Volunteer Fence-Pullers Make Wildlife Migration Safer

Katelyn Maley wraps up barbed wire to make it easier for wildlife to move freely across the landscape during this 2018 fence pull. More fence removal projects are scheduled for this Saturday, July 27, Aug. 10, Aug. 24, Sept. 14 and Sept. 28.

Have a favorite wild river?

The Bridger-Teton National Forest is asking the public to help inventory its wildest rivers.

The project is part of legwork the Bridger-Teton is doing ahead of an upcoming forest plan revision. The last internal inventory of forest rivers and streams was included in the forest’s most recent 1992 forest plan and resulted in more than 400 miles of the Snake River headwaters being designated as “wild,” “scenic” or “recreational” under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

The act requires the forest to review rivers and streams that could qualify for protection under the 1968 law.

The Bridger-Teton has posted an interactive “story map” on its website that allows people to identify all rivers and streams that are named on 7.5’ USGS quadrangle topographic maps.

The public comment portal of the story map will remain open through the summer, though comments received by July 19 are preferred. The story map is posted online at FS.USDA.gov/btnf/.

The end product will be a draft eligibility report that would be published next spring, but the final decision on which rivers are Wild and Scenic Rivers Act eligible won’t be made until the forest plan is revised.

Teton park wants to pave Meadow Road

Grand Teton National Park has reissued a proposal to pave Meadow Road, an approximately 1-mile gravel route that connects to a subdivision in the Snake River bottomlands.

The idea has split a neighborhood into two camps: the folks who appreciate the dirt thoroughfare and neighbors who don’t want to deal with the upkeep. When the park was moving forward with similar plans in 2015 there was a lawsuit targeting the National Park Service and a group called the Gravel Road Society formed.

Comments are being sought on the plan and will be assessed through July 25. Reasons cited by the park for supporting paving include cost, safety, dust control and “all-season trafficability.”

Submit comments or review a newsletter containing details about the paving proposal at ParkPlanning.NPS.gov/meadowroad.

Fence pulls continue all summer

The Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation is continuing fence removal and modification projects that are intended to help animals move around the landscape.

Projects are scheduled for this Saturday, July 27, Aug. 10, Aug. 24, Sept. 14 and Sept. 28.

Salt Creek project is OK’d

The Bridger-Teton National Forest has signed off on plans to improve fish habitat and water quality along a section of Salt Creek.

The project encompasses 4 miles of the creek running parallel to Highway 89, about 25 miles north of Cokeville. That stretch has in-stream infrastructure that’s “failing,” hurting the popular Bonneville cutthroat trout fishery.

Cooperators on the project include the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Trout Unlimited, the Bureau of Land Management and the Wyoming Department of Transportation. The project is focused on improving fish passage and restoring and reconnecting miles of Bonneville cutthroat habitat.

Bridger-Teton officials are accepting objections to the project through July 29. Email them to objections-intermtn-regional-office@fs.fed.us with “Salt Creek Restoration” in the subject line.

An environmental assessment and decision memo about the project are posted online at TinyURL.com/saltcreekproject.

There’s more history in your future

The Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum has arranged two more public presentations about environmental history.

On July 31 Thomas Andrews will speak about horse culture and native people. On Aug. 14 Dan Flores will talk about coyotes, people and the American West. The talks, which are free, will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the museum on North Cache Street.

Discussions will follow each presentation, hosted by history professor Sherry Smith. To register for the post-presentation discussion email frances@jacksonholehistory.org or call 733-2414. The one-hour presentation is free; the post-presentation discussions cost $10.

Forest NEPA changes are planned

The U.S. Forest Service is seeking to change the criteria for when it engages the public and alter what types of projects will demand a significant environmental review.

Specifically, on June 13 the federal agency proposed a revision to its regulatory obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act, a bedrock environmental law that comes into play anytime significant changes to public land are planned.

The on-the-ground application is that forests like the Bridger-Teton could have more leeway and be less burdened by paperwork when pushing forward on projects. A pitfall is that the public may have less opportunity to sway decisions and less information about planned projects.

The Forest Service’s planned National Environmental Policy Act regulations are open to public comment through Aug. 12. Email any thoughts to nepa-procedures-revision@fs.fed.us.

Run for wilderness set for September

The Wyoming Wilderness Association has organized a competitive trail run that will coincide with the inaugural Wyoming Public Lands Day.

The Sept. 28 Run the Red event has half-marathon and 45- and 120-kilometer options. Routes pass by wilderness study areas and the longest ungulate migration route in the Lower 48 in a scenic high-desert landscape south of the Wind River Range. The event is also sponsored by the National Outdoor Leadership School.

Go to WildWyo.org/run-the-red for information.

— Mike Koshmrl

 

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them for 7 years. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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