The Stilson redevelopment continues to generate questions, opinions and confusion. The creation of a transportation hub in an area where wildlife have traveled through a wildlife corridor studied and been concerned about for years.
The North-South wildlife corridor along the Snake River has been a critical transit area for elk, moose and other ungulates – as demonstrated by the studies of collared animals – for . That corridor provides permeability along the Snake River for wildlife that move seasonally (e.g., elk) or simply for food and to access feeding areas and solitude (Moose). Highway 22 has been a consistent challenge. Some of the ungulates have crossed 22 near the river channel, while others brave the transit across the busy highway.
The County has invested over $1million for wildlife crossing underpasses under 22 to support the corridor. One of these underpasses will open into Stilson.
Unfortunately, Wyoming Game and Fish – and the Alliance – remain concerned about the placement of the crossings due to the Resort’s development proposals in Stilson. Locally generated research cited by WG&F indicates that wildlife corridors – especially corridors requiring underpasses – require 200 meters (roughly 600 feet) in width to be used by ungulates. The Resort states that their corridor will provide only 140 feet on one side, and 100 feet on the other – a fraction of what is required by wildlife to utilize the corridor.
The Resort is also proposing admittedly needed workforce housing adjacent to the planned corridor, increasing traffic and constant human presence adjacent to the critical corridor. But in making this a trade-off between housing and a critical wildlife corridor, the Resort is giving the community a fool’s bargain. It needn’t be so.
We encourage the Resort to sit down with the wildlife experts and the community to find a solution that can create housing for the community – perhaps north of the currently planned project – and widen the wildlife corridor to serve the needs of critical and iconic wildlife.
A corridor in name only serves neither.