Kim Trotter, Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) Program Director, recently announced the hiring of two new employees for the purposes of advancing the Y2Y agenda in Montana and Idaho.
Nick Clarke was hired as the High Divide Project Coordinator. His duties will include:
This is the exact same agenda they pushed for in Island Park. Wildlife overpasses are the ruse for wildlife corridors, and connectivity to other protected areas. The map below covers the area Clarke has been assigned to, the High Divide Salmon-Selway-Bitterroot area. Residents in Salmon, Challis, McCall, Riggins, and Grangeville need to be ready, especially Salmon and Challis.
The second hire, Jessie Grossman, will be the Cabinet Purcell Mountain Corridor Project Coordinator. Her coverage area can be seen in the map below.
Ms. Grossman's duties will be the same as Clarke, using the bear as the excuse for connectivity. One huge threat of this agenda is the trans-boundary aspect, fully ignoring the Canadian-US border. Y2Y wants bears and other wildlife to have freedom to "roam" wherever it wants between countries, and remove whatever they think are barriers such as people, development, roads, private property, and land use. "Connecting" the Cabinet-Purcell mountains is the Y2Y objective, not understanding that this land and wildlife are already connected. The folks in Bonners Ferry, Sandpoint, and Ponderay need to be alert to this agenda coming their way.
For both areas, look for transportation projects that propose incorporation of wildlife overpasses, out of the blue "new" local groups that support overpasses, more aggressive pushes for placing land into conservation easements, and public meetings and outreach that intend to influence your thinking that overpasses are the only solution. Don't be afraid to confront them with the real agenda, the truth behind overpasses which is corridor designation and connectivity agendas. Alert your neighbors to the same and educate them. Do not let Y2Y implement their agenda in your area.
Our friends just north of Idaho in Alberta, Canada are fighting off the same Yellowstone 2 Yukon (Y2Y agendas. Perhaps more frustrating for them is that Y2Y funding in Canada is provided by U.S. foundations and corporations!
Just as the Brainerd and Wilburforce foundations fund Y2Y activities here, they also fund the same in Canada, along with the Idaho Wolverine Foundation. Fortunately Canadians who are in the fight the same as us understand that we are against this as well. The Cabinet-Purcell mountains are the transborder target between our countries. Y2Y would love to see our border erased, our land just designated as a place where all wildlife can roam freely while forbidding our use and ability to live in those areas. No respect for sovereignty. This is another atrocious aspect to Y2Y.
Coordination is federal law that requires "federal agencies to resolve policy conflicts with State and local plans, policies, and programs for the purpose of reaching consistency." This means, before any federal activity can proceed, the agency is obligated to meet with local government representatives such as county commissioners, and ensure that whatever activity they are planning must be "consistent" with local land use policies. If not, then the activity must be revised until consistency is reached between policies. Coordination is a "government to government" relationship and these federal laws protect local authority, placing the local government on an equal, not subordinate, position with the federal government. Collaboration, cooperation, consultation, or partnering, words the federal government likes to use to give the appearance of working with local governments, is not Coordination.
Funding for the Hwy 20 road project comes from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Concerns have already been expressed regarding the lack of engagement with the public and county government on the Targhee Pass road project, including the full Hwy 20 transportation corridor. But under federal law, the FHWA, along with the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), should have engaged Fremont County in coordination at the very beginning of the project.
While terms such as cooperation and consultation are used, federal law also includes explicit information on Coordination such as with the BLM (43 CFR 1610.3-1, 43 CFR 1610.3-2). The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) states in 43 US Code 1712, "...to the extent consistent with the laws governing the administration of the public lands, coordinate the land use inventory, planning, and management activities of or for such lands with the land use planning and management programs of...local governments within which the lands are located...", and "...assist in resolving, to the extent practical, inconsistencies between Federal and non-Federal Government plans, and shall provide for meaningful public involvement of State and local government officials, both elected and appointed, in the development of land use programs, land use regulations, and land use decisions for public lands...".
