By on August 27, 2013


82813propsGame & Fish talk a good game   PROP

The Wyoming Department of Game & Fish has a legitimate concern regarding its incredibly shrinking budget. If Wyomingites truly treasure their wildlife, and the revenue stream stemming from hunting, fishing and sightseeing opportunities tied to this state’s natural resources, they should encourage legislators to fund the agency appropriately. And they did on Tuesday morning at a special budget crisis meeting with the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee.

Long-term survival of Game & Fish depends on broadening its funding sources. Agency heads have repeatedly been told, and finally recognize, it seems, they cannot continue to fund their operation solely on the money people pay to kill, stuff and mount the critters they are charged with stewarding. The agency’s proposal to jack the price of hunting tags and fishing licenses was rightly rejected by the legislation during last session. During a time when hunters are on the decrease, asking more of sportsmen willing to cull the herd is too much.

What Game & Fish now is pitching to legislators is a desire for a cut of the money generated by ecological tourism. Groups like the Sierra Club have estimated the state’s revenue generated from tourists who travel to specifically to see or photograph wildlife to be in the billions. It’s time for state lawmakers to acknowledge the rising cost of keeping Wyoming’s world-class wildlife in velvet.

 Game & Fish go fish   DISS

If Game & Fish wants to come hat-in-hand to state lawmakers, they should choose a venue other than Teton County. They’ll never get a fair shake here and probably don’t deserve one.

Agency officials should have anticipated how their witch-hunt against Jason Jones of Teton Raptor Center was going to play out in the headlines. They should have at least recognized the blowback from their stubborn, full-court press on behalf of warden Bill Long toward a pointless case against the director of a beloved local institution, whose day job entails inspiring and educating the public (mostly children) about the birds of prey they encounter every day in Wyoming. What has Game & Fish done to promote eagles, hawks and osprey?

Every time I read a news article detailing the “he-said, she-said” between Jones and Long I thought, “Who cares whether Jones had permits for half of his birds or most of his birds or eight of his birds?” Figure it out and move on. Go solve a poaching case, for cryin’ out loud. We often hear about some meth-head roughneck trying out his new AR-18 on a herd of pronghorn, or a self-entitled rancher shotgunning a bald eagle for eating trout out of his stocked pond, or a dumbshit County 4 hunter who can’t tell the difference between park and forest or bull and cow. Find these sonsabitches and prosecute the bejeezus out of them instead of hounding a guy heading a program established for the good of raptors.

 County cop out on cell towers   DISS

The county moratorium on cell towers is the easy way out and only delays a possible solution to Jackson Hole’s pitiful cell coverage. Heavy hitters AT&T and Verizon are looking for potential sites to build their towers after receiving word from Forest Service officials that they are getting the boot from Squaw Creek at the end of the year.

New cell towers are about the least sexiest sell in the world. Everyone wants five bars, but no one is willing to live with the eyesore of the 110-foot tower needed to make that happen. Further logistical hardships in Teton County include the headaches of trying to get blanket coverage in bumpy terrain. Carriers like Union Wireless are opting for shorter (35 to 55 feet) towers, but more of them.

These microtowers will be popping up on school grounds or other public properties, because heaven forbid a tower go up anywhere near someone’s backyard. That prospect freaked out county commissioners, who would be charged with helping residents swallow one or two big sticks.

Slapping a moratorium on cell towers is tabling the issue. Commissioners are elected and get paid to make decisions, so make them. Get educated and vote. “Moratorium” is a scary word to wireless carriers. They just may decide to take their LTE and 4G somewhere else. And commissioner Ben Ellis is failing to see the big picture when he claims cell service is not an economic driver for the county.

“People come here not because of the cell service, but because of the Tetons,” Ellis was quoted as saying. Maybe so, but they expect certain core amenities when they arrive, and decent cell coverage is as common a creature comfort as clean sheets or 110-volt power.

Speaking of the Tetons, who does Verizon need to butter up to get a tower on the top of one of them?

About Jake Nichols

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