According to the local “Stay Wild” tourism merchandising marketing campaign, Jackson Hole is “a place wherein you could cross days without seeing some other soul. But you may cross a day without strolling into an elk.”
While I am possibly to stumble upon several souls on a given day, I doubt the boosters intended it actually once they counseled our chance of jogging into an elk. We do so with regularity. In 2018, 49 elks, 20 moose, and one zero five mule deer had been hit by cars on our roadways, and that’s likely a low determine as many deaths pass unreported, and some animals stroll into the woods to die unseen.
The chart below, courtesy of Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation, shows a fashion that transcends differences in wintry weather severity and snowpack from year to 12 months – extra humans on the highways.
It appears we’re on a collision course with flora and fauna in JH, and no longer only within the sense of actual collisions with automobiles. When asked how we can scale back the terrible results of increase in our network and our wildlife, many locals say the high-quality aspect we can do is prevent selling the place. That horse is lengthy out of the barn. It’s no wonder to people who live right here that the Greater Yellowstone area has grown to be a hot spot for international tourism. This is not going to change whenever quickly.
According to the these days posted United Nations biodiversity record, the carbon footprint from tourism rose 40 percentage between 2009 and 2013. Given the growth in tourism from Asia since then, one has to count on that the forty percent has been brought to inside the past six years.
We have a considerate and civic-minded city council and county commission looking to grapple with dozens of issues related to increasing, but they work at pass purposes with the tourism board. We have a two percentage lodging tax that might be used for mitigating the effects of tourism and development on the natural world, but the bulk of the earnings is going some place else.
While citizens have been bought on approving this lodging tax through promises of spending some of it on something except tourism, I don’t see it inside the numbers above.
In addition to journeying, human beings additionally need to live here. Infill in the town of Jackson is accomplishing a galloping tempo. As denser housing and massive industrial homes growth, I have long gone are the vacant lots and small homes with massive yards. Snow is now trucked to the few open spaces left in town, the fairgrounds in particular, wherein the pile rivals Snow King Mountain and doesn’t soften till after Memorial Day.
Now, at the same time as enhancements were made to the rodeo grounds, a horse arena has been constructed, and a brand new truthful constructing is underneath production, there is communicate approximately moving the fairgrounds faraway from metropolis (making anybody force farther, adding to traffic congestion and losing fuel and additionally endangering flora and fauna for the reason that rodeo and different night occasions give up properly past dusk) in order to construct greater in-town housing.
We are making choices based totally on an urgent want without time to take into account the long term results. Where do we unload the snow in the future? A new fairgrounds miles south of metropolis? Teton Pass?
Housing for all of the personnel our growing enterprise region requires is a serious problem and has been for some time. But so-called workable housing charges ordinarily over $300,000 to shop for and $3,000/month to lease. I doubt the sales clerks and lodge maids earn wages that make these costs workable.
Much of the worker housing we used to have is long past – modest flats converted to condos, maximum in-city campgrounds lengthy long past, a small collection of mobile houses rezoned to permit a Marriot to be built in its place, and on-site employee housing at Teton Village, removed years ago for high-cease condos. At least Ski Corp personnel now have a condominium complicated in town, but they have to go back and forth to work.
Meanwhile, renters are faced with ever-growing month-to-month bills and often should depart due to the fact they could’t find the money for to stay.
Homeowners are pushed out by rising belongings taxes and a desire to escape the noise and crowding in Jackson. The result: over 7,100 people go back and forth day by day from outlying regions as some distance as 50 miles away.
While lots appropriate paintings are being accomplished by way of the community to lessen our impact at the county’s plentiful flora and fauna, I’m now not sure it’s far enough to make a difference over the long term, assuming modern growth traits maintain — more visitors method other roads, more full roads, and consumption of open area for parking.