23 CFR 771.111 - Early Coordination, Public Involvement, and Project Development, applies to the FHWA. In section 771.107, the following three definitions apply to the Targhee Pass project:
(b) Action - A highway or transit project proposed for FHWA...funding.
(c) Administration action - The approval by FHWA...of the applicant's request for Federal funds for construction (In our case ITD applied for and received funding from FHWA).
(d) Administration - FHWA...is the designated lead agency for the proposed action (FHWA is the designated lead agency).
Aside from very clear requirements for public involvement, it also states under (h)(v)(A) that a state agency should hold a public hearing and explain, "The project's purpose, need, and consistency with the goals and objectives of any local urban planning." This was never done by ITD, nor did FHWA engage with Fremont County Commissioners for coordination on land use policies to ensure consistency of those plans with the Hwy 20 transportation project.
An example of how coordination was used in transportation is the Trans Texas Corridor transportation project, which was a plan to build a transportation network, or "supercorridor", from Mexico, through the U.S., into Canada. While this project exceeds the size of Targhee Pass, was further into the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements, and involved significant private property rights, coordination was successfully used to discontinue it.
In the Trans Texas Corridor case NEPA law, 42 USC 4331 (NEPA Section 101) was cited. It partly states, "...it is the continuing responsibility of the Federal Government to use all practicable means, consistent with other essential considerations of national policy, to improve and ‘coordinate’ Federal plans, functions, programs, and resources...". This was not done by the FHWA and five Texas mayors, along with school districts, joined together to "...require the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) to coordinate the project with the Commission." The attorney who worked on this case was Fred Kelly Grant, who recently created the Coordination Institute. The history and an explanation of coordination is on his site.
Mr. Grant recently completed a series of five videos on coordination. Below is Video #1. Video #2, #3, #4, and #5 are each about 15 minutes. These videos give insight into his previous cases and how coordination works.
From the beginning of the studies conducted on the Hwy 20 corridor in Island Park to present, no coordination on the project has occurred between the FHWA and local governments. They too, must start over and ensure this project is consistent with land use policies of Fremont County.
There is some confusion that coordination mandates federal actions must adhere to local government land use policies, that county policies must be integrated into federal actions, or that federal actions must be integrated into county land use policies. That is not what coordination requires. Coordination requires that the federal government "shall" achieve "consistency" between federal actions and local policies.
The Targhee Pass transportation project, in its 5 alternatives, involves land and private property, with the most extensive land changes being proposed by wildlife overpasses. FHWA must come to the table with Fremont County Commissioners on coordination before proceeding any further with the Targhee Pass project.
One of the issues brought up in the scoping report comments was the relationship of the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GNLCC) to the Targhee Pass transportation project. In the updated, 2018 Targhee Pass EA Scoping Report, on page 14, there is a basic summary of Department of Interior (DOI) secretarial orders (SO) that are pertinent to the existence of landscape conservation cooperatives, which includes the GNLCC. The report states, "...land use planning and landscape scale conservation/mitigation are beyond the scope of ITD’s mission...", and those SOs are "...are not germane to Federal Highway Administration procedures."
That is interesting. In a 2013 GNLCC newsletter it specifically states, "...MAP-21 is the first national transportation law to weave throughout its programs authority for state, federal and tribal managers, and researchers to reduce the number of motorist collisions with wildlife and improve connectivity among habitats disrupted by roads." The Center For Large Landscape Conservation (CLLC) even provided further clarification on this federal highway law.
Another factor that needs consideration is the relationship Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG) has with the GNLCC. The EA report also states, "The Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s (IDFG) interest in collaborating with ITD as described in the MOU stems from IDFG’s mission to preserve, protect, perpetuate, and manage the fish and wildlife populations of the state." There are actually two MOUs between ITD and IDFG, one in 2015, and the second in 2017. What the report left out was the MOUs state in the 2015 report that IDFG would be responsible for "...increasing wildlife linkage/connectivity/corridors...", and reiterated in the 2017 report, "...provide for wildlife connectivity...", "...facilitate...migration corridors for wildlife...", and "...develop...site specific information...on wildlife crossings...wildlife connectivity and wildlife crossing designs."
