Heli NO! earns federal attention
Over the past year, the Alliance, in partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association, increased outreach of our Heli NO! Campaign, with the goal of identifying and assessing the best angles to address the issue of commercial helicopter tours in Jackson Hole.
Analysis of flight records documented a multitude of flights below the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) 2,000-foot altitude recommendation for public lands and in violation of the voluntary agreement signed by the operator to not overfly park lands. The Alliance and NPCA reiterated these findings to the FAA, which initiated an investigation into the low overflights that is ongoing. The recommendations that regulate scenic tours do not hold the authority to enforce flight restrictions over public lands. Herein lies both the crux of this issue and the pressure point to potentially solve it. The Alliance is encouraging the FAA to address this regulatory loophole that permits scenic tour operators to overfly our public lands with impunity with the goal of resolving the issue at its root and securing the protection of our beloved wild places in Jackson Hole and beyond.
Protecting Grand Targhee from massive expansion
In the winter of 2021, our campaign to generate grassroots advocacy for the preservation of the community and wildlife character of Grand Targhee was awarded $25,000 by the Cross Charitable Foundation. This funding has allowed the Alliance to proactively develop educational and outreach materials in anticipation of the release of the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) by the Forest Service on the proposed expansion at Grand Targhee.
Initial review of the project and proposed expansion reveals a number of significant issues and potential impacts, for example: development next to the Jedediah Smith Wilderness and the degradation of the wilderness experience; deterioration of the Teton Canyon and Mill Creek areas; degradation of regional scenic values; threats to public safety, including wildfires and avalanches; and damage to biological resources, including critical wildlife habitat.
The postponed release of the DEIS has also granted us the benefit of time, which we will dedicate to strengthening our outreach strategy and developing content behind the scenes as part of a collaborative non-profit partner group. When the DEIS is released, we and our partners at Valley Advocates for Responsible Development (VARD), Winter Wildlands Alliance (WWA), and Teton Backcountry Alliance (TBCA) will run educational and grassroots campaigns and hold comment letter writing workshops for the public. You can view the full Community Assessment at https://www.grandtargheeca.org/
Photo Credit: Hayden Lynch – check out Hayden’s work in the 2021-2022 Alliance Annual Report!