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Fall 2021 TBCA Newsletter

Dear Friend of TBCA, Climatologists tell us it’s going to be a La Niña year, which means we may be receiving the goods! A north wind is blowing. Snow is falling. People skied in October. Yahoo! In anticipation, Teton Backcountry Alliance (TBCA) is gearing up for the snow season. Below are some updates on what is happening in our area and what TBCA is been up to:

A big THANK YOU to all who contributed to TBCA through Old Bill’s: 81 people made generous contributions, which is twice the number of supporters as last year. And with the Community Foundation match, TBCA now has resources to continue its work.

  • The Teton Bighorn Sheep Working Group report was released: Since the release of “RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE TETON BIGHORN SHEEP AND WINTER RECREATION COMMUNITY COLLABORATIVE LEARNING PROCESS,” there has been MUCH news media attention and community discussion (face-to-face and with social media) about the recommendations. You can review the document here. Many of the discussions have been helpful and thought provoking, while others have disseminated misinformation, and dismissed the need for sustaining our bighorn sheep population. We have even heard rants that include ad hominin (i.e. personal) attacks. TBCA understands that there are a wide range of views in the ski community about skier impacts on bighorn sheep. We very much appreciate the effort by the Working Group to convene and facilitate public meetings, make the process inclusive, and produce the report. As winter travelers of the backcountry, we all have a responsibility to be stewards of Teton wildlife. With that goal in mind, we ask that our community think beyond what recommendations are unacceptable and focus on the specific ways agencies and citizens can ensure the long-term sustainability of Teton bighorn sheep. Several thoughtful pieces have been written about the range of options, one by Jed Porter and another by Hadley Hammer. These editorials highlight the question of the formal hard closures vs special management/sensitive use areas with more public education and user stewardship. Decisions on what NPS, WYF&G, and USFS will implement in the future are not finalized. Let’s keep a constructive dialogue going to identify workable solutions to this complex issue.

  • TBCA’s Volunteer Teton Backcountry Ambassador Program is back: With sponsorship from STIO and BCA, and in cooperation with the BTNF and CTNF, TBCA Volunteer Backcountry Ambassadors will be interacting with the public for a second winter. All seven of last year’s ambassadors are returning and TBCA is seeking additional people to serve. TBCA ambassador applications are being accepted until November 15th. Join the team of ambassadors and help make a difference! (Apply here.)

  • Last chance to comment on Shoshone National Forest Travel Plan!!: After a seven-year process, Shoshone National Forest has released its final Draft Travel Management EA, which dictates how over-snow vehicles will be managed on Beartooth Pass and the east side of Togwotee Pass for the next couple decades. Please comment before November 18! Winter Wildlands Alliance has made it easy to comment on the EA here. Here are a few simple comments to make:

    • OSV use closures should begin on April 30 or earlier, not June 15 to protect wildlife, landscape, and non-motorized recreation

    • The SNF plan for snowmobile use in High Lakes Wilderness Study Area near Beartooth Pass must comply with the Wyoming Wilderness Act

    • No new motorized routes, especially near Wilderness, given SNF's stated inability to enforce regulations

    • The comment period on this EA is only 30 days...inappropriately short

  • TBCA will offer Citizen’s Snow Safety Clinics this winter: In partnership with Yöstmark Backcountry Tours, TBCA is pleased to offer a series of Snow Safety Clinics this winter at the TBCA Coal Creek Beacon Park. The clinics will be held in December and January. The clinics are NOT intended to replace a full avy training course, but will provide affordable/accessible opportunities for individuals to brush up on their beacon search skills and avalanche training. Courses will be capped at 20 people maximum and online registration will be available on a first come first serve basis. Personal equipment will be required for all courses (beacon, probe, shovel, etc.). Lead instructor for the clinics will be Lynne Wolfe, long-time local guide, instructor, and editor of The Avalanche Review. Details on the clinics and registration will be distributed in the coming weeks.

  • Targhee Expansion: The plans for expanding operations at Grand Targhee Resort are moving forward and we anticipate that the Draft EIS will be released this winter. TBCA’s focus is on possible direct and indirect impacts to wildlife, backcountry skiing, and the overall wilderness qualities of Teton Canyon. Teton County, Idaho Board of County Commissioners is planning to hold a public information meeting on Dec 15 to raise public awareness of what is proposed. Public engagement in this issue is critical to an outcome that preserves the wildlife and wildness of Teton Canyon.

  • Teton Pass FLAP Grant: Last spring, through a multi-organizational and multi-agency effort that included TBCA, Teton County, Wyoming was awarded a $300,000 grant from the Federal Land Access Program (FLAP) to begin planning efforts that will go toward improving transportation, outdoor recreation access, and wildlife conservation on Teton Pass. The “Comprehensive Teton Pass Corridor Plan” is currently underway and provides an opportunity to examine year-round needs for the area from the Wyoming/Idaho state line to Wilson. The planning team has started the process by interviewing stakeholder organizations, and plans to follow up with more public consultations in the future. TBCA awaits details from the planners on what comes next.

  • The 7th Annual WYSAW - held Oct. 22-23, 2021: Teton County Search and Rescue Foundation, in partnership with the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center, held its 7th Annual Wyoming Snow and Avalanche Workshop on October 22-23, 2021. For those who could not attend, videos of the presentations are posted here.

  • Coal Creek Beacon Park Returning: The Coal Creek Beacon Park will be installed again this year. TBCA thanks you for contributions that allowed TBCA to buy the park equipment, and Backcountry Access for making the equipment available. Recovery time is critical to survival in the avalanche game. We encourage you to stop by and sharpen your single- and multiple-victim search skills.

Have fun and please be safe this fall. Thank you! Peggie DePasquale, Molly Grove, Kim Havell, Gary Kofinas (chair), Mike Parris, Jay Pistono, Josh Metten, Jen Reddy, Tom Turiano - Your TBCS Steering Committee

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