By on February 3, 2015

PROPSFistbumpNational Park (at your) Service 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – In celebration of their 100-year anniversary, National Park System officials are hoping to get a bump in funding from Washington. President Obama’s record-setting budget calls for $3 billion allocated to NPS in 2016 – a $433 million increase over the current annual budget.

Everyone wants to rein in spending, of course, but money spent on national parks is almost always a sound investment. Consider Yellowstone. According to YNP spokesperson Al Nash, America’s first national park operated with a $34 million budget last year. Every dollar spent brought back more than 10 in tourist spending in communities adjacent to Yellowstone – some $380 million. A recent economic impact study concluded 5,300 jobs are created locally to support tourism around Yellowstone.

And what does NPS do with the dough? Clean up after your trailer park ass. Spray paint vandalism was removed from the “Shane cabin” after it was discovered back in September. The dilapidated building once served as the homestead for Luther Taylor and was later featured in the 1953 movie Shane. The historic old cabin has survived all Mother Nature could throw at it for nearly a century. Taylor built it in 1923.




GRTE Luther Cabin, before, during and after clean up by the park employees. (Photo: National Park Service)

It only took one yahoo to disrespect Taylor’s legacy and cost taxpayers more money. A 92-year-old bunkhouse is nothing compared to Anasazi petroglyphs and the like, which are regularly defamed by punks with paint for no other reason than boredom. The image painted on the inside wall of the Shane cabin in the Gros Ventre was a “black and blue spray-painted depiction of a devilish creature wearing a crown,” according to NPS officials. Devilish, indeed.

PROPSFistbumpFour story and seven years ago 

What is the big deal about the dreaded fourth floor that makes it so taboo in Jackson? It has become symbolic of a line we will cross on our way toward selling our soul. Once four-story buildings go up, then come the homeless, haze and heroin – all signs we’ve lost that small town, Rocky Mountain Way.

A four-story building no more means urban blight than a four-lane highway or a four-star hotel. Aggregately it all spells a slow march toward sprawl, crime, and other big city problems but many a quaint small city has managed to get vertical in their downtown without bloating its byways.

Town as heart. If we buy in that means packing people into a vibrant, walkable core around Town Square. The Forest Service property is a perfect place to once again practice spot zoning. It certainly can no longer be classified as rural. If developer SR Mills wants to leapfrog Urban Residential for a denser zoning he should be granted a shot. Anything within walking distance of downtown should get zoning that allows for some height.

The single-family homes surrounding denser, lower income housing sounds like a good model. Available housing is still a serious issue. Mills is one of those developers who will do right by the town. It beats an IMAX or a Target.

DISSTongueBuying Broadway 

The Town of Jackson’s consideration of wresting from state control the section of Highway 89 within city limits might be a good idea if only the town also gained management rights to the stretch of highway.

WyDOT has been painfully slow to react to the town’s efforts to make changes along Broadway. Redesign of the five-way was held up on state highway department approval. Proposed pathways and a restructure of the Highway 22 junction are also belabored by slow-moving state officials who own and manage right-of-ways to the extent that Larry Pardee’s crew aren’t even allowed to mow the weeds on the traffic island in front of Cutties.

Agreeing to plow and repatch the town’s main thoroughfare in exchange for some traffic data doesn’t appear to be a decent trade. Pressure on WyDOT director John Cox could just as easily be applied through state channels. The DOT may be difficult to work with at times but we shouldn’t have to be held hostage over traffic analysis.

The section of Highway 89 within city limits state and town are battling. (Photo: Google Maps)

The section of Highway 89 within city limits state and town are battling. (Photo: Google Maps)

And how important is this traffic data? Anecdotal evidence of the commuter crawl is available every Friday at 5:15 p.m. Deer death data can be gleaned 12 hours later at 5:15 a.m. when lifeless mulie carcasses are dragged from the bloodstained median.

It would be nice to be able to set speed limits and create wildlife crossings without permission from Big Brother but it probably isn’t worth the hassle and expense of actually owning the asphalt.

About Jake Nichols

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