Our board of county commissioners is sponsoring two important meetings in the next month. Both deal with problems our commissioners are asking our input on. These meetings are about our future as a livable, rural, agricultural community. These meetings address very real problems and ugly futures.

The meeting on Tuesday November 30 is called the Teton River Recreation Management Charrette. This Zoom meeting is limited to 100 participants.

The Teton River is being overused. A simple sentence, a simple meaning—but how did we get to this point must be asked along with how do we cure the problem. The charrette announcement says it will offer a discussion of “concern over the increase in recreational impacts on the river ecosystem and user experience.”

Let’s face it, the Teton River is able to be called a “river” because it has a sustained flow, it is really a wide creek. For decades it has been a great community asset for those of us living in Teton Valley. Swimming, floating, fishing. Solitude.

Then those wishing to profit from taking folks to the river and more moved in. Imagine our county staffer Rob Marin’s reaction when someone called him up and said his group wanted to float 200 persons on the river one evening last summer. Thankfully Rob said “no.”

Imagine if you and your family or friends had planned a float that night and the place had been chock full with floatation devices and folks out for a night’s “partay.” Your evening for which you pay lots in property taxes and fees to live here and to enjoy our county amenities would be toast.

The second meeting, dealing with the proposed expansion of the Grand Targhee Resort will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday December 15. Participation in this meeting will be by both Zoom (500 participants) and in-person by Zoom in the commissioners’ room at the courthouse. The latter is a welcome addition for those who do not do Zoom. Please be seated before 6 p.m.

The first hour of the 12/15 meeting will be presentations on the details of the proposed ski area expansion, on housing, infrastructure and the like. The second hour will be for questions to be asked by participants.

Have your older children and teens watch this meeting as well. We’re hearing that some of the teens think this proposed expansion will be great. Kindly take them skiing to Park City or Breckenridge or Vail and let them experience the constant 20 to 30 minute lift lines at those resorts. Then show them real estate listings in these areas and explain if Grand Targhee is expanded to a size with more lifts than Jackson Hole Mountain Resort that they should never plan on living in this county in the future. First will be the prohibitive cost of purchasing a home and then will come the wildly higher property taxes and fees for a home. And frankly, our valley will become another faceless resort filled with second homes empty for most of the year. Any sense of community and place will be gone forever.

Geordie Gillett is now scheduled to participate. You might ask your teens to ask him what a lift ticket will cost in the years to come.

Grand Targhee sits in the southwest corner of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. After learning of the proposed elements (lifts, acreage expansion into the National Forest, housing) that the Gillett family is asking for, you will surely ask these questions. How will this expansion affect wildlife? How will it affect the Jed-Smith Wilderness and Grand Teton National Park? How will it affect our dark skies?

Just as the Teton River is an ecosystem, so too is our valley. So other questions to ask on December 15 are how will our county roads handle all the increased traffic? Is there enough water and septic capabilities to handle more housing? How many of our farms and ranches will be turned into subdivisions? How high will our taxes and fees go to cover all the additional costs this proposed expansion will foist on us? We must speak up now to protect our future.

The realities and future of our very livable rural, agricultural valley depends on our voices on November 30 and December 15.