TVN Editor: Thank you for the in-depth story about the potential impacts to Teton Valley from Grand Targhee’s expansion. It’s hard to say what can be done about the unprecedented growth Teton Valley’s already experiencing, but we sure don’t need any gasoline poured on the fire, which is what Grand Targhee’s ambitious plans would do.
Grand Targhee Resort owner Geordie Gillett made a number of comments for your article including: “The bulk of what was approved and studied isn’t changed at all—what’s changed is how the mitigation [for housing and conservation] has changed.” What he forgot to mention was how significantly it changed, and how those changes will accelerate growth at the resort and in Teton Valley.
One of the most consequential decisions the TC Wyo Commissioners made regarding Targhee's resort expansion plans was in 2019 when they changed the 2008 conditions of approval. The 2008 conditions required Targhee to make land conservation acquisitions BEFORE any development began. The 2019 Amended Resort Plan, at Mr. Gillett’s request, only requires land conservation to happen AFTER development has begun, and funded by a new real estate excise fee when they sell properties. Targhee conserves nothing up front and makes their real estate buyers pay for the mitigation later on.
That change has significant ramifications. That frees up Targhee to spend all their money on development and little on land protection. It means development will happen faster, and land conservation will only happen AFTER development is well underway. The result will be higher land acquisition prices, fewer quality lands available to conserve and more time lapsed before their mandate of protecting 300 acres of land in Alta is fulfilled.
Allowing mitigation to start AFTER development has begun, is like lighting a fire without any fire control in place, and then trying to fight the fire once the fire is raging.