Grand Targhee Ski Resort Proposed Expansion (we should see the draft soon…)

Grand Targhee Ski Resort Proposed Expansion (we should see the draft soon…)

After many months of delay, word on the street is that we will see the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) from the Caribou-Targhee National Forest staff analyzing Grand Targhee Resort’s (GTR) proposed expansion on public land sometime in the next few months (for more information on Grand Targhee’s proposals for expansion on 120 acres of private land at the base, see lower down). 

What is the Grand Targhee Proposed Expansion on Public Land?

Grand Targhee Resort is trying to expand into two new areas of the National Forest not currently within their permitted resort boundary – South Bowl and Mono Trees. The Alliance will oppose expansion into both of these areas and you should too. Here’s why: 

Will We Be the Next Vail?

  • South Bowl provides important winter range for bighorn sheep, moose, mule deer, and elk.  This incredible area has also been identified as habitat for three federally listed wildlife species and one federally listed tree species: grizzly bears, Canada lynx,  wolverines, and whitebark pine. South Bowl also abuts the Jedediah Smith Wilderness Area.  A new ski lift development and increased mechanized recreation in the South Bowl area will severely diminish the wilderness character of the Jedediah Smith as well as in neighboring Grand Teton National Park. 

Mono trees, the tree covered slope in the foreground, is another proposed expansion area (photo: Howie Garber)

  • Mono trees proposed expansion is at a lower elevation and would disturb a large slope of closed canopy conifer forest – important winter habitat for moose, elk, and mule deer.  

The proposal includes building additional lifts; enhancing terrain and “improving” roads; developing on-mountain restaurants and amenities such as warming huts, yurts, and restrooms; and significantly increasing lodging and base services. According to Grand Targhee, the resort’s current Comfortable Carrying Capacity (CCC) is approximately 3,000 guests per day. The proposed expansion would more than double its capacity to approximately 6,200 guests per day.  Imagine the environmental impacts of twice as many people at the resort.  Imagine what this will do to traffic on Ski Hill road.  Imagine what this will do to the affordability of housing in Driggs and Victor?

For a deeper dive on why this expansion is a bad idea and the myriad undesirable impacts, read more here, from The Grand Targhee Community Assessment that we put together with Valley Advocates for Responsible Development, Teton Backcountry Alliance, and Winter Wildlands Alliance.

Grand Targhee Proposed Expansion on Private Land       

     In the middle of public lands on which the resort operates, Grand Targhee resort owns 120 acres of private land (that were traded in a deal with the USFS for Squirrel Meadows decades ago, shown in the thin black outline in the image below).  In parallel with their proposed expansion on public land, Grand Targhee Resort is pursuing real-estate development within the privately-owned base area, but approval of those proposals falls under the jurisdiction of Teton County, WY – who greenlighted Targhee’s first phase of new private development with a 3-2 split vote of County Commissioners in May of 2023. The Alliance was opposed to the cabin configuration and the fact that only a 10 foot buffer from the National Forest boundary was allowed for siting some of the cabins – too small a space to adequately provide wildfire defensible space, making it likely that forest will be cleared on public land to protect these private cabins.  The Alliance is following up with the monitoring plan on which the real-estate development was conditioned by the Targhee Master Plan.  Watch this space for more information as it becomes available.

Image from Teton County (WY) Planning Commission Staff Report, January 9, 2023

What has the Alliance Done to date?

The  Alliance has been working for years to oppose Grand Targhee’s expansion.  See below the steps we have taken to oppose GTR’s expansion on both public and private lands. 

Alliance’s work on opposing GTR expansion on public Lands:

  • We helped build a coalition of organizations and individuals:

Alliance’s work on opposing GTR expansion on Private Lands:

What can I do to protect wildlife habitat, wilderness values, and the community character of the Tetons?

  • Make public comments opposed to the expansion once the 90-day comment period is open.
  • Watch this space to find out when the comment period opens and for comment writing assistance.
  • Come to an Alliance sponsored event (there will be one on both sides of the pass) to learn more and be a part of a large community protecting what we love about the Tetons.
  • Recruit your friends to get on our mailing list and to get involved – the best leverage we will have to sway decision makers is collective community voice!
Phone: (307) 733-9417
685 S. Cache St. PO Box 2728
Jackson, Wyoming 83001