The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has the road data statistics on their website, but are somewhat different than how Ms. Bjerke states them in the IP News, June 21 edition. Site 32 stats come from 14 miles north of Ashton as the marker point. In July, 2016 the average daily traffic was 8,224 as compared to 4,533 in 1990. For the year 2015 the annual 24 hour daily average was 4,067 at Site 32. The report is also broken down into hourly counts on weekdays in 2016. These are the most current stats on the ITD website. Where Ms. Bjerke gets her data on 1.5 million yearly travelers through IP is unclear as it certainly couldn't be found on the ITD website. It is highly doubtful Ms. Bjerke's projection of 5 million future travelers per year through Island Park is correct. What traveler will choose to come to this area with that much traffic or without Idaho or the Federal Highway Administration intervening?
If people speed over the limit now, what will happen when they are fenced in with a clear animal free path by fencing? What an invitation to put the pedal to the floor, why not go faster, no harm done because the animals won't be there. Building an overpass for the purpose of a migration that occurs only two times a year during low traffic volumes does not make sense. The overpass issue, once again, is about the Yellowstone to Yukon agenda for corridor designation and connectivity to Yellowstone. It is needed for linkage between protected areas.
While the Teton Regional Land Trust (TRLT) espouses its benevolence for "charitable and educational intentions exclusively", what they do not tell you is how land trusts are often land brokers for the government with easements often sold to the government for a profit. TRLT holds 18,324 acres of Idaho land, that is a little over 25 square miles. Of those acres, 99.13% are closed to access, all of it coming from private land. Because this land is typically banned from development it is an economic loss to the county. This land, considered protected, also provides the necessary linkages to other protected land such as Yellowstone. TRLT partners with the federal government, the international organization Nature Conservancy, and conservation initiatives Heart of the Rockies and Yellowstone to Yukon, both whose objectives are connectivity. A land trust also has the potential to strategically acquire other land or development rights for regional land use planning, which TRLT is, regional. The most recent financial information on their website is from 2014 at which time their assets exceeded three million dollars.
Lastly, we have the Don Kostelee article outlining the facts on speed and accidents, and J.L. Keefer with her historical narrative and future projections on traffic patterns. While other states and countries have chosen to use overpasses as their solution, Idaho does not have to be a follower, but rather a leader in creating ways to protect human lives and wildlife that do not involve land destruction, prevent the advancement of objectives by groups that only want overpasses to justify protection status which leads to regulating private land in the vicinity, and protect private property rights.
At some point in time we have all told our children, "If all your friends jumped off a bridge then would you do it too?" Just because groups, other states, and other countries have jumped on some bandwagon does not mean Idaho or Island Park has to do the same.
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.