Since adopting the Comprehensive Plan in 2012, our elected representatives and town and county staff have made progress in implementation. Last year alone, they adopted the Integrated Transportation Plan, the Housing Action Plan, and updated Rural Land Development Regulations (LDRs).
While these are significant accomplishments, the FY16-17 Comprehensive Plan Implementation Work Plan (Work Plan) must focus on items that will most effectively achieve the Comprehensive Plan’s vision to, “Preserve and protect the area’s ecosystem in order to ensure a healthy environment, community and economy for current and future generations.” In order to accomplish this goal, the Work Plan should include updates to both the Joint Natural Resource Regulations (NRRs)–which are twenty years old and have been an unaddressed priority for 5 years— and the County Safer for Wildlife Fencing standards this year.
You can read the Alliance comments on the Work Plan here.
Our NRRs were once state of the art, but in the last 20 years, science and resource protection practices have been greatly advanced. When the Comprehensive Plan was adopted, the NRRs were slated to be updated first, as they are the community’s highest priority and foundational to our land use rules. However, other things pushed back the update, and now we have lost five years of better protection. In order to effectively implement our community’s Comprehensive Plan, the NRRs need to be updated now and include Safer for Wildlife Fencing provisions.
In addition, the work plan should include time for planning staff to lead a stakeholder taskforce that would make recommendations about the scope of a potential program to protect open spaces and improve habitat connectivity in Teton County, a program that would directly align with our community’s highest priority in the Comprehensive Plan.
The Comprehensive Plan reflects our community’s vision for a better future. If these items go unaddressed, that vision cannot be advanced. It is important that our elected representatives focus on the stated issues and prioritize items that align with our values and not add items to the work plan that do not.
Our community’s vision of walkable neighborhoods surrounded by protected open space, working agricultural lands, and connected wildlife habitat can be realized if we put the right tools in place. Getting our Natural Resource Regulations right, including Safer for Wildlife Fencing standards, and creating an open space and habitat connectivity taskforce, are opportunities to do just that. Click here to write your elected representatives today to ask that they prioritize the items above that advance our community’s vision as outlined in the Comprehensive Plan.
To learn more, read the Alliance comments on the FY16-17 work plan, the “Best Practices and Recommended Improvements to the Natural Resource Protection Regulations” (summarized here), and the “Recommended Wildlife Safer Fence Standards” (or the Cover Memo here).