On May 24, 2018, Dist 35 Rep. Karey Hanks, and the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), hosted a legislative meeting at the ITD District 6 office in Rigby regarding the Targhee Pass Project. Below is a copy of the meeting notes.
Also, below is a copy of the letter sent by ITD to the Fremont County Commissioners and Big Horn Hills Estate regarding a speed reduction extension request that has been denied twice.
In the May 24, 2018 edition of the West Yellowstone Star, there was a large article on the Targhee Pass project. After describing all of the alternatives, the article proceeded to explain that Montana citizens "...would be welcome to submit comments..." on the project, as well as "...accepting feedback, from anyone, anywhere. including West Yellowstone and surrounding areas." Andrea Gumm also stated more "...coordination with the town (West Yellowstone) would be forthcoming". This is supposedly occurring upon the completion of the impact analysis, also know as the Environmental Assessment. The article could no longer be found on the website.
How can citizens outside of Idaho be legally involved in a project if they don't live in Idaho? How desperate is the Idaho Transportation Department? What gives them the authority to go into other states for recruitment of citizens for comments on a project that belongs only to the state of Idaho?
Lee Gagner is the Idaho Transportation Board Member for District 6. Contact him here and let him know that only Idahoans are authorized to give comments on the Targhee Pass.
The Background Of Collaboration
This article provides more precise information about the previous article, Was There Collaboration Prior To The EA, the collaboration between ITD and IDFG with some organizations, the lack of federal coordination with local elected representatives, and lack of involvement by the impact population prior to the Environmental Assessment (EA)...and exactly when did the EA begin?
ITD announced the Targhee Pass Project (TPP) at the end of November 2016, holding the first of 3 informational meetings beginning in December of 2016.
The foundational studies that support the alternative solutions being offered began in 2011. The ITD EcoLogical lead adopter and incentives FHWA grant began in 2013. The Cramer report, Safety Solutions for Wildlife Vehicle Collisions on Idaho’s US 20 and SH 87, was published in 2016, and the MOU between ITD and IDFG was signed in 2015.
BioWest became involved in 2013 with the EcoLogical grant award and developed the IPlan. BioWest was also involved in the 2016 Cramer recommendations report. BioWest is now running the TPP EA.
Langdon's involvement began in 2014, facilitating workshops between IDFG and ITD that produced their 2015 MOU to implement EcoLogical. Langdon wrote the MOU and is now facilitating the TPP.
Renee Seidler, former Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) researcher, is now a contract employee with IDFG in the position of transportation specialist for Hwy 20. Her salary is paid by ITD, the monies first being passed from the federal government to the Wildlife Management Institute, to ITD, and then to IDFG. Part of her role is to serve as a conduit between the two state agencies and her employment was an addendum to the joint ITD/IDFG MOU.
The WCS has been involved in multiple studies in our region. Ms. Seidler has successfully worked to bring wildlife overpasses for Pronghorn to Wyoming and she has conducted wolverine research in Montana and Idaho. Her name is on the maps in the c4llc letter attached in the previous article. In her role as the transportation specialist for the TPP, Ms. Seidler is the person who prepared the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) grant application which was not submitted. That application was seeking funding for a wildlife overpass and associated fencing. NFWF previously gave funding to the Wyoming overpass project she was involved in.
Important Background to understand WHO submitted the following letters:
The Center for Large Landscape Conservation (C4LLC) and Yellowstone 2 Yukon, are both members of Montanans for Safe Wildlife Passage and jointly submitted the letter titled c4llc attached in the previous article to ITD in support of the safety solutions recommendations while the draft ITIP planning was being developed for the HWY 20 corridor statewide.
Quote from the c4llc letter:
“We are an informal coalition of organizations interested in improving passage for wildlife and aquatic species in Idaho. Our organizations cooperatively advocate for innovative solutions to improve and/or maintain habitat connectivity across roads and provide safe passage for people, fish, and wildlife through research, mapping, monitoring, policy work, and on-the-ground projects.”