This is relevant because IDFG is involved with the GNLCC and its objectives for overpasses. Not only does IDFG partner with GNLCC partner Yellowstone 2 Yukon (Y2Y), IDFG has also received funding from the GNLCC for a Decision Support System project, and other projects. One project was even led by GNLCC member and IDFG employee, Gregg Servheen, the Transboundary Decision Support System to Guide and Implement Conservation, Land Use, Energy, Transportation, and Climate Change Management and Monitoring, which included connectivity.
In summary, IDFG is involved with the GNLCC, there are federal laws that require transportation projects to include wildlife mitigation, the ITD MOUs state the IDFG role is for corridors and connectivity, the GNLCC objectives include wildlife corridors and connectivity, all which makes the GNLCC very "germane" to the Targhee Pass Project.
On September 2-3, 2015 the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GNLCC) held a meeting on their connectivity initiative. The intent at this time was to address invasive species and connectivity across the GNLCC, working across jurisdictional boundaries, and share data. This "framework" also included conservation targets for ecosystems, habitat, and species. The map below is difficult to read but there is a definite focal target in the Island Park area.
Their "conservation outcomes" included conservation easements for key habitats and connectivity zones, road ecology (over & underpasses and fencing), fish passage for connectivity, and wildlife corridors. The wildlife corridor target includes Island Park.
While all of this is pretty clear about their intent to build on connectivity via conservation targets, they also laid out the larger picture for restricted use and banned access.
It is obvious that the longer term goal for overpasses, conservation easements, and wildlife corridors is to restrict use by people. It may sound fluffy and nice to build overpasses for vehicle collision reduction, but if overpasses are built a wildlife corridor declaration will be pursued next, followed by insistence on conservation of that corridor, with eventual full blown banned use.
As described by the GNLCC itself, this is what will happen if any overpasses are built in Island Park.
It is understood that all conservation initiatives and non-governmental organizations (NGO) are attached to Washington D.C., they hob nob together, make their devious plans in partnership, and leave us out.
With the exposure of activity behind the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GNLCC), Yellowstone 2 Yukon (Y2Y), Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC), and others behind the effort to get wildlife overpasses built in Targhee Pass, Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke has now incorporated them into the DOI workforce. The US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and these initiatives partner through the GNLCC, and it is a distinct probability that the DOI was advised of this exposure and investigated it. What better way to solve this exposure problem than to wave a magic wand and create a Secretarial Order (SO) that gives the GNLCC de facto authority to proceed. Even the Greater Yellowstone Coalition understands this.
On February 9, 2018, while attending the Western Conservation and Hunting Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah, Sec. Zinke announced his SO 3362, which is meant to "...improve habitat quality and western big game winter range and migration corridors for antelope, elk, and mule deer."...foster "... collaboration with states and private landowners and facilitates all parties using the best available science to inform development of guidelines that helps ensure that robust big game populations continue to exist."...and "...help establish better migration corridors...". What a bunch of crock. In spite of all the lauding of his accomplishments on the DOI site, Sec. Zinke just pulverized anything positive for Idahoans with this SO.
DOI agencies, USFWS and National Park Service (NPS), give conservation initiatives authority in the GNLCC. One of the primary GNLCC objectives is migration corridors for connectivity. Essentially, Zinke just gave full authority to the GNLCC to continue in spite of the fact he revoked LCCs with SO 3349, which were created by SO 3289, and then advanced with SO 3330. SO 3362 essentially reinstates and expands what he just revoked with SO 3349.
There are several key sections of the SO 3362 that require scrutiny.
