This is a selection of stories printed in the News&Guide’s sister publication, the Jackson Hole Daily. Find the rest of the story at JHNewsAndGuide.com.
Dog race makes COVID-19 plan
Snowy trails are likely not near top of mind right now for anyone in the valley, but already one of the area’s staple winter competitions is making plans for forging ahead.
The Pedigree Stage Stop Race, which completed its 25th running in February, announced last Wednesday its plans for the 2021 sled dog competition if COVID-19 causes any disruptions.
The race is creating options so mushers can prepare for the race with minimal financial risk.
Applications will be accepted from mushers beginning Sept. 1. Entry fees will be refunded if the race is canceled prior to its start, if a musher is not able to enter the United States because of pandemic-related travel restrictions, or if a musher or household member tests positive for the coronavirus. If a musher tests positive for the coronavirus and recovers before the start of the race, he or she will remain eligible to compete.
County moves on BLM lands
The county is eyeing a change in its nearly two-decade quest to acquire federal lands along the Snake River, and it looks like some federal firepower has gotten on board.
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, wrote a supportive letter to the Teton County Board of County Commissioners in July offering to work with them throughout the process.
“That is really an indication that there is a will from the senator and a likelihood that this could happen as a lump sum package,” said Jared Baecker, director of the Snake River Fund, which advocates for public access throughout the river corridor and has been a party to transfer conversations for over a decade.
Teton County and other valley agencies have been working since 2004 to take possession of a slate of parcels owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The county has emerged as the primary body poised to take over and manage most of the riparian lands, and in April the county commissioners hired the Western Land Group to advise on the best way to get it done.
River put-in puts some out
After receiving a complaint, the county is planning to block vehicular access to a Hoback beach that some have begun using as a boat ramp.
“It’s not an official boat ramp,” Commissioner Greg Epstein said at a July 13 meeting. “I don’t have problems with people using the county property to have a picnic or fish. I think the issue is people are driving down there with their trailers and either putting boats in or taking boats out.”
The property in question is a small sliver of county-owned land at the confluence of the Hoback and Snake rivers, just east of the bridge over the Snake River near Hoback Junction. The land has been in the county’s portfolio since at least 2015. Chief Deputy Attorney Keith Gingery said it was originally purchased as a put-in for kayaks, and people often take advantage of its position at the confluence of the two rivers to fish from the parcel’s shore.
Joe Larrow, who first emailed commissioners about the issue July 6, said people started using the area as a takeout for rafts this spring after access to a private takeout a few hundred yards upriver was cut off. The new use, he said, is impacting the area.
Trailhead break-ins probed
Police are looking for two men they suspect broke into cars parked at the Phillips Trailhead on Teton Pass on the morning of July 21.
At least four cars had damage from someone trying to pry open their driver’s side locks, Teton County sheriff’s Sgt. Jesse Willcox said, and a dozen credit cards and $120 cash was reported missing.
“In those incidents the lock on the driver’s door was punched using a tool of some sort,” Willcox said.
Willcox said he’s working with Idaho detectives, too, because the suspects may be responsible for additional crimes there.
Park puts down black bear
A young, food-conditioned black bear that had been hanging around Jenny and String lakes was euthanized Thursday in Grand Teton National Park.
The park’s decision to put down the bear came after an incident Wednesday during which the bear approached a campsite in the Jenny Lake Campground that a family was occupying at the time, went to the picnic table and began eating food that was out.
The campers were relocated to another site, and the area was closed so the bear could be captured. It was trapped and killed Thursday evening. The bear was estimated to be about 1 1/2 years old and 60 pounds.
Odors from food and other scented products can attract bears to campgrounds and picnic areas.
The park recommends that picnickers keep only “immediate use” items out so they can be put away quickly if a bear approaches. That removes the opportunity for the bear to receive a food reward, which can habituate the animal, lead to future conflicts and, possibly, its death.
Park visitors should not burn waste in fire rings or leave litter in campsites. Food and other scented products should be stored in a hard-sided vehicle or the bear-resistant food lockers in the park.
“The key reminder is to everybody that we live and recreate in bear country and we ask that everybody recreate responsibly,” Grand Teton spokesperson Denise Germann said.