While statewide mitigations at locations are mentioned, the c4llc letter focuses on IP and Project #14504. Multiple comments are specific in that letter and endorse the Cramer recommendations for the Island Park section. While the letter is dated July 2016, the Cramer report was not even published until the following October.
Quote from the c4llc letter:
“Project 14054. Several of our organizations were invited to a meeting with ITD’s District 6 to review a draft of Dr. Patricia C. Cramer’s forthcoming report, “Idaho Wildlife Connectivity and Safety Solutions on US 20 and SH 87,” which identifies the stretch of US-20 from mileposts 402 to 406 as one of the largest hotspots on US-20 with regards to wildlife-vehicle collisions per mile per year. This four-mile stretch of US-20 is an area of known ecological importance for grizzlies and wolverines..”.
The c4llc letter also encourages ITD to use the Great Northern Large Conservation Cooperative (GNLCC) data atlas. Gregg Servheen, IDFG, Gary Tabor, co-founder of Y2Y and the Executive director of C4LCC, and Michael Whitfield from Heart of the Rockies and the founder of Teton Regional Land Trust, all sat on the GNLCC steering committee at the time of this letter.
Tracing information on the Henrys Fork Legacy Project (HFLP) attached letter in the previous article, the source website link goes to Future West. The HFLP site shows no other activity besides the safe wildlife passage campaign in Island Park. It lists as partners, the BLM, Future West, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, the Henry’s Fork Foundation, IDFG, ID Parks and Recreation, Teton Regional Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, the USFS, Y2Y and the WCS. The HFLP is also associated with some members of the Idaho MasterNaturalists who helped launch the ‘flagship’ safe wildlife passage initiative at Harriman State Park over the July 4th weekend, 2016. The first announcement of Y2Y’s interest in Hwy 20 in Island Park can be traced to January, 2016. The campaign chairperson for this initiative is Kim Trotter, US Director of Y2Y.
Both letters are from groups that partner with each other, Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y), the Henry's Fork Legacy Project (HFLP) and Center For Large Landscape Conservation(CLLC) in the pro-advocacy for wildlife overpass mitigation solutions. ITD collaborated with these groups prior to when the EA was started in October, 2016, after the ITD Environmental Evaluation determined an EA need to be completed (End of Appendix A) .
While researching how many letters were submitted during ITIP for comments on the Hwy20 Project #14504 for Targhee Pass, we were able to locate this September, 2016 ITD document. It states, "Public Involvement Coordinator Adam Rush summarized the public involvement process." "Forty-one comments from District 6 supported wildlife mitigation measures on US-20." The only groups and individuals, at that time, who were aware of the Targhee Pass project, were those identified in the two letters and those who were associated with those groups, who were given the opportunity to provide their input before any Island Park resident, and before the EA began.
A screenshot of the Acknowledgments from the Cramer report, dated October 27, 2016, illustrates the involvement of persons referenced in this records requested information explanation summary of the letters in the previous article.
Was There Collaboration Prior To The EA?
A records request to the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) revealed that two letters from two different organizations were sent to ITD in support of wildlife overpasses at Targhee Pass. Both letters are from groups that partner with Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y), the Henry's Fork Legacy Project (HFLP) and Center For Large Landscape Conservation(CLLC). ITD collaborated with these groups in July, 2016 by inviting them to review a draft of Dr. Patricia C. Cramer’s forthcoming report, Idaho Wildlife Connectivity and Safety Solutions on US 20 and SH 87. There were no announcements or invitations to the public, or Fremont County officials, to participate in these meetings. Given these groups are invested in wildlife overpasses, it gives the impression that ITD was predetermining the plan for Targhee Pass. The Cramer report was not released until October, 2016. None of this was brought to Island Park residents or Fremont County officials until December, 2016
The essence of these two letters is that ITD was actively collaborating with select groups with a specific goal for wildlife overpasses. During an Environmental Assessment(EA) all information has to be considered equally, but this information appears to lend itself to ITD collecting only information and data to support a wildlife overpass. These comments were also submitted prior to the open comment period for the public. Names and dates of when comments were submitted have been requested but as of yet have not been provided. However, this September, 2016 ITD document states, ""Public Involvement Coordinator Adam Rush summarized the public involvement process." "Forty-one comments from District 6 supported wildlife mitigation measures on US-20." ITD allowed these comments to be submitted prior to any public involvement, and prior to the EA.