Sec. 1 Purpose. This Order directs appropriate bureaus within the Department of the Interior (Department) to work in close partnership with the states of...Idaho...to enhance and improve the quality of...migration corridor habitat on Federal lands...that recognizes state authority to conserve and manage big-game species and respects private property rights.
Our Republic does not include federal partnerships with states, states are sovereign. Nowhere does this SO state that citizens or local governments are involved in these decisions, or those who would be the most impacted by land use changes. Private property is a right and protected by the Fifth Amendment and Idaho law, it is not something that can just be "respected" by a federal agency.
Page two states, "...it is crucial that the Department take action to harmonize State fish and game management and Federal land management of big-game winter range and corridors...if landowners are interested and willing, conservation may occur through voluntary agreements." Translated this means federal policy will become state policy, "harmonize". As a DOI program, the GNLCC is also being used to incorporate their objectives into State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAP), and while landowners may be duped into "voluntary" agreements for conservation, initiatives work to get those conservation land use policies into local comprehensive plans, which will eventually become mandatory.
3c "Within 180 days, develop a proposed categorical exclusion for proposed projects that utilize common practices solely intended to enhance or restore habitat for species such as sage grouse and/or mule deer...". This essentially gives authority to maneuver around NEPA requirements, one of which is public participation.
Sec. 4.a.(1) ...identify an individual to serve as the “Coordinator” for the Department. The Coordinator will work closely with appropriate States, Federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and/or associations to identify active programs focused on...migration corridors. Again there is no citizen or local government involvement and the "and/or associations" is clearly referencing the DOI created GNLCC. This SO cements their authority and now drags in state agencies whose role up to this time has been fairly hidden in the GNLCC.
4.b.(1) With respect to activities at the State level...identify one person...to serve as the Liaison...will schedule a meeting with the respective State fish and wildlife agency...work in close partnership with the State on...migration corridor conservation.
Take note of that "conservation" wording. This is a slip by Zinke, the SO is really targeting land conservation, not improving big game hunting. Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG) already has a wildlife conservation program, one for "landowners", and a Habitat Improvement Program for private land owners. Now a federal "Liaison" will be interfering with these state programs.
4.b.(4) Assess State wildlife agency data regarding wildlife migrations early in the planning process for land use plans and significant project-level actions that bureaus develop.... As previously stated, the goal will be harmonizing federal planning with state planning, we will be living under a federal policy.
4.b.5(iii) working cooperatively with private landowners and State highway departments to achieve permissive fencing measures, including potentially modifying (via smooth wire), removing (if no longer necessary), or seasonally adapting (seasonal lay down) fencing if proven to impede movement of big game through migration corridors;
Zinke just gave the GNLCC and conservation initiatives the authority to continue their camaraderie with ITD for integration of overpasses and fencing, forcing wildlife into different migratory paths, leading to the creation of a corridor.
4.b.5(iv) avoiding development in the most crucial winter range or migration corridors during sensitive seasons;
4.b.5(v) minimizing development that would fragment winter range and primary migration corridors;.
There it is, the truth, the goal is restricting use or banning land development within or adjacent to a migratory corridor.
4.d.(3) Consult with State wildlife agencies and bureaus to ensure land use plans are consistent...to one another along the entire wildlife corridor...where...migration corridors span jurisdictional boundaries.
Zinke is referring to local comprehensive or land use plans, and jurisdictional boundaries includes private property. It is critical that citizens engage with elected officials on comprehensive plans, ensuring no reference is made to corridor protection or conservation. If local land use plans do not reference these then federal policy for corridors and conservation will be inconsistent with local policy and the feds will have more difficulty proceeding with conservation policies until consistency is reached. Coordination is in federal law, written into USFS, BLM, and FHA (23 CFR 774.5) laws, that coordination shall occur between the federal and local governments to ensure consistency between land use policies. It is not consulting, cooperating, or collaborating because coordination puts the local government on an equal footing with the feds, not subordinate. The feds do not like this law, they would like to just mow over local governments and us with their plans, without coordination, The 10th Amendment guarantees this protection for states and its citizens and recently the Idaho Senate addressed the coordination requirement in SJM103.
