The Alliance Policy Agenda
The Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance’s goals in 2019-2020
Our long-term vision
Jackson Hole is a national model of a strong community living in balance with nature. Abundant populations of wildlife have the freedom to roam across the landscape and through our neighborhoods, and safely cross our roads. We live in walkable neighborhoods with accessible transportation choices and affordable places to live surrounded by protected open space, working agricultural lands, and connected wildlife habitat. And we respect wildlife when we recreate on protected, wild, well-managed public lands.
Our 2019-2020 goals
- Pass funding for safe wildlife crossings on the November 2019 SPET ballot
- Ensure responsible development on Snow King
- Adopt world-class county & town natural resource protections
- Establish a dedicated public funding source for conservation
- Scenario planning: visualize the future of Jackson Hole based on different growth policy choices
- Keep public lands public and protected
- Adopt county-wide conservation goals, monitoring, and increased staffing
- Focus growth in our existing developed footprint, instead of in open space
- Adopt a town historic preservation ordinance and incentives
- Build an active and civically engaged community
1. Pass funding for safe wildlife crossings on the November 2019 SPET ballot
Wildlife crossings work! The County recently adopted the Wildlife Crossings Master Plan, highlighting priority locations for crossing structures across the county. With the plan adopted, it is now time to put a significant wildlife crossings measure on the next SPET ballot in November so that our voters can act on our community value of protecting wildlife.
2. Ensure responsible development on Snow King
We want Snow King to succeed as our Town Hill, not an amusement park, and believe that development can occur in balance with protecting wildlife habitat and community character. In order to protect the wildlife that depends on the public land on which Snow King operates, the Forest Service should just say no to any expansion of boundaries or footprint into wildlife habitat.
3. Adopt world-class county & town natural resource protections
We are proud to serve on the county’s stakeholder group tasked with developing new natural resource protections, and want to get them adopted in 2019. This includes an expanded requirement for bear-proof trash cans in order to prevent needless bear deaths, updated wildlife-friendly fencing requirements on residential properties, and work with agricultural operators to find voluntary incentives to protect important migration and movement routes. Then, the town should adopt new natural resources protections in 2020, with a focus on protecting bears and water quality.
4. Establish a dedicated public funding source for conservation
To quote the 2012 Comprehensive Plan: “The community should explore the establishment of a dedicated funding source for conservation easements and other measures that protect the wildlife habitat, habitat connections, and scenery valued by the community. Critical habitat, habitat connections and scenic viewsheds are often located on valuable private land. A dedicated funding source would allow the Town and County to work with conservation groups and private land owners to permanently protect from development and actively steward lands valuable to the community. The funding source could also be leveraged for wildlife protection efforts such as wildlife highway crossings in the Town and County.” (Policy 1.4.d)
Our community should create this dedicated funding source and obtain voter approval if needed in 2020. This could be a general penny of sales tax (also funding other community priorities), an impact fee on development, or from other sources. We should also establish a transparent way to spend the funds, including stewardship incentives for landowners.
5. Scenario planning: visualize the future of Jackson Hole based on different growth policy choices
Our community faces difficult choices in planning, development, wildlife management, and public investment. Can Jackson Hole become a national model for a community living in balance with nature while remaining a true community, not just a resort destination? Can we plan a future in which we achieve sometimes-conflicting Comprehensive Plan goals: where we both protect wildlife habitat and build enough workforce housing for 65% of our workers to live in our valley? Building on proven scenario planning models like Gallatin 2050 and Envision Utah, the “Conservation 2040” scenario planning project will display and analyze growth scenarios and their impacts through a combination of GIS-based visualization and numerical analysis. This will help inform development plans and policy decisions to ensure a balanced future for Jackson Hole. We aim to launch this project with partners in 2019-2020.
6. Keep public lands public and protected
Our county is comprised of 97% public land that contributes significantly to our economy and our quality of life. As threats to our public lands persist, we need elected representatives that will continue to value and protect the wild places that sustain life in Teton County. We are part of the Keep it Public, WY coalition to prevent bad state legislation to seize or transfer public land. We support efforts to promote responsible recreation through educational campaigns (like Don’t Poach the Powder) and additional protection of critical wildlife habitat.
Building on the work of the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative (WPLI) Teton County committee, the Forest Service should protect wild lands by permanently removing industrial extractive uses in Teton County (drilling, logging, mining, new roads) and balancing conservation and recreation in the Bridger-Teton Forest Plan revision or federal legislation.
Additionally, the Bureau of Land Management is interested in transferring a number of parcels to county ownership and management, and the county should ensure that any land transfer prioritizes protecting natural resource values. Parcels 9/10 may also be an appropriate location for piloting a cottonwood flooding project, necessary to the health of the Snake River riparian complex.
7. Adopt county-wide conservation goals, monitoring, and staffing
Our Comprehensive Plan vision to “protect and preserve the area’s ecosystem” is bold and visionary. To ensure that we adequately live up to this vision, we are working with conservation partners to define goals for wildlife, open space, waterways, and other ecosystem indicators. Then the town and county should insert and adopt concrete, measurable conservation goals in the Comprehensive Plan and Indicator Reports.
The Comprehensive Plan also calls for a cumulative impact study (Policy 1.1.e and Strategy 1.1.S.3): “Through the Natural Resource Technical Advisory Board, the Town and County will gather the baseline information needed to create and implement a system to monitor the impacts of growth and development on wildlife, wildlife habitat, and wildlife mobility over time.” We encourage this work in coordination with the Teton Conservation District.
We are grateful for the work that county staff do on behalf of our ecosystem. However, there is no staff position focused on natural resources or conservation. Additionally, there is no staffing for the Teton County Scenic Preserve Trust (TCSPT), which is an important public complement to the excellent private work of the Jackson Hole Land Trust. The county had both of these positions until the Great Recession in 2008. We have been out of the recession for many years now, and our development market is very hot. The county should bring back these positions and their capacity to protect our wildlife, their habitat, and the health of our ecosystem.
8. Focus growth in our existing developed footprint, instead of in open space
The county should direct growth out of rural areas into walkable neighborhoods through zoning changes, updates to land development regulations, tools that shift growth, and other incentives. We should reject proposals to upzone or develop in greenfields (like Hog Island) unless they are models of responsible planning and good design, and include significant transfers of development rights (TDR) from higher-value habitat. We should implement a TDR policy more generally and proactively. And we will resist state legislative efforts to overrule local decisions.
9. Adopt a town historic preservation ordinance and incentives
Our community character is also our unique sense of place, which includes our historic buildings, community spaces, and local businesses. All of these are increasingly under threat from speculative commercial and hotel development. Local restaurants close and are replaced with banks, while families’ affordable homes are bulldozed and replaced by high-end condos or four-story corporate hotels. The identity we sell to our visitors is “the last of the Old West” – let’s be true to that slogan. Many peer communities have adopted historic preservation ordinances with a combination of smart regulation and incentives. As “the last of the Old West,” we can too. The town should support the Historic Preservation Board in crafting an ordinance, and adopt it in 2019 – including incentives and funding to protect the places we love.
10. Build an active and civically engaged community
We want all of Teton County to be represented in our democratic process: this means more people from underrepresented communities (youth, women, Latina/os) will vote, join appointed boards and commissions, and run for elected office. We also aim to increase voter turnout in relevant ballot measures.