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Bighorn Sheep!! Joint Comment Letter & On-line Survey Results

Updated: Jan 23

Dear Friend of TBCA,

June 20, 2022 marked the deadline for submitting comments on the NPS scoping of its Teton Bighorn Sheep Winter Habitat Protection plan. To provide input on the plan, Teton Backcountry Alliance worked with the Teton Climbers’ Coalition, Winter Wildlands Alliance, the Access Fund, and the American Alpine Club to formulate a submission. To inform the letter, we developed and administered an on-line survey for Teton winter backcountry users. A report with the results of that on-line survey is now available.

Links to the comment letter and the on-line survey report are found below:

As we all know, our community of skiers and climbers holds a wide variety of perspectives on what actions are needed to ensure the long-term sustainability of our bighorn sheep. After listening to our community of winter Teton backcountry travelers, we outlined a position that encourages more education and public outreach, more monitoring and research on sheep ecology and human-sheep interactions, and an adaptive management program that involves backcountry users with scientists to periodically review past experience, draw on lessons learned, and modify the plan as needed. We also recommended that high-use backcountry areas be treated differently than low-use areas with respect to the type of closures applied. As well, we communicated comments on specific backcountry traveler routes (ascents and descents) based on what we heard in the survey. We encourage you to read the comment letter and the survey report, especially its many quotes from members of our community.

In the future, the NPS will release its draft assessment, listing alternative actions to be reviewed further. At that time, we (our organizations and you) will have an opportunity to comment again. At that juncture, we plan to convene public meetings so we can discuss the NPS’s alternatives.

In the face of climate change, on-going land-use change, and greater pressures from tourism, our Teton Range is on the verge of an environmental crisis. Working to ensure the long-term survival of Teton bighorn sheep is a small step our community can take to make a difference. We greatly appreciate your support as we work to address Teton bighorn sheep conservation in a way allows for a compatible level of winter wilderness travel.

Happy summer,

Your TBCA Steering Committee: Molly Grove, Peggie De DePasquale, Kim Havell, Gary Kofinas (chair), Josh Metten, Mike Parris, Jay Pistono, Jen Reddy, Thomas Turiano

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