Letter 2.5.13

By on February 6, 2013

Missing pathway
My family has been fortunate enough to have camped, boated, swam, hiked, and biked throughout Grand Teton National Park. It is my wish that local and visiting families can experience the park as we have, and that the next generation of conservationists can be inspired. The key to getting folks out of their cars, is to provide safe opportunities to do so.

When 13-year-old Gabriella Axelrad was struck and killed by a vehicle while on a commercial bicycle trip in GTNP, we became sure that we could and should do better. When Jeff Poole was tragically killed by a vehicle along north Highway 89, it proved that we have to be continuously diligent and always work hard for safety.

Yes, we have made great strides with the pathway system in our community. Yet there is a seriously unsafe gap that needs to be addressed along the Moose-Wilson Road. People will always want to ride and walk between Moose and the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. Building a park destination that can only be accessed by car is not responsible planning for now or for the future. How can we consciously build a new road in this section in 2016 without building a pathway at the same time?

A world-class loop with a short 3.5-mile section missing is risky business. With a major resort a half mile south of the park boundary where thousands rent bikes, it is illogical to not have a safe, non-motorized route to Moose and the Visitors Center.

We can solve this problem by building a complete pathway along the Moose-Wilson Road. The community has demonstrated strong support by passing each pathway-related SPET vote every election. Additionally, some in the community are pledging to pay for the construction and maintenance. Studies show that this pathway can be built and used with minimal impacts to wildlife, adjacent to an already existing public road. The community is offering the park a solid partnership.

I urge the National Park Service to place public safety and access under one’s own nature-inspired human power as a higher priority. Keep my family, your family, and our guests safe.
– Maggie Gibson, Teton Village

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