4.b.5(i) Habitat management goals and associated actions as they are associated with big game winter range and migration corridors;
This statement references the creation of other corridors which can include riparian, biodiversity, or ecosystems, potentially expanding federal control over land use because these habitat types extend from public land into state and private land. An example is his reference to "sagebrush ecosystems...other ecotypes...and sagebrush landscapes". A migration corridor will require other types of corridors to support wildlife. A habitat management example is the Sage Grouse, of which sage brush protection was needed for its habitat. Translated, "Habitat Management" means conservation or protection. Not only will SWAP plans be used as they identify species and habitat of greatest conservation need, but Zinke also plans to use the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) as a mapping tool for land use (4.c.).
The subject of the SO is "Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors". In that title, where does it indicate the SO will "...expand opportunities for big-game hunting by improving priority habitats...". Priority habitats are those typically protected for a game species as in the Sage Grouse example. What is meant by "improved" priority habitats? Corralling wildlife with fencing? Moving all humans and development out of the way? Creating pseudo corridors that already exist and which already cross private property without any problems?
This West Is Our West has an excellent article, written by Clifford C. Nichols, Is Zinke 'Migration Corridors' order the Endangered Species Act on Steroids? His article brings out some other pertinent points on the SO.
Sec. Zinke isn't fooling anyone. His goal is conservation and control over land use. It is appalling that all of this activity is hidden from us and strips us of our "consent of the governed" role. Without any federal law he is sanctioning an expanded, behind the scenes, directive that further erodes our right to local representation and state sovereignty. Sec. Zinke, Idahoans have not given consent to your SO 3362.
For those who have expressed doubt or questioned Y2Y's long term objective regarding more restrictive land use or creation of corridors, they are actively pursuing this in Canmore, Canada by halting land development.
In spite of the developer dedicating a large portion of their project on corridors, fencing, and community education for each development area, this was not enough for Y2Y. They want all development stopped so a study can be conducted on the development project as a whole. Like Island Park, Y2Y interference in local towns has created some divisions in the community.
As indicated in this news report, Y2Y was successful in shutting down this project two months later, and it was all based on a "wildlife corridor".
Make no mistake, if Y2Y gets their way and overpasses are built, their next pursuit will be a declaration of a wildlife corridor, and Island Park citizens will forever lose control over how Island Park lives on. This is Y2Y's true colors, control over land use, dictating how and where we live, and if we will even be allowed to live there when they finish their agenda to control our land.
Throughout this website there is validated documentation that most of the work on the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) Hwy 20 project, so far, has been generated by entities other than local citizens. The true engagement of citizens really did not occur until December, 2016 when an open house was held during a time when the majority of residents were unable to attend.
One of the initial schemes used by Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) to garner support for their overpass agenda was to "start creating quiet coalitions" (Pg 13). In the case of Island Park, the local Master Naturalists, Henry's Fork Foundation, and Henry's Fork Legacy Project were all used to create coalitions for wildlife overpasses, even having them involved in the various wildlife studies. By doing so, Y2Y uses these "coalitions" to project a false guise of collaboration and community support. Many individuals in these groups aren't even year round residents, Island Park is not their home.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Y2Y is partnering with state agencies such as Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG), and others, to exploit transportation projects for their objectives. In fact, their collusion extends all the way from Wyoming, through Idaho, into Canada.
What is really fascinating is that Kim Trotter also makes claims of collaboration by "...getting out ahead of their (ITD) decision-making process to gain public support and influence their plans to include wildlife-friendly changes.” And just exactly where does Ms. Trotter get her statistic that supports the claim, "...one in four accidents are caused by wildlife..." on Hwy 20? Given the manipulative and secret exploits of Y2Y, it is astonishing Ms. Trotter claims, "...it’s essential to engage local voices...". Aside from the secretly created "coalitions", and private meetings with ITD, when did Ms. Trotter ever engage with local Island Park residents about influencing ITD to build overpasses?
