Game and Fish pushes back Teton development plan from legislature
Wyoming is expected to maintain critical wildlife habitat, access to recreation and hunting on 3,555 acres of school trust land in Teton County that lawmakers have targeted for development, the Hunting and Wildlife Department said. fishing to those responsible for managing state land.
Biologists and other agency employees weighed in on the value of 18 parcels of state land spanning 3,976 acres, identifying nine as worthy of preservation for existing wildlife and recreation uses – nearly 90% of the area under study.
“We support the maintenance or enhancement of existing uses on the following parcels,” wrote Amanda Losch, Supervisor of Game and Fish Habitat Protection, Office of Land and State Investments in an area. letter listing sensitive lands. They “provide critical habitats (individually or in combination) for moose, elk, mule deer or bighorn sheep, and provide public access to outdoor recreation focused on fish and wildlife.”
The list includes the 640-acre Kelly School Section, located within the eastern boundary of Grand Teton National Park, and four other unspoiled one-square-kilometer sections adjacent to federal property. A section on Flat Creek east of the National Elk Refuge which is surrounded by the Bridger-Teton National Forest; a section in the Cache Creek drainage just east of Jackson which is also surrounded by forest; and 640 acres on Porcupine Creek which the forest borders on three sides are also on the list.
In the section of Munger Mountain near Butler Creek, about 12 miles south of Wilson on the rural Fall Creek Road, Game and Fish says commercial development would be inconsistent and impact wildlife and recreation uses .
The Game and Fish List includes four plots on East Gros Ventre Butte, just northwest of Jackson, which cover crucial mule deer wintering grounds – a limited commodity in Jackson Hole. But Game and Fish has not opposed the development of a major state-owned operation about a mile south of Teton Village and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
These 640 acres are set in the midst of high value, low density subdivision and significant open space on a busy road connecting the ski resort to Wilson and Jackson. The state can expect some “disappointment / backlash” by not also identifying this plot, the agency’s wildlife management coordinator Doug McWhirter wrote in a memo.
But the Teton Village plot contains “no critical wildlife habitat and receives little recreational use other than hunting,” he wrote. “This is not the hill to die on,” the note to Losch read.
In an effort to find new sources of income, state lawmakers passed a law in 2020 that called for “commercial, retail, recreational, agricultural and residential development.” proposals which “would maximize the value of the plot[s] to the extent possible. They also asked the state’s Bureau of Lands and Investments to identify “potential increases or decreases in public access to hunting, fishing and other current recreational activities.”
The Kelly Plot in Grand Teton National Park “offers arguably the most recreational opportunity of any State Trust Land plot in Teton County,” reads Losch’s letter to Jason Crowder, deputy director of the office. state land.
The federal government and environmentalists have teamed up to purchase and maintain a nearby 640-acre public school section inside the park for $ 46 million in 2016. The Kelly Plot “provides important recreational access to the park. hunting and management of elk and bison, ”Losch wrote. “Regardless of agency ownership (Grand Teton National Park or OSLI), this parcel provides significant public access to various outdoor recreation opportunities, and we support the continued management of this parcel to provide access to the public hunting, ”reads his letter.
South of Wilson, the Munger Mountain / Butler Creek school section adjoins Forest Service property on two sides, providing significant access for hunters, the letter from Losch says.
“It is heavily used by sportsmen during the hunting season for elk, deer, moose and mountain grouse,” the letter read. “This parcel provides critical winter habitat for elk and moose, and is adjacent to an elk calving area. “
Glamorous camping company Under Canvass offered to lease part of the property for 25 years to operate a 90-tent seasonal “luxury camping experience”. The Jackson Hole Land Trust argued instead for conservation.
Game and Fish apparently agrees with the land trust. “Commercial development inconsistent with existing uses may negatively impact wildlife and wildlife-based recreation in this parcel,” Losch wrote. “The Department supports conservation-based proposal options that would maintain public access and existing uses.
The Cache Creek and Flat Creek sections – both surrounded by federal land – should also be managed in a way that allows public access for hunting and recreation and are both critical wintering areas for wildlife, wrote Losch. She made a similar case for the 640 acres of Porcupine Creek, where national forest borders three sides of state property.
Game and Fish also supports the conservation of four East Gros Ventre Butte parcels totaling approximately 355 acres.
The high-profile Teton Village plot was the site of a development proposal by members of the Resor family, who developed the upscale Shooting Star golf course and their ranch neighborhood just to the north. But that plan was quickly withdrawn.
Wildlife and Fish Coordinator McWhirter wrote that all land in Teton County state is important for wildlife and recreation.
However, when judged in terms of size, habitat and public recreation, the nine high priority Game and Fish plots stand out. They “have a greater impact on the conservation of local ungulate populations” than other plots in the state, McWhirther wrote in documents obtained by WyoFile via an application for registration.
Representatives for Teton County in the legislature have said the state should not focus on Teton County, but enforce statewide control. Nonetheless, lawmakers and state officials have moved forward, seeking development and conservation proposals.
The board is to then meet in an executive session on December 1 and in a public meeting on December 2. No agendas have been published for these meetings.