Y2Y, CLLC, and the Island Park Safe Wildlife Passage group created by Y2Y, were conducting public campaigns supporting wildlife overpasses prior to ITD announcing the Targhee Pass project to the public. The following article, IDFG Records Request, also seems to confirm IDFG's intent of garnering support from groups who support overpasses.
IDFG Records Request
These are records from Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG). Each email is separated by a **** line and the beginning date of the email is in bold. There is some repetition because of chain emails. The essence of these emails is that from the summer of 2017, IDFG was actively pursuing funding for one wildlife overpass at Targhee Pass, without any regard that an Environmental Assessment was being conducted, and that no decision had been made on an alternative. Other organizations were recruited for support. The Idaho Department of Transportation (ITD) was aware of this and at the very last minute asked IDFG to not submit an application for a grant to fund the overpass.
During an EA process there cannot be any "pre-decisional" activity. The attempt for funding one overpass was a pre-decisional activity by IDFG and was even acknowledged in one of the emails as such. It appears the IDFG is the driving force behind overpasses. IDFG is also discussing the possibility of adding other species for other projects while ITD is talking about a pilot project to move ahead with an overpass. Both agencies were aware they were on precarious ground with their activity for an overpass.
These are the attached documents from the emails
Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG) entered into an agreement with the Federal Highway Administration to implement their Ecological approach to transportation projects. The essence of this approach is addressing natural resource identification, avoidance, minimization and mitigation into transportation projects on a regional scale. Gregg Servheen was instrumental in this 2013 agreement along with ITD being assigned the "lead adopter". Here is the 2015-2016 report.
ITD Records Request Information
This document from USFWS came with an Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) records request on threatened and endangered species specific to Hwy 20 Targhee Pass area. There was no critical habitat identified.
Working With Y2Y
The following is an email obtained from ITD. MFWP is the Montana Fish & Wildlife Program, and MDT is the Montana Department of Transportation. There is more importance working with Yellowstone 2 Yukon, Idaho Master Naturalists, other state agencies, and garnering money to take land than with residents of Island Park, or even giving consideration that all of this discussion is pre-decisional which violates NEPA law.
Re: Today's meeting
To: Renee Seidler
Great, looking forward to discussion.
See you at 2pm.
Sent: Tuesday, August 8, 2017 9:53:17 AM
To: Karen Hiatt
Subject: Today's meeting
I look forward to our meeting at 2 pm today. I have a few items that I would like to touch on with you; some of them we can keep brief in respect of our busy schedules!
Debrief on the Commission meeting
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
IDFG Moves Ahead To Submit NFWF Grant
ITD made the final decision on the grant not being submitted.
From: Seidler, Renee 8/29/2017 12:01 PM
Subject: Specifics on budget info for proposa
To: Eric Verner, Tim Cramer, Karen Hiatt
CC: Smith, David
Hi Eric, Tim and Karen,
David Smith (Grants/Contracts Specialist, IDFG) will be submitting our grant proposal to NFWF. He has created an account on the EasyGrants submission site and can see additional details that we need to provide. The budget items descriptions will need to come from you. I assume the NFWF monies would be used to pay a contractor…? Below are the needs. Note there is more detail needed for the match info as well (below the budget list).
Matching Contributions Page: It appears I need more information than the dollar amount.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
From: Karen Hiatt
Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2017 8:04 PM
To: Eric Verner; Tim Cramer; Seidler,Renee
Subject: RE: Specifics on budget info for proposal
Renee, We need to discuss more before committing to this or agreeing with the project being in kind for the grant.
Maybe we can talk tomorrow.
From: Karen Hiatt 9/1/2017 2:37 PM
RE: Updates to NFWF ppl
To: Seidler, Renee
CC: Gregg Servheen; Eric Verner; Tim Cramer; Jason Minzghor
Renee, I have reviewed the NFWF grant proposal and do not feel comfortable with ITD supporting the application for this grant with the Targhee Pass project where it is currently in the NEPA process.
