County electeds approved a designated emergency landing zone in Teton Village just in time for the winter search and rescue season.
The helicopter landing zone, proposed by the Teton County Sheriff’s Office and Teton County Search and Rescue, will allow rescuers to land in the same spot at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort every time there’s an emergency.
In previous years, rescuers had to land the helicopter in the Ranch Lot, which has become too crowded, or shut down Apres Vous Road.
Winter is the busier season for rescues in and around Teton Village.
“Plus or minus five times a year, the helicopter needs to touch down at the Village,” Teton County Search and Rescue member Alex Norton said, “and that’s usually for a short-haul operation.”
The landing area is a 150-by-150-foot grassy square at the corner of Apres Vous Road and Highway 390.
“That allows room for two helicopters,” Norton said. “If the injury is serious enough that we need to transport directly to an air ambulance to get them to Idaho, we can accommodate that.”
The landing zone will be marked by a wind sock in one corner.
“The idea is to leave the site as the undeveloped open meadow that it is and make no additional changes,” principal planner Hamilton Smith told the Teton County Board of County Commissioners on Monday.
After a successful fundraising year, Teton County Search and Rescue’s helicopter came back on contract Monday, chief advisor Cody Lockhart said. The team then had a rescue Tuesday.
“A hunter at a guided hunting camp had a back injury 17 miles from the closest trailhead,” he said. “To rescue someone without a helicopter that far out, it would take days.”
County commissioners approved the Teton Village landing zone Monday.
“Search and rescue helicopter operations really took a big leap this week,” Lockhart said.