Thank you for reading the website and commenting on the wildlife overpass issue at Targhee Pass and in Island Park. The eventual goal of these overpasses is for corridors for connectivity and private land will be used for linkage between those corridors for that purpose. With that will come restrictive land use regulations. It is very important that those who truly love Island Park never allow this to happen.
Please share this website and the Petition with others and stay engaged with us on this issue.
This is a rebuttal to an article published in the Rexburg Standard Journal on February 14, 2018 regarding wildlife overpasses at Targhee Pass. This rebuttal was originally published in the Island Park News on February 22, 2018 and is reprinted with permission.
The controversy surrounding Targhee Pass goes beyond wildlife overpass costs. Overpasses are the first step for wildlife corridor designation used for connectivity to Yellowstone Park (YP), a protected area. Once designated, the declaration will be made that it too needs protection, leading to more restrictive, or even banned use. These are controversies along with the cost.
Ms. Bjerke’s calculations are incorrect on the ITD Environmental Report (EA). In Section B, comments 29-55 were copies which ITD counts as 1, leaving 76, 55 positive, 18 neutral (no opinion for or against overpasses or just questions), and 3 negative. Section C were 44 positive, 30 neutral, and 9 negative. Section D maps were 7 positive, 2 negative, and 7 neutral comments. Section E listed 211 comments with 144 copies counted as 1, leaving a more accurate count of 67, 38 positive, 18 negative, and 11 neutral. Her claim that 95% were positive is not accurate.
Representative Hanks and all legislators are responsible for spending tax dollars responsibly, never stating she opposes safe roads. The Cramer study stated overpasses require more restricted access, and Elk are more reluctant to use overpasses near “human activity”. A residential area and popular stopover for tourists, Howard Springs, is located in the vicinity of these proposed overpasses, enough human activity to thwart Elk from using them.
Wildlife vehicle collisions (WVC) are concerning but Ms. Bjerke needs to cite her source on statistics. It cannot be concluded that an animal on the side of the road is the result of a WVC. There is no consistency between data on WVC, and using the one driver’s experience is not a statistic. An 09’ Idaho Fish and Game study determined the primary cause of Elk mortality is predatory activity, not WVC. Generalizing collision studies in other areas and states to Targhee Pass is misleading.
Ms. Bjerke cites overpasses being successful in other states, however those overpasses are not located in a similar geographical area as Targhee Pass. They are located in flat, non-wetland, non-historical, and non-populated areas such as the one she pointed out, Trapper’s Point.
These facts were omitted by Ms. Bjerke. Elk migrate during low tourist seasons, in April-May, and Oct-Nov. Elk do not cross in Targhee Pass, rather south of there, requiring miles of fencing to force them towards the overpasses, changing their natural migration. Studies show bottlenecking Elk towards a confined area increases predatory activity and an invitation for increased invasive species.
It isn’t just about cost, it is about protecting Targhee Pass, Island Park, people, and Elk. There are more alternatives to reduce WVC than an overpass and ITD is giving little consideration to them because of their involvement with conservation initiatives over public opinion. Over 1,100 people who love Island Park have signed a petition opposing overpasses. Those are the facts.
Thank you for your thoughtful comments regarding the facts on the overpasses and the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD).
You are correct that there is a very low incident of overall collisions in the Targhee Pass area. In addition, the data from different sources all conflict with each other.
Looking at the efforts for public input also leads to your conclusion that ITD did very little to engage and properly include Island Park residents, nor was there full disclosure of what the Targhee Pass proposal was actually about which was for as many as three overpasses. As you point out, the exclusion of many other alternatives for reduction of collisions has been blatantly ignored, and excluded.
Like you and so many others in Island Park, there is no debate that the wildlife is loved by all, not just the Elk, but all animals who live in this blessed area. Yes, it is insulting to hear the implication that this sentiment is not held by those who oppose wildlife overpasses.
Your suggestions and ideas are worthwhile, full notification of meetings for all property owners and general public is an area ITD has failed to accomplish. Reduction of speed limits and cutting back trees are also two noteworthy alternatives supported by research and deserve stronger consideration, especially as alternatives. Also, Idaho transportation dollars are to be spent on roads and bridges and as you suggest there are many other less costly alternatives rather than building overpasses for animals as a solution.
The end of the ITD comment period is September 30, 2017. You are highly encouraged to submit your concerns and recommendations to:
There is a larger constituency in Island Park that do not support wildlife overpasses than ITD realizes. Share your comments and concerns with them and encourage them to submit comments to ITD as well.
Thank you again for your support and recognition of the facts.
Reporter Bryan Clark posted an article in the Idaho Falls Post Register on September 18 regarding US 20 and proposed wildlife overpasses at Targhee Pass (TP) in Island Park (IP).
In his article Mr. Clark made claims which were not accurate. A rebuttal has been written regarding his inaccuracies and can be found on the Gem State Patriot website. Readers are encouraged to keep an open mind regarding all aspects of wildlife overpasses and utilize the opportunity to conduct their own research which will invalidate the information Mr. Clark claims is in the articles. The six part series can also be read on this website under articles.
It is understood that the information being provided by this website is new to the reader. The concept of overpasses and protecting wildlife has been heavily promoted in the IP area for some time. This website offers the opportunity for a more comprehensive understanding regarding overpasses and the associated activities that come with them. Corridors, connectivity, linkage, the GNLCC and their partners, none of this information was ever offered to the IP community but is indeed very much a part of the overpass issue. IP has the right to understand the information that has not been presented to them, that is all this website was created for, to give that information to the public for understanding the full issue. The request is only asking that everyone has an open mind to understand the full picture. This page was created to give everyone an opportunity to see what comments are being submitted and the responses to them. A kind individual submitted these comments, the name has been removed to protect their privacy.
