A series of community workshops looking at solutions to the challenge of balancing the Teton’s bighorn sheep winter habitat with backcountry recreation are scheduled to begin next week in Jackson, Wyo.
The Teton Range Bighorn Sheep Working Group will be holding four workshops “that build on one another to develop community-based recommendations for this issue,” according to a Teton Backcountry Alliance news release. The first of the sessions is planned from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Snow King Resort Grand Teton Ballroom.
The public is invited to the sessions. The first workshop will discuss the history and importance of winter backcountry recreation in the Tetons and the status of bighorn sheep. The isolated herd of bighorn sheep has been under pressure from encroaching non-native mountain goats and increased backcountry winter recreation use.
Biologists who have studied the bighorns in the Tetons will “provide the community with the context and background they need to fully engage on this issue,” the Teton Backcountry Alliance said.
The other sessions are planned for Feb. 20, March 5 and April 9. Those sessions will consider “conceptual solutions,” “geographical solutions” and “what can the agencies pursue?”
After the workshops are completed, the findings will be presented to the appropriate agencies who can then initiate a National Environmental Policy Act proposal and take action.
Coexisting with Teton Range bighorn sheep is one of three major issues backcountry skiers and boarders are wrestling with. The other two being crowding/parking issues on Teton Pass and avalanches caused by backcountry users endangering highway traffic. Any one of these challenges has the potential of curtailing or closing winter backcountry use.
The Teton Range Bighorn Sheep Working Group is being financed by the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, Grand Teton Association, Teton Backcountry Alliance, U.S. Forest Service, Winter Wildlands Alliance and Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation.
For more information, go to www.tetonsheep.org.