By on April 29, 2015

PROPSFistbumpParty til the cows come home
The decision by county commissioners to grant the Snake River Ranch the right to host up to 23 special events per year on their property was a tough call. Is it a prop or a diss? It might be a little of both, but to take a definitive stance, lets go with prop.

In the diss category, there is the wishy-washy precedent set with the permit. It will pave the way for other large landowners to ask that their shindigs be allowed, potentially transforming Jackson Hole from a cattle-based home of the western cowboy to a Disney Land party spot.

But wait, isnt that already the case? Cows stopped paying the bills a century ago when the JY and Bar BC started pushing dudes under the moniker Dudes winter better than cattle. In fact, dude ranches are now becoming exclusive subdivisions for affluent ranchette buyers.

Still, allowing SRR to get their party on cant sit well with people like Robin Siegfried, whose party planning got shut down in 2012 a decision that has prompted him to put his property on Fish Creek up for sale.

And what of the neighbors of SRR? They bought into an agricultural setting only to see it turned into Coachella. Instead of crickets and the lowing of bovine to fall asleep to they get the Beatles and Beyonce.

Finally, some people harbor resentment toward the Resor family that they seem to get whatever they want when others don’t. The SRA Teton Village master plan, while somewhat arduous, appeared a forgone conclusion at times. The resulting Shooting Star expansion development hit very few snags as well. The Resor family also came off a bit harsh, in this columnists opinion, declaraing that without live events they couldn’t pay the bills and might be forced to sell out to developers. It sounded more like a threat than a balance sheet circumstance.

But in the end, preserving open ranch space in Jackson Hole however unconventional and inventive that might take shape is preferable to dividing 1,300 acres into even more gated communities. If putting up with eight weddings a summer (23 annual events, total) is the deal, our advice is to invest in some noise-canceling headphones or ask for an invite.

DISSTonguePathway of least resistance: Making a federal case of it

Moving with freedom and dexterity is not something one would ordinarily associate with the federal government. Yet, this past week, evidence was presented that showed the feds can and did react quicker to public demands than local government.

The Jackson Town Council waited too long to have a discussion about lifting the winter overnight parking ban in effect from November 1 to April 15. The ban creates a four-hour window (from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m.) for crews to snowplow town streets. Unseasonably warm late winter/early spring conditions have made the ordinance look cumbersome. But flexibility is not exactly big governments strong suit. Its not even in small governments vocabulary, either.

Councilors eventually decided not to move forward with any changes to the towns law books. Bob Lenz, for one, wanted to see more historical weather data. Really? Is it necessary to have Jim Woodmencey give testimony to our esteemed leaders? Why cant the ordinance simply read: Winter parking ban in effect whenever the signs say so? Let Mother Nature call the shots rather than impose a hard-and-fast timeframe.

Thats exactly what U.S. Fish and Wildlife authorities did when they extended the use of the bike and pedestrian pathway on Highway 89, adjacent to the Elk Refuge, last fall. Managers allowed the path to remain open during mild weather conditions since no elk were migrating into the refuge at that time.
Similarly, Refuge managers applied criteria trigger points for an early opening 2,500 head of elk or less would allow the pathway to open before the hard date of May 1. After a count of 1,300 elk on April 21, USFW managers said they would open the pathway eight days earlier than normal. The winter closure came under immediate fire after completion of the pathway. Many residents could not understand how their presence on the pathway could possibly spook elk when heavy traffic in the same vicinity doesn’t. At the very least, mild weather at the change of seasons should prompt refuge managers to allow the path to stay open.

Bike and pedestrian traffic differs from vehicle or even horse-drawn sleighs, refuge managers have assured us. Wildlife managers wish to preserve a natural instinct in the herd that is heavily hunted each fall. USFW reps also stressed their wildlife first mission and asked the public to be patient while they studied the situation. Kudos to them for adjusting the timeframe.

PROPSFistbumpPark floats all boats
A new National Park Service report shows that $421 million was spent in Yellowstone gateway communities in 2014. The cumulative benefit to the local economy was in the neighborhood of $543.7 million.

U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber, along with National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz, conducted the peer-reviewed report. Its welcome news for Teton County.

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