Photos of wildlife overpass site evaluations at Sheep Falls road and just before Big Horn Hills Estates near Targhee Pass. Photo credit BioWest, published on the IPLAN website. No photo date signature. Power transmission and delivery infrastructure clearly visible in both photos.
The Fall River Electric Cooperative (FREC) facebook (FB) page has posted candidate resumes, and Ken Watts has been raising awareness about the upcoming FREC board elections. The FREC board serves 3 states, 9 districts with owner members voting on the candidates.
Local and regional advocates and agents acting for conservation change have been asked to refocus their efforts. The Network for Landscape Conservation (NLC), in which Y2Y and NGO partners are members, is implementing new strategies that includes new funding, focusing on building their coalitions at all local levels for “large landscape conservation” that cross jurisdictional boundaries, and entrenching themselves into local decision-making bodies.
Candidate resumes posted on the FREC FB page include Island Park South, Driggs, and West Yellowstone. Social media and simple FB searches on the Island Park and Driggs candidates reveal more. The candidate for the West Yellowstone board position, Doug Schmier, is running unopposed and was not investigated by our research team.
Island Park South
Mr Ard - Social media has minimal and business related postings…no red flags.
Mr Webb - Cannot be found on social media or FB.
Jodi Stiehl - FB reveals she is a business owner in Island Park, however her resume photo might lead one to think that she is a rural rancher. This photo accompanied her Canadian Heritage Days tribute post. She grew up on a rural Canadian ranch. Other photo posts reveal that she was also a previous Parks Canada employee, which is employment history, but her resume does not mention it.
She is a member of Friends of Harriman (FOH), which promoted the Y2Y Wild Ways video on wildlife overpasses in 2016 ,and was narrated by Y2Y founder Harvey Locke. A petition signature booth was at that event in support of wildlife safe passage which ITD later touted as the local requests to include wildlife overpasses into their planning process. This Y2Y event also launched the ‘flagship’ IPSWPI. The Stiehl family is also Henry's Fork Foundation (HFF) members. The HFF, with their Y2Y partners, also submitted a letter to ITD requesting inclusion of wildlife overpasses and fencing in future Hwy 20 road upgrade projects. All of this information can be validated on their respective FB pages. That letter to ITD, gained through record request, is published under the SIPWO Research tab. BIG RED FLAGGS 🚩🚩
Mark Gerber - Social media posts show he is a Boise state alumni. His social media indicates that his biology degree was obtained at that university, but that fact is not mentioned in his resume. Why? That is valid resume information. In what capacity did he interact with the energy sector, which he does not mention in his resume? He states that he has also served on two boards with thousands of members, but does not name these boards.
Mr. Gerber adds that he was trained in conflict resolution by the Udall Foundation, part of the executive branch of the federal government, which focuses on environmental, natural resource, and public land issues involving the federal government. His management experience includes being a team member on multi-billion-dollar projects, but he does not list what those jobs were. Associated with the Udall Foundation is Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who along with Sen. Don Beyers (D-VA), reintroduced the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act, establishing a National Wildlife Corridors Program. BIG RED FLAGGS 🚩🚩
Kyle Cooke – An accountant is his professional skillset and he is a lifelong Teton Valley resident. His social media posts are full of family, outdoor recreation photos, off road mountain biking-hunting, and fishing, a big outdoor enthusiast.
Kelly Circle - A bail bondsman, his posts are relative to his business.
Mark Hansen - No social media presence.
Anna Lindstedt - Development director for the HFF partner, Friends of the Teton River (FTR). Posts are profile photo updates, family-friends-river pictures, and political posts. She previously worked for the National Park Service in Colorado, creating a youth service and education program focused on cultivating student’s interest in conservation careers. FTR is currently focused on securing the Teton River Corridor Project and has recently fully partnered with the Henry’s Fork Foundation. Educated in Bozeman, which is home of the Western Transportation Institute and western center for development for the FHWA, and prominent in advocating for wildlife overpasses and road ecology, the connection is noteworthy. Ms Lindstedt's FREC resume lists her degree in sociology, but her FTR bio states she has an anthropology degree. RED FLAG 🚩🚩
All of the candidates look to be very fine people. The modern day reality of social media is an interesting dynamic in the field of research and information sharing, what we post about ourselves provides a very honest and unfiltered insight into who we are as a person and our activities and beliefs. These life activities will lend opinion to the FREC board, where decisions on policy and future direction are cast in our behalf. It is valuable that we look to these insights. Three candidates raise serious background research red flags, and maybe they should for you also.
Y2Y, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and their local initiative IPSWPI, continue advocating for wildlife overpasses through social media. With IDFG, this partnership still wants wildlife overpasses in Island Park. IPLAN still has multiple overpasses on it's website. The different persons and organizations intent on pushing this advocacy seem to keep ignoring the political reality and the will of the people who live here…but continue to try to advance it regionally, therefore it will NOT go away.
*In the FREC September, 2018 meeting notes, when the issue was discussed and put to a vote, 3 directors voted in favor, and 5 opposed overpasses and fencing. The notes reflect that potential access and infrastructure impacts to the FREC power delivery system were the concern.
AFTERWARD, one board member was personally active on social media favoring overpasses and was also interviewed on television in February, 2019 favoring them. Is it reasonable to assume that this same advocate, as a director was one of the 3 support votes? This director does represent a Fremont County district on the FREC board. The wildlife overpasses and fences were not proposed to be built in every district on the FREC system, they were proposed for Fremont County, the advisory vote on the issue that registered 79% opposition was for Fremont County. Would this not be a profound conflict of interest if this director voted in favor when the people of that same district had voted overwhelmingly to oppose?
It is reasonable to consider the dynamic, that while regional in structure as an organization may be, representatives which are elected to represent specific districts, should vote respective of the jurisdiction they represent, on matters and opinions specific to their district, when they are presented for board consideration. Every person is entitled to their own opinion and to act on it, but when elected to a higher office, personal opinions should not be amplified by the power of a vote, but rather, should respect and represent their constituency.
With qualified candidates running for the FREC board positions that don't raise red flags, why would FREC voters want to take a chance on those that do?
IP Focus Article 4-26-2019 (Edited)
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.