SPET Funding for Wildlife Crossings in Teton County

Over the past decade, Greater Yellowstone Coalition and the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance have worked together to conserve wildlife and create safe highways by helping to get wildlife crossings built on Wyoming roads. New wildlife crossings installed on Highway 89/189 just south of Jackson is one example of recent success. And now that Town and County elected officials have voted to include a wildlife crossing measure on the 2019 SPET ballot, voters have the unique opportunity to allocate community dollars to fund wildlife crossing structures and mitigation efforts. GYC and the Alliance worked with our local partner organizations, elected officials, and community leaders to ensure this measure was included on the ballot, and have launched a coalition to pass the measure November 5th. 

The Specific Purpose Excise Tax (SPET) is an optional, voter approved 1 percent sales tax paid by visitors and residents on most goods and services (excluding unprepared food) purchased within the county. The funds allow local government and public entities to construct community facilities, infrastructure, or amenities that would otherwise require other sources of revenue such as bonds or increased property tax.

A bull moose tries to cross near the road near Jackson, Wyoming. (Photo Josh Metten.)

A bull moose tries to cross near the road near Jackson, Wyoming. (Photo Josh Metten.)

why should you care?

Teton County has made great strides toward building a system of wildlife crossings around Jackson Hole. One of the biggest advancements was the completion and adoption of the Teton County Wildlife Crossings Master Plan last summer. That plan identifies “hot spots” in the county and prioritizes those areas for future crossings. The master plan provides us with a road map forward as we plan a systematic network of wildlife crossings in Teton County that will make our roads safer for our families and wildlife. 

Now it is time for our community to effectively and efficiently implement and fund the actions within the master plan. By voting for wildlife crossings on the November SPET ballot we can allocate local dollars to fund wildlife crossing structures and mitigation efforts and, in doing so, increase the safety of our roads for wildlife and humans.

Wildlife crossing facts

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Researchers have estimated that the average cost of a deer-vehicle collision is $8,190, and elk-vehicle collision is $25,319, and a moose-vehicle collision is $44,546 in U.S. dollars (2018) (Hujser et al. 2009). In Wyoming, 1 in 5 collisions involve wildlife, 1 in 50 collisions with injuries involve wildlife, and 1 in 100 fatal collisions involve wildlife.

Studies have shown that, properly sited wildlife crossing structures can pay for themselves where situated along highways that, on average, experience an average Five or more collisions between motorists and deer per mile per year, two or more collisions with elk per mile per year, or one or more collisions with moose per mile per year.

In Wyoming, Montana, and Canada, wildlife crossings have reduced wildlife-vehicle collisions by nearly 90%.

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about spet

It is important to realize that residents can vote “yes” or “no” on each of the SPET measures on the ballot. Measures need a majority vote to pass, and all measures can pass. 

Early/absentee voting begins September 26 and the official voting day is November 5, 2019.

Two bull elk enjoying the morning sun. (Photo Cindy Goeddel.)

Two bull elk enjoying the morning sun. (Photo Cindy Goeddel.)

what can i do to help?

  1. VOTE on november 5, 2019!! now is the time to make sure you’re registered to vote.

2. Write an opinion piece for the jackson hole news and guide or buckrail about spet funding for wildlife crossings. email communications associate mac dukart for help getting started.

3. keep your teton county friends and family informed about spet funding for wildlife crossings.

4. want to get more involved with the grassroots efforts? contact ryan nourai at the jackson hole conservation alliance via email or (307) 733-9417.

wildlife crossings events

Check back soon for wildlife crossing events!

A mother grizzly and her cubs crossing a busy road. (Photo Len Trout.)

A mother grizzly and her cubs crossing a busy road. (Photo Len Trout.)

media coverage

“10 SPET projects won’t be bundled” - Jackson Hole News & Guide - July 17, 2019

“How will the moose cross the road?” - Jackson Hole News & Guide - July 3, 2019

“Let’s build wildlife crossings so Jackson Hole moose can cross the highway” - Jackson Hole News & Guide (opinion piece) - June 12, 2019

“Wildlife crossing advocates expected to crash SPET talks today” - Buckrail - June 3, 2019