For anyone who does not support the Y2Y agenda for overpasses, they are accused of not caring about wildlife. This is intended to elicit feelings of guilt, shame, and self-doubt...and to refrain from voicing their objection. Citizens who oppose wildlife overpasses are more committed to Elk and other wildlife than conservation initiatives. They believe in protecting wildlife and the land from destruction and do not manipulate either for hidden objectives. Stay the course folks.
Our government was created on the foundation of boundaries and local representation. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, the government has enumerated powers and only functions "...from the consent of the governed".
As state employees, IDFG is obligated to perform their duties according to the Idaho Constitution and the U.S. Constitution, which requires consent of the governed. By partnering only with initiatives they are violating this responsibility. Many of the individuals in these groups may own property which they visit a few months out of the year, but they are not residents of Island Park, nor are they Idahoans. IDFG has districts in each part of Idaho. District 6, the Upper Snake Region, covers Island Park. Every state employee working in this District has failed in their duty to inform Island Park residents and involve them in the ITD project from the beginning, instead working with Y2Y. It is not too late to reverse that and begin carrying out their duties from the consent of the governed.
In 2004, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released a document, Securing Protected Areas In The Face of Global Change. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) participated in this report. Some of the issues covered were habitat fragmentation, biodiversity loss, global norms of conduct, and new forms of governance. Protected areas include national parks, wilderness areas, conservation easements, and national monuments. Putting as much land as possible into a protection status for conservation is one goal of the IUCN.
The IUCN keeps a World Database on Protected Areas, and believe there aren't enough. Therefore, their plan is to expand the numbers by "Selecting additional protected areas" with more attention paid "to connectivity and, therefore, to strategies for conservation in landscapes between existing protected areas where people live and work." For Island Park, this means it would be captured as an unprotected area needed for connectivity since it is in close proximity to Yellowstone National Park, and there is a plethora of information on initiatives working on connectivity.
The IUCN also has different ideas on how all of this land is governed. They would love to see the removal of our form of government with governance shifted to "global environmental institutions; non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other institutions of “civil society”; and decentralization of governance."
Another area of focus is influencing legislation to achieve their goals for protected areas. More specifically, Matthew McKinney, who is is Director of the Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Policy (CNREP) at The University of Montana, and a member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), brings IUCN ideology and objectives back to policy makers, your representatives, promoting expansion of protected areas. He is also a Senior Associate at LILP teaching these ideologies to young minds.
On page 143 in the document, Box 4.2 list guidelines the IUCN thinks should be included in legislation. A few of those include: a strategic plan for the national protected area system; a process for enacting policies, laws and regulations; defining management categories, much like what they have; legal processes to establish or modify protected areas and their management categories; policies regarding privately owned lands; delineate roles of national, regional and local government agencies, private landowners and NGOs; define penalties for violations of protected area laws and regulations; establish framework provisions to facilitate co-management of public protected areas by public and private organizations; define legal instruments to facilitate improved stewardship of buffer zones, biological corridors, and other private lands adjacent to and connecting publicly owned protected areas; and establish mechanisms to ensure flows of government funding to implement all provisions of the legislation.
This is what Mr. McKinney is bringing back to our elected officials. A change in the foundation of our government to include regionalism, and network governance over land.
Harvey Locke, member of Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, and Jodi Hilty, President and Chief Scientist at Y2Y, are two other individuals who have ideas on how land in the Island Park area should look, co-authoring "A Wilderness Approach under the World Heritage Convention". It is important to remember that Y2Y is an initiative partner to the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GNLCC) which is a partner to federal agencies that are "setting priorities for or supporting on-the-ground landscape conservation."