I apologize for this short notice and suggest that we set up a time that Jason Minzghor, Gregg Servheen, you and I can sit down and discuss concerns and strategies moving forward. Jason Minzghor is out of the office next week, so it would need to be the second week of September for a meeting.
Please let me know some dates and times that work and we will go from there.
Sent: Thursday, August 31, 2017 3:51 PM
To: Karen Hiatt
Cc: Servheen,Gregg; Eric Verner; Tim Cramer
Subject: Updates to NFWF ppl
Gregg and I have made some changes in the NFWF proposal language to make it clear that this application is from a pre-decisional point in the project. I have highlighted such language using red font in the Description, Abstract and Narrative sections to make it easier for you to see. Please give this a read and let me know if it addresses your concerns sufficiently. If need be, don’t hesitate to call. The final proposal is due to NFWF by the end of this Tuesday.
In addition, we also need these items from ITD in order to complete the application on EasyGrants:
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
On April 23, 2018 the Commissioners held a meeting with Karen Hiatt, Jason Minzghor, and Drew Meppen from the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), and Andrea Gumm from the Langdon Group. Topics discussed were speed limits in Island Park, road projects on Hwy 20, coordination, and the Targhee Pass project and funding. ITD states no changes in speed limits will be made, and that ITD does not recognize coordination. The minutes can be read starting on page 8 in the PDF below.
Over the course of the months that we (BHHE, IPPC and other IP residents) have been opposing the Targhee Pass Project issue we have encountered controversy and opposition, which is to be expected. Regardless of which side you stand, passion is evident. There is nothing wrong with that. There are a few persons within the Big Horn Hills Estates subdivision that are in favor of the potential overpasses and subsequent fencing that will surround their (and our) homes. They have every right to their thoughts and opinions as well. But as a whole, the residents and property owners are firm in their stance against the adverse impacts the fencing will present. As a board, our property owners association voted unanimously to stand against this project and elected my husband to represent the subdivision. We view the world realistically, not through rose-colored glasses. We know that this project involves a multitude of huge issues and potential impacts.
Our local, county, and state elected officials are working hard for the preservation of this county. They support our subdivision and the multitudes of Island Park residents that do not want to see the desecration of this county that these projects will surely bring, as was evident from the meeting held last Saturday at the EMS building, in which an estimated 118-125 people attended. Targhee Pass is only the first step in the push to build wildlife overpasses and fencing for the whole of Hwy 20 from the Montana border to the top of Ashton Hill as well as from the 87 junction to the Montana border. (Please ask for a copy of the February 22, 2018, edition of the Island Park News if there is still doubt). As you may be aware, the commissioners, sheriff and mayor of Island Park also recently presented an alternative to ITD to no avail in regards to the reduction of speed, especially in the Targhee Pass. We greatly appreciate the efforts they have gone to.
Just as there are a few within the BHHE subdivision, you are mostly likely aware of a few more individuals within the Island Park area pushing the wildlife agenda. We have apparently touched a nerve with a few of them. It was recently brought to our attention that a commissioner received a phone call from someone claiming to live within the Big Horn Hills Estates subdivision. She wanted to point out that she was opposed and she couldn't understand his stance against the project. (Please note that we have never claimed otherwise and those few individuals are welcome to speak out). She was even kind enough to leave her name. The issue I have is that she lied. In the issue of privacy and concern for her well being, I will not disclose any information other than that I recognized her name immediately as one who is very vocal in her support of the wildlife overpasses and fencing. We responded to the commissioner that she does not live in BHHE or own property within the subdivision. I do believe; however, that she very well could live near an area that may eventually also be surrounded by fencing. Everyone here has the right to their own opinion and are free to share it; in fact, I encourage it. We live in a country that supports free speech; I have begun to value this freedom even higher now that we are faced with the issue of the infringement on our property rights through this environmental fight being imposed upon us. If you do not agree with the opposition you have every right to speak your piece; but doing so in an honest and open way and with integrity will stand to go a lot further in dealing with the issues versus dishonesty. Tactics that do not lend to honest discussion and dialogue are a direct reflection of the person or group that is behind them.
