By on November 11, 2014

DISSTongueDouble whammy park pinch

Park officials are shopping the idea of hitting visitors twice on their way to see Yogi Bear. Gate fees would also increase. The price of a seven-day pass would double and the annual $50 pass would jump to $60. The kick in the teeth, however, is the plan to separate Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks into two individual attractions. This means visitors to Yellowstone would get hit up twice if they arrived through Teton park via the south entrance.

For starters, a greedy plan like this one stands to hurt Jackson Hole most of all. A Yellowstone arrival via Cody’s east entrance, the west entrance at West Yellowstone’s or northern entries at Gardiner and Cooke City might look more inviting to tourists in cost-saving mode. Jackson will already gouge them for room and board. Why pay more money on top of that just for the pleasure of passing beneath the shadow of the Tetons?

Secondly, Grand Teton and Yellowstone have a unique relationship. The adjacent national parks (let’s not pretend the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway is really anything but an extension of Grand Teton National Park) have a long-standing precedent of honoring each other’s entrance fees. Locals, and some tourists, utilize one independent of the other but the majority of the annual 3 million-plus visitors wouldn’t know whether they were in Teton, Yellowstone or the parkway at any given moment.

The fee hike is one thing, but tacking on the onerous burden of separate park fees is too much.

PROPSFistbumpUnbearable bruin ruin

Is it any wonder an offspring of the photogenic Grizzly 610 and descendent of the mother of all photo ops, 399, got himself into trouble? The first year of being booted from the clan is tough on subadults. They wander in search of their own territory and usually get chased off and knocked around by bigger, badder grizzlies.

Grizzly 760 found an area to his liking that reminded him of his Grand Teton upbringing. Plenty of automobile traffic and humans on Teton Village Road near the Aspens made him feel right at home. This columnist ran into 760 (nearly literally) while jogging on the dike one day. He wasn’t overtly fazed by my presence, as was his character all along, and he did not show aggression.

But 760 learned some bad habits from mom, as did she from the sow that begat her. Hanging out at roadsides in the 310,000-acre park seemed like a win-win for all. Aggressive male griz were avoided and lazy paparazzi were rewarded with an Ursus Arctos Horribilis family to Instagram from the comfort of their Jeep Grand Cherokees. It turned out to be a lose-lose.

The daily conditioning to human traffic spelled the bear’s demise. Being comfortable around people is the first step toward getting too comfortable with people, and when you’re talking about a quarter ton of grizzly, getting familiar can spell danger. Learning that humans posed no threat to him, Griz 760 chose to habitate in residential neighborhoods and help himself to human-related food rewards. It’s not surprising given his cubhood. Relocation didn’t work. Authorities regrettably did the right thing. Shameful shutterbugs share some of the blame.

PROPSFistbumpDisneyland needs Mickey Mice

For a few weeks now, we’ve been hearing and reading about how the county is overly dependent on low-paying touristy schlep jobs. The fear is we are becoming a place where only the rich can live and visit. The allegations made by many interested in reversing this supposed trend is that the people who attend to the needs of the aforementioned will have nowhere to live. But is the problem that bad?

A recent report by the state’s economics division indicated that a third of county employees work at jobs related to the tourism industry. Jobs like waiters and hotel maids. Given that the county’s number-one industry is admittedly tourism, is it a startling fact to learn that a third of the jobs here are within that industry.

Yes, the county has a big worry on its hands figuring out where all these employees will live. Yes, these employees are not paid terrifically and the trend is an overall wage reduction. These unavoidable facts are driven by the free market and corrected by the free market with minimal assistance from government.

The county can continue its attempts to diversify the economy and should. But we can’t keep proudly calling ourselves a tourist destination and then turn around and wonder why all these low-paying service industry jobs keep popping up. The problem may not be as dire as it’s painted to be. The solutions are there if we try hard enough to find them.

About Jake Nichols

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