Council OKs slacklines in five Jackson parks
By Benjamin Graham, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
November 26, 2012
The Jackson Town Council agreed last week to allow slacklining in some town parks.
The line-walking sport had been banned based on a century-old law that made it illegal to use trees as hitching posts.
Convinced that horses are no longer a threat — and also that slacklining isn’t — the council told Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation staff to install signs stating rules for slackliners at five parks. The parks chosen were Range-view, Mike Yokel, Garaman, Powderhorn and Phil Baux. The activity, which involves tightrope-walking on a strand of nylon webbing between two trees, will be allowed at those locations if participants follow posted rules.
Slacklining had not been permitted in town because of an ordinance prohibiting the tethering of horses to trees on public property. The law was intended to protect trees from damage caused by horses tugging on the lines that tied them to trees.
Parks and recreation staff has previously claimed that the anchor system used to secure a slackline would damage trees. But department director Steve Ashworth told staff last week that, after looking further into the issue, he found that trees at least 12 inches thick wouldn’t suffer from the webbing and ratchet a slackline anchor requires.
The signs that will be posted will direct slackliners to stay away from smaller trees.
Another worry was that the lines could trip people.
The new rules state that slacklines shall be out of the way of pedestrian traffic and will be removed when not in use.
“The climbing community is pretty responsible when it comes to using their equipment and public space,” Mayor Mark Barron said. “I lean in favor of moving forward with this.”
Not everyone was convinced.
“This is a difficult proposal for me,” Councilor Bob Lenz said. “There are way too many subjective things that officers have to look at” when enforcing the rules.
Judging the appropriate location and general safety of a slackline setup will be difficult, he said.
The only place in town slacklining has been allowed is Phil Baux Park, where two posts have been installed as anchors.
“Really, these are recommendations,” Ashworth said of the new guidelines. “And that’s what a lot of our park rules are. It’s a way to educate users on an appropriate way of doing it.”
Council voted 3-1 to install the signs in parks next spring. Only Lenz voted against. Councilor Greg Miles was not present.