Property Owner, Big Horn Hills Estates
Reprinted with permission from IP News
Last Saturday, April 28th, the Big Horn Hills Estates POA and the Island Park Preservation Coalition co-hosted an informational meeting about the proposed Idaho Transportation Department and Idaho Department of Fish Game Targhee Pass Project. The EMS building was standing room only. 118-125 people made up the audience. Information about the current status of the proposed ITD 5 project alternatives was presented. ITD says the no alternative has been chosen at this time.
The Big Horn Hills Estates POA addressed their perspective on the project and listed some of their concerns. They would be the most impacted population and homeowners being affected by the wildlife fencing and overpasses, if those alternatives are chosen by ITD. The proposed overpasses and wildlife fencing would impact their livability environment, right to use, landscape, and view scape. They have wildlife corridor concerns as an adjacent landowners and principally how “living behind and within this prison environment’ will affect their private property rights and property values.
Two aspects of a public information request were presented. This information revealed that ITD and IDFG had entered into a 2014 MOU as partnering state agencies to implement a Federal Highway Administration eco-system approach intending to meld infrastructure planning and improvements (highways) with conservation planning for multiple wildlife species and their habitat, migrations, and other requirements. The subsequent cooperative agreement to contract with Renee Seidler, formerly of the Wildlife Conservation Society, as the IDFG transportation specialist for Hwy 20 was created to enhance this agreement.
The 2014-2015 MOU is a result of a series of Eco Logical workshops facilitated by the Langdon Group. The Langdon Group also authored the MOU and is the same company that is now facilitating the Targhee Pass Project. Eco Logical is available at this website: https://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/env_initiatives/eco-logical/report/ecological.pdf Implementing Eco Logical in Idaho is a result of a grant application submitted by Gregg Servheen, IDFG state wildlife coordinator, and this grant was awarded as a Lead Adopter grant to both IDFG and ITD in 2013. Hwy 20 is to be a model for future cooperative planning for our entire state. That state plan is called I-Plan, developed by BioWest, in cooperation with ITD and the FHWA, wrote the current alternatives for the Targhee Pass Project, except for the community alternative that the community asked them to incorporate. BioWest is conducting the Environmental Assessment for the Targhee Pass Project. BioWest also hosted the P. Cramer wildlife study of Hwy 20 on their website before it was on the ITD TPP website. Bio West was involved in the mapping component of that study in 2016.
Members of ITD were in attendance at the meeting and answered many community questions. The main questions focused on the reduced speed limit request and wildlife fencing. A question about an alternative selection deadline was asked, and answered, as uncertain to this time. The selection could occur sometime this summer or early fall. The EA phase is now being completed. Some analysis is waiting on the disappearance of the snow. When that analysis is completed, there will be a report issued on the EA with a public comment period to follow.
Ralph Kincheloe of BHHE reported that he had been in contact with Idaho Senate Transportation Chairman, Senator Brackett. He has been consulting with him and reporting on information and research that is being compiled. He indicated that there will be a future meeting hosted by Senator Brackett coming in the near future, and the idea of seeking a legislative solution to this issue was introduced.
Also in attendance were IP Mayor Tom Jewel, who spoke about the Mayor’s, Fremont County Commissioner’s, and the FC Sheriff’s request for extended 45 zones that ITD has rejected. Commissioner Jordan Stoddard was with him and acknowledged unison with that request. State Representative, Karey Hanks, attended and spoke to her position against the investment of our state road and bridge money for such an expensive investment for 4 miles of Idaho highways. She reminded ITD that they who work for us. Rep. Van Burtenshaw, currently running for the ID Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Jeff Siddoway, Rod Furniss and Gerald Raymond, who are running for office as representatives in our legislative district, were also in attendance.
At the end of the 2 hour meeting, the consensus option of the audience was for ITD and FHWA to do the necessary road upgrades, lower and/or extend the current 45 speed zone at TP to address both human and wildlife safety, cut back the trees to increase driver and wildlife opportunity to recognize one another, quit using the de-icing salt solution during winter (which, in the words of one resident creates ‘one giant salt-lick’ of highway 20 and actually encourages the wildlife to the roadway), and increased driver awareness and wildlife movement signage (flashing-style), were a the solutions supported.
