By on November 22, 2016
Is Snow King headed down a similar path as the Budge Drive landslide? (Photo: Youtube)

Is Snow King headed down a similar path as the Budge Drive landslide? (Photo: Youtube)

JH Watchdog

JACKSON HOLE, WY – I received 1,812 votes, but fell short of victory in my run for Jackson Town Council. I’m disappointed in the outcome, but I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to campaign and advocate for common sense solutions to our housing and traffic problems that don’t require blank check tax increases and that don’t require working people to provide subsidies for the private business sector. The concerns and hopes we share about the future of our community were always the real focus of my campaign, not my own personal success or failure. I’m hopeful that in spite of my loss at the polls the ideas and principles I espouse will continue to advance and gain traction.

I very much appreciate all the folks who donated money and sent good wishes to my campaign. I hope you feel that I represented you well. Congratulations to Jim, and Hailey, and best wishes to Jessica. I enjoyed discussing the issues with you all at the candidate forums. Our interactions were always cordial, respectful, and actually pretty darn fun!

I was the only town council candidate who opposed the 1 percent General Revenue Sales and Use Tax increase, and I’m proud that the community resoundingly rejected the tax increase on election night. Now we can continue to fund our community priorities using SPET with direct voter input and oversight, and keep our tax rate at a reasonable 6 percent. We will all need to stay vigilant to make sure that the town council doesn’t attempt to circumvent this clearly stated will of the people.

My love for our town and my concern that we tackle our challenges fairly and effectively will keep me involved in the planning and political scene. It’s up to all of us to stay involved and hold government accountable. My alter ego for local politics is JH Watchdog. Please join me there to continue the conversation!

– Judd Grossman
Jackson, WY

Keep up the Resistance

Thank you, Planet JH, for a great issue [Resistance is not Futile, Nov. 16] about the situation we are now in because of the election. The Editor’s Note is spot-on. Standing with you.

 – Anpeytu L. Raben
Jackson, WY

Closing the Divide

I have quietly sobbed and loudly bawled many tears for our children, and lost sleep trying to wrap my head around the results of the presidential election. And I have heard a lot of awesome positivity and optimism from fellow Hillary supporters who are right when they evoke Ghandi:

We can be the change we want to see in the world, we are powerful, and the majority of Americans are not hateful people. We can be the moral compass for our children. We can enact positive change in our communities and protect our most marginalized populations on a local level. We can donate to progressive organizations that fight for equality and our environment.

I am looking for silver linings. At first I’ll admit I couldn’t see any. But what if this great American tragedy is the kick in the butt that we need to actually engage in the civic process? To stand up for racial justice? To choose a cause and put some energy into an effort that reflects our ideals? A wellspring of grassroots activism could be a very powerful force.

On a personal level, this result has laid bare my privilege. It has shaken me to the core. My privilege and my surroundings (physical and digital) have distorted my understanding of reality in this nation. My upbringing and my education told me this result was not possible. And I was so wrong. I am not alone here. We were wrong. We are at a loss that there are so many Americans who gave Trump (and all the ugliness that he stands for) legitimacy. We thought America would reject it. (When all the conservative newspapers rejected him as unfit and we heard about Republican after Republican who was going to vote country over party, it was hard not to.) The polls told us Clinton was favored and we believed them. We thought Hillary could win in a landslide. We were over confident that rationality would prevail and America would elect the most qualified for the job. We thought that our nation was ready for their first female president, and it didn’t occur to us that sexism could be the last word.

And so we grieve this result because we were naive that we have not come as far as we thought. We are embarrassed that we didn’t see it coming, and we are ignorant and/or apathetic to the struggles of Middle America. We are in pain that our nation is so divided, and we are in pain that good Americans cast their vote for Trump not because of his hateful platform but in spite of it, as a protest against the status quo. (Perhaps they too believed Clinton would win regardless, and we wouldn’t be stuck in this place we are now?)

But here we are. And now it’s our job to find out why the nation didn’t reject hate and learn how to change the tide—to fight like hell to protect the marginalized and our planet, who need a voice louder than ever.

