Aside from all the evidence that the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has been partnering with groups on wildlife overpasses, it appears they had already made the decision to put wildlife overpasses in Island Park as early as June, 2016, without every bringing it to Island Park citizens or going through the required NEPA process!!
At the June 8, 2016 Idaho Master Naturalist (IMN) Henry's Fork Chapter meeting, it was announced, "James commented that the Idaho Department of Transportation is focusing on building four safe passages (either over or under passages). Two may be located in or around Island Park."
Hmmm, ITD already made the decision to build overpasses in Island Park.
A copy of those meeting notes can be read below, page 4, or online here. (Update, as of 3/22/18 this link was removed by IDFG, however an archived copy is here)
This comment was made prior to a letter from Henry's Fork Legacy Project (HFLP) to ITD, dated July 29, 2016, regarding a private meeting that was held at the invitation of ITD and their support of wildlife overpasses specifically at Targhee Pass. The letter was also signed by the following initiatives and individuals.
David Weskamp - Conservation Manager for East Idaho - The Nature Conservancy
Dennis Glick - Executive Director - Future West
Jamie Laatsch - Conservation and Outreach Coordinator - Henry's Fork Foundation
Kathy Rinaldi - Idaho Conservation Coordinator - Greater Yellowstone Coalition
Kim Trotter - US Program Director - Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
Mary and Parmer VanFleet - Residents, Island Park - Member Idaho Master Naturalists, HFLP, HLF, Henry’s Fork Foundation, The Nature - Conservancy, Teton Regional Land Trust
Renee Seidler - Associate Conservation Scientist - Wildlife Conservation Society, North America Program
Timothy D. Reynolds, Ph.D. - Certified Wildlife Biologist
The letter can be read below.
Without ever considering all of the public participation and local government coordination requirements, ITD has already colluded with special interest groups and made the decision for overpasses. These groups were also allowed the privilege to submit comments, or in other words front load their comments, before ITD opened up the comment period to Island Park residents, or even before the project was brought to them in December, 2016! How did their ability to front load comments affect the outcome of the EA Scoping Report? Did this not cause a bias in the comment numbers??? Is there not something illegal about this?
Federal laws are very clear, a proper process must be followed requiring coordination from the initial planning and development stages of any impact project which has not occurred in Fremont County and Island Park. Should this highway project be started over following the process law defines? Perhaps Island Park residents should demand this from ITD.
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.