Who are you?
We are a library for research and information on IP.
I don't see any names on this website.
The information and research comes from many individuals.
I'd like to know who is supporting this endeavor.
This is a library and research site. Links are posted that lead to information about the safe wildlife passage structures, wildlife corridor creation and their accompanying land impacts, the wildlife conservation organizations that support the concept, and the larger organizations that are behind it both regionally and nationally.
The opinion articles you have listed on the IP Focus page have no names.
The opinion articles have been published in local newspapers. Their informational content is re-publishd here (in part) with the authors permission.
I'd like to know who wrote those articles.
As stated some articles have been published in local papers. It is our goal to bring information to the public and encourage readers to research the links in the library and articles.
It is not true that the Island Park community has not had a voice.
It is true. There have been no public meetings on the topic of WVC, the studies, or overpasses during the time they were being researched. There has been only 2 information station workshop opportunities. That is not, and does not qualify for the required public participation. Intent - purpose - and need have not been discussed and the IP community has not had the opportunity to be involved in any planning processes up to 'the reveal' of the overpass initiative at the end July workshop. Even the Fremont County Commissioners have stated the same. Individuals and groups that have been involved in this activity that have led up to and support this initiative have been at work in Island Park for at least the last 4 years, without the community knowing about the intent of their study or the purpose (end goal) behind it, nor have we been informed of the true intent of the collection of all of this analysis.
There were meetings last summer and I certainly knew about this road project prior to Oct 2016.
You are an exception and might be a participant in the under-published and undisclosed studies. Were any attempts made to engage and inform the IP community about this information and what would be brought forward as an initiative that would change Targhee Pass and surrounding lands? The overpass initiative, activity, and studies just recently revealed were not fully disclosed and leads to the conclusion that those engaged in it knew it would not be embraced by the IP community. It gives an appearance of secrecy, the information kept by those who were involved among themselves.
There are have been many opportunities to make your voice heard to IDT.
There have been 2 public workshops, the first in December, poorly advertised and held on a blizzard condition day. Certainly December, right before Christmas, is not an opportune time for the larger IP community to be able to have an opportunity to attend? The April meeting was cancelled, finally held in July. The public comment periods have also been held to the minimum and poorly advertised as well. Please revisit the required public participation information we have introduced here, and then compare it to what has happened so far.
I think it is wrong to state that you are not being heard.
We have not, and state so most emphatically. Having researched NEPA, FHA, and ITD, all state that public involvement starts at the beginning from when a proposed action is being considered. The IP community was never notified that ITD was considering reconstruction of US 20 4 years ago. That is where it started, and the IP voice has continued to be left out up to December, 2016. There was no involvement in any activity by the IP community as a whole, but only be select groups and individuals.
And lastly, what do you have against wildlife?
We have nothing against wildlife and indeed respect the many and abundant species we have here, as unique and special to the fabric of Island Park.
Do you not understand that without connectivity the wildlife will end up in pockets of habitat and will not have the ability to breed outside of the small group and the health of our wildlife will suffer?
We are very well informed and have quite a complex understanding of everything involved here. Please provide a source or studies to your information specific to IP. Where does connectivity not now exist? Where have species demonstrated inbreeding in IP or are in danger of inbreeding-pocketed existence? Are there any specific instances of unhealthy and suffering wildlife here? Since "connectivity" has not been declared up to this point, how have the wildlife continued to survive up to this point?
Why can't you support sharing our land with animals with the intent of preserving this heritage?
We most certainly do, and have shared the land with wildlife for generations in IP. Creating an overpass and applying a name to an area where animals have always existed does not change the fact that without those two items the animals have survived without them for generations.
I just don't get it.
That is understandable and the very reason this website was created, to provide validated information for a more comprehensive understanding of this issue.
It feels like you are ok with more and more animals being killed on our highways and risking our lives as well.
The question might need to be asked, should a comparative study be conducted from 1960 to present to see if indeed more animals are involved in WVC? How one feels about something sometimes removes objectivity about a subject. The true facts are important. There are also multiple discrepancies between data that is published on the number of WVC. Wildlife risk their lives, live their lives, are born, live, thrive, decline, and perish through many benefits and conflicts in nature. While every WVC is unfortunate for both driver and animal, the mortality rates in Island Park do not even rate in the top 15 for highest priority areas in the state of Idaho. Moose, Deer, and Elk suffer higher mortality rates due to predatory activity by wolves, as identified by an IDFG 09' study. A single wolf will eat on average 2 ungulate species per-month. In a single month a wolf pack will kill more animals than have been lost on our highway in the last 5 years. The high death rate from predatory activity is a reality that hasn't been addressed.
I find it very strange the way you paint connectivity like it was communism, or alien invaders.
There has been nothing written or posted about communism or invaders. This website merely attempts to provide validated information that the NGOs, initiatives, and individuals all work towards connectivity which begins with overpasses. It is important for IP residents to understand this has been left out of the conversation and that it is part of the drive for overpasses.
There is plenty of space for ATVs and snow machines.
There have been no remarks on this site about space for ATVs and snow machines.
What can't we share a bit of space for our wildlife?
We already do.