And of course we can all hope that Trump conducts himself with a newfound decency and decorum that the presidency demands, chooses competent people to run the executive branch, and that our institutions prevent the unraveling of the hard work of the Obama administration and those before him.

I will not be hardened. Hillary is an inspiration to me. She has persevered and handled this most unexpected result with utmost grace and dignity. She will continue to fight for us and be a role model for women and girls. As a woman and mother, I have so much gratitude for her path.

– Meg Posey Scott
Seattle, WA

Snow King Slide?

Remember when the Budge Drive landslide was national news? This summer, local residents approved the usage of $6M in tax revenue to fix a portion of it to ensure public safety. This small landslide can be considered just a minor threat compared to the road system planned for Snow King Mountain, which has a steeper grade and soils that are likely much more prone to a landslide than East Gros Ventre Butte. There is visual evidence of the earthen sloughs that eroded from the ridges and gullies to form various knolls, like the one that the Snow King Resort Hotel sits on.

The proposed wide road will cut through about a mile’s worth of the face of Snow King, cutting through the upper starting zones, middle faces, and right beneath some of the steepest shots on the mountain.

Will this new and wider road be engineered well enough to support an entire mountain? Will it be stable enough to support heavy machinery such as cement trucks, excavators, haul trucks, and concrete pumping cranes? Could the snowmaking pipes eventually become leaky and contribute to a landslide? Will the increased weight of an artificial snowpack and constant freeze/thaw cycles contribute to erosion problems? Could a forest fire contribute to a sudden loss of water retention in the soils? Will expensive mitigation projects such as rockfall fencing and cement retaining walls become a major liability for the ski area, and become an eyesore to the backdrop of Jackson?

This road would likely be Phase 1 of the years-long construction project, and would be done first in order to facilitate building the gondola and large restaurant, and will definitely close down the mountain to all summer users and have a huge price tag. There are many reasons why the historical service road goes up Leeks Canyon on the backside, and the current road on the front side, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps for hikers, horses, and skiers would be mostly obliterated and backfilled. It will take many years for fresh scars to disappear, and possibly decades for the forest to conceal a new road.

One of the reasons that Free Snow King is advocating for an aerial tram is to avoid the need for this road. A tram would help facilitate the construction of a restaurant (JHMR’s tram can carry a snowcat beneath it) and could be installed in just one summer with the usage of helicopters, similar to how the new Rafferty lift was built in just a few weeks without needing a road. The tram’s span might only require one tower, and would be a more iconic lift to the top, full of camaraderie for the four-minute ride. It might even be less costly to construct, and will not require a storage facility that is required for all of the gondola cabins.

A new lift to the summit should be the highest priority for Snow King Mountain, and just the scenic ride alone will bring more visitors and revenue to the Town Hill, and likely outperform the $37 summer tram ride over at JHMR. A tram could have been built already under the terms of “categorical exclusion,” and would not have required the multi-year process of undergoing an environmental analysis.

The BTNF should be extremely hesitant to approve this project and the boundary expansion, which will require a costly and extensive process to study the issues of erosion and avalanches (and definitely wildlife), while guaranteeing the safety for public users, future construction, and the private lands beneath. Maybe the proposed road would be more likely to be approved at a narrower scale, and designated for recreational use only, with exceptions for certain mountain operations that require ATV usage.

Another key issue and major hurdle for future construction is the current road system on their private lands, which contains some tight switchbacks and grades well above 20 percent that will access the proposed 12 percent grade service road. It is unknown how any repairs could be made to this bottom portion of their access road, since all possible alternative routes are now obstructed by the Cowboy Coaster. This problem should be addressed by a new and revised Resort District Master Plan, which is long overdue and will likely be required as Step 1 for Phase 2. The Town of Jackson should require the same protocol that the BTNF would require for road design and construction.

Is a new service road to the summit truly feasible and necessary? Could a tram be the answer? Could the Rafferty Area be improved to offer an ideal area for beginners instead?

– Shane Rothman/Free Snow King
Jackson, WY

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