A year since the Caribou-Targhee National Forest opened the Grand Targhee Resort Expansion project for scoping comments, community members, organizations, and local governments are wondering what’s next.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement should be released in early 2022.
This summer has broken records for visitation rates, gear sales, and traffic congestion. With it, we’ve seen increased uses on surrounding public lands and pressures on our local infrastructure. As temperatures decline and the first snow of the season dusts mountain tops, we can’t help but wonder, will these trends continue throughout the winter months?
Local residents and county commission on the Teton Valley Idaho side are pondering this question as Grand Targhee resort continues through the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Process. The Idaho County Commission asked their Wyoming counterparts to help fund an additional socio-economic impact study to analyze the cumulative effects of a Targhee expansion; and two recent articles from Ski Mag and the Jackson Hole News&Guide explored the topic of how growth, increased visitation, and rising recreation on public lands due to ski area expansions will impact our area’s community character, wildlife and native habitat, scenic viewshed, and traffic and parking. We are already seeing the landscape changes associated with the Snow King expansion, and we now have the chance to engage and perhaps influence a different outcome for the proposed Grand Targhee expansion.
This time last year the Caribou-Targhee National Forest opened the Grand Targhee 2018 Master Development Plan Projects to the NEPA process, beginning with a public scoping comment period. (To learn more about the NEPA and EIS process, see the consultants’ storymap here.) During the scoping period, 385 comments were submitted to the Forest Service project website, raising concerns ranging from scenic viewshed to socio-economic issues, and traffic and parking to wildlife impacts. Over the last year, SE Group (the consultant hired by the Forest Service to write the EIS) has been analyzing and reviewing the scoping comments and preparing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). We expect the DEIS to be released in early 2022, followed by another public comment period. The DEIS comment period is the most important opportunity for community members to raise concerns not addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement or highlight important issues with the existing draft.
Until the DEIS is released, it’s important to educate yourself on the issues, potential impacts, and project parameters of the proposed expansion so you can be ready to submit an informed and thorough DEIS comment to the Forest Service. If you are interested to learn more about the expansion or want to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.