The home and surrounding compound where Paul McCollister hung his hat when he conceived Jackson Hole Mountain Resort isn’t going anywhere — in fact, it’s about to be shored up.
The same goes for two other historic Grand Teton National Park properties that were once slated to disappear: the Aspen Ridge and Sky ranches. Plans to convert four historic Mormon Row buildings to seasonal housing are also being scaled back. The changes are coming from park officials, who responded to public pushback to their 2016 Historic Properties Management Plan.
The changes were made “based on the public’s feedback and consultation with other organizations and entities,” Teton park spokeswoman Denise Germann said.
Teton park officials also revised a makeover of the White Grass Dude Ranch area, including expanding parking and nixing a spur road from Death Canyon Road.
Other than those changes the park’s Historic Properties Management Plan remained mostly intact from when it was released as an environmental assessment over two years ago. National Park Service officials signed off on a “finding of no significant impact” document authorizing the revised plans last October, though the development was not publicized until Monday. There was no particular reason for the delay, Germann said.
History lovers were outraged
The idea of razing some decades-old buildings while restoring others drew fire from conservationists and historians when it was first proposed. The sometimes-fiery feedback Teton park received highlighted the inherent predicament park planners face when trying to balance the protection of cultural resources with the natural environment and a historically developed landscape that’s reverted to a more wild character over the decades.
Some parts of Grand Teton’s historic properties wish list that were controversial remain unchanged. Among them is a plan to reoccupy the 4 Lazy F Dude Ranch, located north of Moose in the Snake River Plain’s riparian zone.
“Although the habitat is rich and used by a variety of species,” Teton Park’s decision says, “the National Park Service determined that allowing seasonal use such as occurred throughout the property’s private ownership would not have a significant effect on wildlife using the nearby area.”
Ostensibly, occupying 4 Lazy F also became more of a need because the park’s final plans eliminated three buildings of seasonal housing in Mormon Row.
Originally the old residences of Thomas Murphy and Joe Heninger, John Moulton (the “pink house”) and Andy Chambers were going to be converted to housing. In the end, just the Thomas Perry/Roy Chambers building, located near Ditch Creek, made the cut. The other three may be used for “administrative or interpretive” purposes, Germann said, but won’t house seasonal staff.
Some new uses coming
Other out-of-use historic buildings that will be reused include the former Snake River Land Company Office in Moran, which will be converted to a ranger station as early as 2019. Beaver Creek building No. 10 — once the park’s headquarters — is being rehabilitated for administrative use.
Teton Park officials will stabilize or “mothball” buildings like the McCollister place in lieu of razing or relocating them. The volunteer-staffed Grand Teton Hammer Corps and the Western Center for Historic Preservation, Germann said, will spearhead the work.
The decision doesn’t alter management of 32 already in-use historic properties, like Jackson Lake Lodge, Murie Ranch, Cunningham Cabin and Jenny Lake Ranger Station
Grand Teton’s decision OKs minor changes to four other historic properties. Buildings like the Shane Cabin, Lucas Homestead-Fabian Place and some of the buildings at the Bar BC Dude Ranch would be stabilized to withstand the elements or outfitted with interpretive signs to help visitors understand their history and significance.
Lastly, the decision authorizes stabilizing and preserving the Manges Cabin and Hunter Hereford Ranch for use by the Park Service.
Germann’s hope is the completed plans shine some light on Grand Teton’s cultural resources, which can take a backseat to its wild landscape and the animals that inhabit it.
“They’re telling the story of Grand Teton and the story of the land,” she said. “We’re excited, because it’s giving us some guidance.”