A second open house offers the public another chance to weigh in on the future of Bureau of Land Management land along the Snake River.
The Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation Department is interested in discussing and brainstorming how the 320 acres just north of Emily Stevens Park should be used, if and when they are transferred from BLM ownership to Teton County.
At the first open house, comments from the public included pleas to leave the riparian habitat in its current state or to add picnic shelters, pathways and trails. Now, Parks and Rec hopes to build on those preliminary ideas.
“The discussion and brainstorming will continue, but this time we’ll be attempting to further refine and prioritize potential concepts and plans for the two parcels,” Parks and Rec Director Steve Ashworth said.
The BLM has been working to transfer ownership of several isolated parcels along the Snake for years because the agency’s nearest office is all the way in Pinedale. The Snake River Fund spearheaded a working group to develop a 2008 transfer plan for managing the corridor, detailing conditions and recommendations for each of the 24 parcels.
Ten years after the approval of the plan, and months before it’s set to expire at the end of 2018, Teton County is looking to complete a “master plan” for the Wilson parcel and take over some of the land. Progress on the overall transfer process has been slow because each parcel requires its own, distinct plan before ownership can change hands.
The impending expiration of the Snake River Fund’s 2008 plan has given the process new urgency.
The county hopes to utilize the Recreation and Public Purposes Act to transfer the land from the federal agency, which means the land has to include some sort of recreational value, like trails or picnic tables. It’s the same process currently underway to transfer the BLM parcels that are home to the Wilson and South Park boat ramps to the county.
The open house is set for 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Old Wilson Schoolhouse. The third and final open house is scheduled to be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 10 and is expected to cover final, formalized site-development concepts.
The recommendations from the open houses will be forwarded to the Teton County Board of County Commissioners for review as it works to finalize a master plan for the property, which it will use to draft legislation for U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., to introduce to Congress to realize the transfers.
— Frederica Kolwey contributed to this report.