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.
Bridger-Teton 240 acres bigger
The Bridger-Teton National Forest, the Conservation Fund and the Jackson Hole Land Trust announced that a 240-acre inholding had been transferred to the forest. The formerly private land, about an hour south of Jackson, is almost completely surrounded by public lands.
“It’s been a top priority for the forest for a couple of decades,” said Dan Schlager, Wyoming director for the Conservation Fund, which helped the U.S. Forest Service obtain the property.
In 2016 Loomis Park Ranch went up for sale with a $2.96 million price tag, and the Conservation Fund purchased the rolling expanse of forestland and sagebrush steppe. The forest didn’t have the funds to buy the land, so with help from the Jackson Hole Land Trust the nonprofit held on to ownership until it could gather the money.
This year that happened. When the U.S. Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act, it included annual funding of $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has existed since 1964 and uses oil and gas royalties to buy and protect wild lands. After the legislation’s passage in August the Bridger-Teton was able to procure the cash to buy the parcel.
King gondola talks grind on
The Jackson Town Council continued its monthslong discussion and debate over a lease for a gondola proposed to run from Phil Baux Park to the summit of Snow King Mountain Resort.
The council inched forward on an agreement, with some councilors looking for more “gives” from Snow King in return for what councilors said is a less-than-market-value lease rate on the town-owned park property where a new gondola and accompanying ticketing facility is planned.
But Snow King board member Jeff Golightly, who has represented Snow King throughout its negotiations with the Town Council and staff, said the council may be asking the ski resort — long referred to as the “Town Hill” — to give too much.
The council is considering three leases for Snow King. One is the lease for the gondola base in Phil Baux Park. The other two are a “facility and use” agreement that is proposed to run through 2024 with an option to renew for another three years, and a lease for nearly 4,000 square feet at the Snow King Sports and Events Center that would run for three years and include the option to renew twice for another three years each time, according to Community Development Director Tyler Sinclair.
Schools stay virtual on Fridays
Teton County school board trustees made it clear Wednesday night that they want kids back in school full time.
During consideration of a motion to bring elementary school students back to classrooms five days a week, trustees said the fifth day would be coming soon.
“I like the idea of maintaining the virtual Friday for this month,” Trustee Keith Gingery said. “But by October, I’d like to see us going full time.”
Gingery said secondary effects of the pandemic, such as mental health issues among kids or a decrease in educational quality, concern him.
The board set a special meeting for Oct. 5 to consider sending students back full time starting Oct. 19. Gingery and other trustees argued for at least setting a target date, but others hesitated.
“I’m concerned that will give the public the idea that they’ll go back to school on that date,” Trustee Kate Mead said.
Though they set a date for reconsideration, they didn’t give an indication of what they might look for in the pandemic data.
Teton County Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell previously told the board it would be difficult to set precise benchmarks that would trigger a reopening of schools, and the board is following that advice.