ITD stated that they were going to bring signs up for the spring migration but their signs are broken so they are making arrangements to rent some. Wildlife is being reported along the roadside on the Ashton Hill and near the known crossing locations near Harriman. It was noted that wildlife will soon be staging to cross near the Junction of 87 and TP, so they better hurry. If highway safety for animals is a primary concern for ITD we hope they noticed as they travelled home that there was one dead deer on the Ashton Hill and a dead elk near Harriman noted by travelers to the meeting.
Of note from audience comments made at the meeting, one resident did the math on his calculator after ITD answered a question about traffic volume on the highway. ITD stated that there are 9000 daily vehicles during the peak summer season and 5000 daily as a yearly average. There are about 20 wildlife deaths reported each over 5 years at Targhee Pass. The gentleman calculation the probability of a wildlife vehicle collision. He stated that the number was so small that his calculator had a hard time arriving at the ratio. (The probability of a vehicle hitting wildlife at Targhee Pass is about 1 in 500,000.)
While every wildlife death is unfortunate and no one wants to see that happen, the investment as a cost benefit analysis does not justify the 22-30 million dollar investment that is being proposed. Another comment from a part-time California and Idaho BHHE resident is that in California the wildlife fencing is now being taken down in many places because they are finding that it is actually stopping animal migrations and causing greater problems rather than a solution they had hoped for.
Maintenance questions about the structures and the fencing concerning snow load and snow removal were offered for consideration. It was offered that the fencing is $75-$85 per ft. Human access through the fencing would require swing gates; who patrols those gates? Elk and moose can jump a regular cattle guard, double cattle guards would be required at exit points. Possible electric mats and their relationship to animals and humans was talked about. Concern over the wetlands and Howard Creek were discussed. Human use and future restrictions were part of the discussion.
It was also offered that the requests for wildlife overpasses did not come from Fremont county or Island Park. Public records requested information shows that the comments were submitted by the campaign for safe wildlife overpasses sponsored by Y2Y and the GYC. They had the opportunity to front-load those comments to the ITIP process and ITD through their intimate involvement with the project, wildlife mapping and GIS data collection, and participation in the recommendation study conducted by P. Cramer.
While it was offered that people had equal opportunity to have commented, at the time they knew and were involved. The general public, however had not been informed. It was also offered that if the state agencies were collaborating with other partners they certainly had the burden to inform the county and the community of their activity and what it was intended to be achieved.
The day after our last public information workshop was held in Island Park, Aug 30, 2017, Renee Seidler sent an email to Karen Hiatt, Gregg Servheen, Eric Verner and Tim Cramer soliciting an ITD $200,000.00 match for a grant application she was completing. The attachment to the email was a final proposal application draft for the Great Migrations and Critical Wildlife Corridor federal program. The project being applied for was Targhee Pass. The project was to include 1 to 3 wildlife overpasses. It was confirmed that the FHWA had already committed $22 million dollars to the project, had overpass specifications, identified target species including (wolverine) circuit maps, stated that IDFG had identified the locations for wildlife overpasses and a map, animal movement maps, and priority habitat identification. The application asks for $200,000.00 to ‘round-out’ the costs associated with wildlife overpasses and states in red the portions of the application that need to stress the application is pre-decisional to address ITD’s concern.
The project start date is to be 7-1-2018 and the end date is 12-31-2021. Under the Permits and approvals portion are listed:
Letter of Support from Liz Davy, District Ranger, Caribou-Targhee National Forest
Later of Support USFWS Letter of Support from the Nature Conservancy
Letter of Support from the Wildlife Conservation Society
According to Karen Hiatt (ITD), Renee Seidler was told to withdraw the proposal.
Reprinted with permission from IP News
This week in the IP News 2 informative posts were published. Both contained one operative word, “currently” and on that basis were carefully worded.
First there was this one:
“Currently" there are no wildlife overpasses or anything associated with them to consider. But, if and when there are, then Idaho Fish & Game has a different answer for us.
