires, Joe can confidently say he was “raised” in the Beartooths. Joe joined the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Foundation as Executive Director in 2023 after many years of conservation and outdoor industry leadership.

During his tenure at the Greater Yellowstone Coalition for over a decade, Joe served as the lead architect to halt two foreign-backed gold mines on the edge of the Wilderness and Yellowstone National Park. He organized the community to prevent the start of a massive mine above Chico Hot Springs by just one day in 2015, leading to the bipartisan Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act of 2019, which permanently protected more than 30,000 acres of public land from mining. Then, on the eve of the pandemic in 2020, Joe, along with several landowners, prevented an already permitted mine on Crevice Mountain on the border of Yellowstone and the AB Wilderness by just one hour. Joe subsequently negotiated a historic agreement that, on October 1, 2023, eliminated the last remaining gold mine threat to Yellowstone National Park.

Joe has facilitated other collaborative wilderness and community-driven efforts, including improving wildlife migrations in Paradise Valley, resolving Wilderness Study Area and Travel Planning conflicts, and managing trail stewardship projects. As the founder of the non-profit Friends of Hyalite, Joe helped establish an innovative cost-sharing partnership between county government, the Forest Service, and the public, which has received national recognition.

An award-winning author and publisher, Joe has created more than two dozen outdoor books and maps, ranging from the Canadian Rockies to the Wind River Range, including the definitive guidebook/map to Granite Peak, Montana’s highest point, in the heart of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness.

Joe holds a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education with an emphasis in Outdoor Pursuits from the University of Calgary. He currently resides in Bozeman with his partner, Paola Feher, who runs a successful yoga therapy, massage, and Ayurveda practice. They spend as much time as they can chasing huckleberries, summits, ice climbs, ski runs, and their two amazing kittens.

“Throughout my endeavors in writing, outdoor recreation, and conservation, I strive to build connectivity between people, the landscape, interactions with nature, and our greater community, with a vision toward a better future.” Joe considers it a tremendous honor to follow the long line of Absaroka Beartooth stewards stretching back for millennia.

Lauren Swett, Program Manager

Lauren is joining us in Gardiner, MT, the tiny high desert that grabbed her heart during one of two seasons as a research assistant in Yellowstone. Her introduction to the Beartooth backcountry took place with the Wilderness Institute and later evolved into LAC monitoring as an intern on the Gardiner Ranger District in 2017. A few seasons as an educator in field ecology here, a few seasons as a habitat restoration specialist in her home grounds in Oregon there, and a wonderful summer leading volunteer crews in the Bob eventually led her to us. Lauren believes in community as knowing and caring for place. She looks forward to continuing to learn and grow in this landscape with ABWFs volunteers.

Jarret Kostrba, Operations Manager

After over a decade as Park Manager for Pictograph Cave State Park and Fishing Access Sites along the Stillwater River Jarret’s thrilled the road has brought him closer to home in Red Lodge, MT. “Dedicating my time supporting the stewardship of these vast mountains is something I had only dreamed of.” Born in Butte and raised in the Gallatin Valley, he attended college at University of Montana-Western and majored in Environmental Interpretation with minors in both Biology and Geology. Jarret spends free time with his family backpacking and fishing the AB Wilderness, trying to knock off a new location every summer.