By on December 23, 2014

PROPSFistbumpB-T gets super Super 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Tricia O’Connor will lead the Bridger-Teton National Forest in the right direction for a few reasons. First and foremost, she’s a Yankees fan. The Chenango Forks, New Yorker has also spent the last dozen years in Alaska so she’s used to not seeing the sun for long stretches.

We like the fact that O’Connor knows what it takes to manage large expanses of government land – she filled various capacities at the 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest along the Alaska Panhandle. It’s the nation’s largest national forest.


O’Connor seems to have a track record of sticking around rather than working her way up the USFS ranks until she reaches a coveted desk job in Washington. The BTNF needs stability right now more than ever after the revolving door departures of Jacque Buchanan and Clint Kyhl.

O’Connor begins her new assignment on February 22.

PROPSFistbumpRelease the Kraken 

A major shift in thinking has propelled its way into motion concerning developers’ rights to break ground and get moving on projects that have been mothballed by a double-whammy of economic gloom followed by LDR lassitude.

Frustration with the snail’s pace of the Comp Plan rewrite turned to apathy years ago as public meetings and online participation seemed to wane. Several political candidates turned up the heat on the issue during their campaigns for office. It looks like the message has been finding purchase of late.

Greg Prugh’s trailer park redux was the beginning. Jay Varley’s long-awaited Marriott also was recently approved with the forbidden fourth floor. Fintan Ryan has won his epic battle with the county over his definition of a basement at the old Puzzleface. And now Timber Ridge Academy received zoning approval to operate their Christian school.

The tide is turning. Ahead of LDR revisions, homeowners and developers are getting piecemeal approval of projects from county commissioners and town councilors. Some conservation groups would like to see the process move slower and according to LDR revisions and rezoning. But the newly elected and outgoing political leaders with an agenda are pushing through projects that have sat stalled on the books for too long. Lifting the twice-extended moratorium on the old PRD tool squeaked by with a deadlocked vote and an absent commissioner. For many, it was about time. For Kelly Lockhart, and large landholders like him, it means open space has a better chance for preservation than another extension of the PRD tool might afford.

Lockhart and others who have resisted doing something rash with their land while the PRD sat shelved should be commended. Something far worse could happen with ranchlands in the valley if some kind of development tool isn’t in place and the PRD, as flawed and incompatible with the new Comp Plan as it might be, is at least a method to an end that preserves open space and prevents big box retailers and cookie cutter subdivisions from usurping underutilized cattle country.

Do we need another monster hotel in Jackson? Maybe not, but Varley has waited and sued for the right to put one in. Joe Rice’s hotel will be next. Do we need trailer parks or newer low rent apartments? These questions at least need smart answers. Unleashing the PRD and allowing case-by-case decisions in town is a step in the right direction toward providing some avenue for development.

Now, let’s see if we can add more horse riding facilities and fewer golf courses and hotels.

PROPSFistbumpPooch park plotted  

Dog owners are happy with Town Council’s decision to carve out a half-acre section of Powderhorn Park for canine carousal. It’s a compromise and what looks like another temporary solution to an ongoing need.

Jackson is undeniably a dog town. During the summer it’s easier for owners to get their furry friends out for a leg stretch on adjacent public lands like Cache Creek, Game Creek and Snow King. Winter months are tougher.  With all the parks owned by the town and maintained by Parks and Rec, it’s hard to believe one of them can’t be wholly dedicated to serving dogs. By sheer use, a dog park would get more traffic than a picnic area designed for slackliners and book readers.

The nonprofit PAWS has worked hard to find a space and considering the organization comes with its own seed money ($100K to $300K is usually what’s needed to retrofit a space into dog heaven) it’s difficult to understand why nothing has been done to date.

Karns Meadow would not be an appropriate place. Dogs are hard on wildlife and wetlands. Maybe no more so than a bus garage, though. The fairgrounds appear like the perfect place to accommodate dogs. The area is large enough and already used by horse owners. Adding another user group to the prime real estate that separates east Jackson from west Jackson seems like a smart tactic. and ball fetch.

About Jake Nichols

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