Then there was also this article:
Ms. Davey we have one question:
Once wildlife overpasses are constructed how do you get back across The Targhee National Forest to achieve ‘connectivity’ to Yellowstone for multiple "species of greatest conservation need", defining what are the perimeters of their necessary protected habitats, or widths and lengths of their dispersal and migratory corridors, or define the restrictions and management requirements of all necessary ‘right-of-ways’….without having to re-visit the management plan of The Targhee National Forest?
FREMONT COUNTY COMMISSIONERS MEETING MINUTES February 26, 2018
District Ranger Elizabeth Davy RE: Ashton/Island Park Ranger District Updates
"She (Ms. Davy) is working with ITD on the Targhee Pass Project providing the environmental analysis for potential widening of the road and a potential wildlife crossing. "She is writing letters supporting various grants for ITD and other things."
Now we have the USFS working with ITD on the TPP…how many sate and federal agencies are involved and once again this is all news to Fremont County because we sure haven’t been invited to participate.
A letter written by the Board of the Henry's Fork Chapter Idaho Master Naturalist Program, titled, "Who Are The Idaho Master Naturalists (IMNs), was posted in the IP News on 3/22/18. The article basically describes the functions of the organization. This was first addressed by the Citizen Advocacy For Island Park Idaho Issues face book page.
A list of their "only" partners included Idaho Fish & Game, US Forest Service, Henry's Fork Foundation, Nature Conservancy, and Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation. The article pointed out they are restricted from volunteering "...for political issues or advocacy of a political nature.", pointing out that "allegations" of involvement with non-governmental organizations were "false", and that they were not "participating in any campaign pertaining to the options...being considered by ITD for the Hwy 20 Targhee Pass project." However, the Nature Conservancy is an NGO.
In researching the statement regarding not participating in campaigns for alternatives this Facebook post was found from July 12, 2016, in partnership with the Island Park Safe Wildlife Passage (IPSWP) group which advocates for wildlife overpasses. IPSWP is coordinated by Yellowstone 2 Yukon (Y2Y). Although it appears the Henry's Fork Legacy Project (HFLP) created the IPSWP, the contact is Kim Trotter, the US Program Director for Y2Y.
IMN stated they do not partner with non governmental organizations (NGO), however they listed the NGO Nature Conservancy as a partner in the article. In further researching this, it was found that Y2Y lists the IMNs as a collaborating partner, along with the HFLP which was created by Y2Y, on page 12 of this 2015 annual Y2Y report. Y2Y is one of the lead initiatives for wildlife overpasses in the Island Park area.
Another NGO the IMN partners with is the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). As stated in this 2015 ScienceDaily article, "...WCS and IDFG recruited the help of the Idaho Master Naturalists (IMN)..." to "...conduct surveys for animal tracks alongside U.S. Highway 20...". This partnership was also recognized in a Rexburg Standard Journal article as seen in the graphic below.
The Island Park and Idaho Falls Idaho Master Naturalists volunteered for the US20 Road Ecology Report in which the WCS also participated.
In the June 8, 2016 IMN meeting minutes report, in which the link has now been removed by IDFG, but a pdf of that meeting can be found under the IP Focus tab, there seems to be an indication that IMN has regular contact with the HFLP and ITD, both of which are promoting wildlife overpasses.
There seems to be adequate evidence that the IMN did indeed partner, collaborate, and secondarily to that, promote objectives of the Y2Y created HFLP and IPSWP, NGOs and state agencies.
Big Horn Hills Estate (BHHE) home owners, Ralph & Connie Kincheloe, participated in an interview with Zeb Bell on March 13 to discuss the wildlife overpasses at Targhee Pass, the impact it would have on that residential area, the questionable activities by the Idaho Transportation Department and Idaho Fish & Game, and the involvement by conservation initiatives.
To hear the full interview start at the 50:02 mark.
Making Sense of It All
This blog will help you make sense out of all the information on the website, how it affects IP, previous articles in the IP News, our history, and how efforts continue to put IP into various forms of conservation status.