Both of these individuals purport the idea that the World Heritage Convention should expand their heritage sites to include "World Heritage Wilderness Complexes". Their idea is that the complex would include a World Heritage site with buffer zones, having connectivity between them, with areas outside of the sites included to provide connectivity and have specific protection policies to assure connectivity is maintained. That would be Island Park and the agenda to use it for connectivity to Yellowstone. Here is the area they think should be included in their World Heritage Wilderness Complexes.
This would inscribe "new wilderness sites to fill gaps on the List" since Yellowstone is already listed as a heritage site and "constitute a logical extension of existing wilderness conservation efforts under the Convention, and enable the Convention to show leadership in connectivity conservation practice."
This Cody News Company article explains it more simply.
These individuals, who are members of the IUCN, have full intent to capture Island Park into some form of conservation by a variety of methods. While wildlife overpasses are seen only as a benign project everyone must realize, and accept, that there are far greater agendas and strategies being discussed to take over Island Park. Overpasses are just one small piece of implementing a full scale takeover on how land is categorized and used.
At the August 30th Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) workshop, the concern regarding the current speed limits was brought up. Two ITD staff were explicit in stating this current Targhee Pass project did not include adjusting the speed limits. They went on to state that it has been shown that higher speed limits are actually safer.
This notion of higher speed limits being safer is based on the supposedly proven fact that no matter what speed limit is set, "human behavior" cannot be changed. The "human" will indeed continue to speed over the limit. The suggestion that if the speed limit was set lower then the "human" would speed above that but be more in line with a lower speed was rejected. According to ITD staff that doesn't work, which isn't necessarily correct. Well if that were true, then why set speed limits at all. Why not set limits to 100 since the "human" ignores the limit anyway?
But the truth is, higher speed limits result in more injuries and deaths. Research proves this, and ITD uses nothing but "best practices" and statistics to validate their decisions. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 2016, "...increases in speed limits over two decades have cost 33,000 lives in the U.S. In 2013 alone, the increases resulted in 1,900 additional deaths...". IIHS also states crashes are more likely because of time it takes to slow down or stop, making collisions more deadly.
Idaho raised the speed limit to 80 mph in 2014. According to ITD's own report in 2015, crashes and injuries increased from that point in time (pgs 9-12). That is just one year of data. There is no association between increased speed limits and crashes? Of course there is. Fatalities increased 16.1%. Their own report states, "...higher average speeds tend to increase the number of fatalities and injuries." Did the two ITD staff even read their own reports?
Another question was raised about methods to thwart excessive speeding. Again, according to ITD, none of them really work, you can't change "human behavior". However, there are more methods used than people realize, radar, laser, VASCAR, aerial, and speed cameras. Statistics show these various methods can be successful. There are cities that use some of these methods, why can't Island Park create a similar ordinance?
In spite of their claim that the Idaho Transportation Board (ITB) sets speed limits, and it takes so much time to do the proper studies for submission to ITB, this is not completely accurate. It is the Idaho state legislature that defines how the ITB performs their duties, and it was the legislature who actually created legislation this year that gave us the ability to increase our speed by 15 mph when passing. Scary thought, from 80 mph to an allowed 95 mph to pass on freeways, or even from 70 mph to 85 mph on highways. The federal government can even play a role in setting speed limits.
ITD has forgotten they are state employees, hired by state departments which were created to represent us. When the community is stating they want slower speed limits it is ITD's obligation to listen and do what is necessary to comply with the citizens, it is not the other way around. Get a clue ITD, research shows higher speed limits are dangerous and certainly do not contribute to reductions in wildlife vehicle collisions or the destruction caused by them. Include lower speed limits in your arsenal of solutions instead of overpasses.
Contact your state representative, the ITD, and both Senate and House Transportation Committees, and advise them that a lower speed limit is requested and needed in Island Park.
Sign the Petition to stop all wildlife overpasses in Island Park on Hwy 20. If you are using a mobile device the link has not been working, please try on a PC, laptop, or iPad. It might also be affected by a weak wifi connection, try again with a stronger connection.