Years of focused efforts, collaboration, and community dedication is paying off. This week Teton County and the Town of Jackson elected officials voted to include a $10 million wildlife crossing measure on the ballot of the upcoming Special Purpose Excise Tax (SPET) election.
GYC has worked with our local partners at the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance and the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation, elected officials, and other community leaders to ensure this measure was included on the ballot. Thank you to all involved and we commend our elected officials for recognizing our top community priorities and acting to find solutions, not only for wildlife, but also for the safety of our families and community.
Teton County and our community values wildlife and protecting our ecosystem. Wildlife, our public lands, and our wild waterways are the bedrock of this community and economy, and this measure sets a precedent as it will be the first time citizens will have had the chance to vote for conservation and wildlife in the SPET election. By ensuring a wildlife crossing measure on this November’s SPET ballot, we can allocate community dollars to fund wildlife crossing structures and mitigation efforts, and in doing so, increase the safety of our roads for both wildlife and humans.
Residents will be able to vote for – or against - any or all of 10 projects, totaling $77 million, on November’s SPET ballot. As a member of this community, all of these projects have merit on their own. I myself enjoy having timely snowplowing and utilizing public transit, I take my daughter to swim at the Recreation Center and without affordable housing I wouldn’t be able to do the work that I’m lucky enough to be doing on behalf of all of our wildlife. All of these projects are worthy and a vote for wildlife crossings doesn’t mean a vote against another project. I hope voters go into this election with an open mind on each and every project, but as an advocate for wildlife crossings, GYC is particularly invested in making sure the wildlife crossings measure passes along with our conservation partners.
If the wildlife crossing measure is approved, $10 million will be used to address needed wildlife crossing projects such as underpasses, fencing, and animal detection systems as prioritized by the Teton County Wildlife Crossings Master Plan as adopted by the County in 2018. Likely projects include the area adjacent to the Snake River Bridge at the intersection of Hwy 22/390, where moose collisions have become the norm, and the Camp creek near Hoback canyon, where annually elk hit on their migrations. It will also support planning efforts and short-term mitigation that can be started immediately.
What’s next? The citizens of Teton County now have the unique opportunity to put our money where our values are and vote to directly and positively reduce the stress put on wildlife from development. We believe this measure will receive strong, bipartisan support from our community and are prepared to dedicated staff, time, and resources to ensure this wildlife crossing measure will pass in November.
From now until November 5th, we will be working with our partners to reach out to voters and educate them on the significance and need for wildlife crossings in our community. If you have any questions about wildlife crossings, please get in touch and I will be happy to chat with you.
— Chris Colligan, Wildlife Program Coordinator