Reprinted with permission from the Island Park News.
Researching the proposed Targhee Pass Project, I found a very informative piece of information. In the scoping report, I found a reference to a 2014 MOU between ITD and IDFG concerning HWY 20 in an EPA letter citation.
IDFG and ITD had earlier MOUs. A 2004 MOU agreement covered a broad array of topics.
“Then in 2014, through a Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) grant, the two agencies were provided the opportunity to take a fresh look at roles, responsibilities and how to best work together. By coordinating statewide workshops, designed in a way that would extract the right issues, encourage productive discussions, what resulted were actionable items that could be implemented in a new MOU.”
The two agencies hired The Langdon Group (TLG) to help facilitate the process.
Area workshops for ITD District and IDFG Region staff were held in Moscow, Idaho Falls and Boise. Workshop participants also included representatives from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC).
What IS IMPORTANT FOR ISLAND PARK TO NOTE IS: “an afternoon session and small-group discussion was on (Data Sharing, Planning and Project Coordination, Road Kill, and Wildlife Crossings). Discussion topics were determined through key stakeholder interviews conducted by The Langdon Group, with ITD and IDFG staff, and vetted through the joint Technical Advisory Committee.”
Who are the members of this committee? Was there any local or regional elected representation present?
“Results and Benefits. ...In total, the workshops produced 175 pages of flip chart notes and 7,800 words. Input ranged from general observations to specific MOU recommendations. The Langdon Group worked closely with the two agencies to write a new MOU that is reflective of the needs and interests of those individuals intended to benefit from it.”
I have asked for a copy of this information and I am waiting for a response to my records request. I am sure it will cost me, it seems the price for truth is not cheap.
The conflict of interests involved in the Targhee Pass Project are PROFOUND!!
·Y2Y and the IP Master Naturalists, ITD, Heart of the Rockies and BioWest (and others) participated in the P. Cramer 2014-2015 HWY 20 study, which resulted in recommendations for wildlife overpasses at the locations which are currently being considered at Targhee Pass. Future recommendations for the rest of the Island Park HWY 20 travel corridor were also identified and now appear in the I-Plan.
·Y2Y and members of The IP Master Naturalists are running the campaign known as The Island Park Safe Wildlife Passage Initiative.
·BioWest is now running the Targhee Pass Project Environmental Assessment.
·ITD, Idaho Fish and Game, and The Wildlife Conservation Society did a 4 year study on Hwy 20 looking at where wildlife cross. It ended near the time the P. Cramer study began. Renee Seidler was working for The Wildlife Conservation Society then, now she is a contractor working for IDFG and being pd. for by ITD.
·The Wildlife Conservation Society was also a contractor for Heart of the Rockies director Michael Whitfield at the same time, conducting a ‘connectivity pilot’ here, which also involved evaluating HWY 20 for connectivity/wildlife mitigation critical to the same goals Y2Y has for ‘connecting’ Yellowstone to Central Idaho, and from there up to the Yukon. This pilot was being conducted through the federal DOI cooperative the Great Northern Land Conservation Cooperative (GNLCC), where Gary Tabor co-founder of Y2Y, Michael Whitfield-HOTR, and IDFG Gregg Servheen were members of the GNLCC steering committee determining grant allocations and project selection.
·Y2Y and networked non-governmental partners all were signatories and the senders of the 2 scoping report letters we have previously reported about in this newspaper, that went to the ITD board to recommend wildlife mitigations recommended by the P. Cramer study. The Henrys Fork Legacy Project, whose flagship initiative is the Island Park Safe Wildlife Passage effort sent their very own letter. Their larger non-governmental networked partners sent the second, it’s same style recommendations included HWY 20 and also other ITD projects across our entire state.
·Now we discover that The Langdon Group, who is facilitating the Targhee Pass Project, wrote the 2014 MOU between ITD and IDFG that set the entire thing up. A subsequent cooperative agreement has been added to the 2014 MOU-Project #A014(054), A019(913), A019(606 &A019(711) Targhee Pass (JCT 87 to Montana state line, phase 1&2) US 20 Chester-MT Safety Corridor Plan & Ashton Hill Bridge to Dumpground Rd. The agreement administrators are Gregg Servheen of the IDFG and Karen Hiatt of ITD, it authorizes the hire of Renee Seidler.
·All of this federal grant award money coming into our region between 2011 and 2015, and all of it involving multiple same organizations and people, all are predicated on our wildlife resources and focus on HWY 20, what do you conclude about all of it?
·Even the HUD-EPA-DOT grant, that we all remember had a hidden and failed national monument initiative in it, can also be linked to the wildlife and HWY 20 analysis. In the final report submitted to HUD, Appendix E.3 titled ‘Wonders and Wildlife”, Project WW.2 calls for implementation of SWAP through the IDFG, Initiative WW3. calls for safe wildlife corridors and overpasses implemented through state transportation projects, and cites as it’s source the ITD study, and Initiative WW.4 calls for conserving land through land trusts with non-governmental partners taking the lead.
….what in the heck do you think is going on?
All of this federal money has focused on the same thing, and has happened during a dedicated window of time in coordinated regard. It has funded state agencies, and their non-governmental partners with profound and multiple conflicts of interest, to bring unwanted, unwelcome and unsolicited change to Island Park and Fremont County. Force upon us, radical change which proposes to drastically impact our uses, restrict our access, and forever re-design our livability environment...using our wildlife resources as the excuse.
Guest Research IP News
The research information for this article can be found at these links:
MOU/Island Park US 20
Cooperate agreement/subsequent to the MOU Island Park US 20
HUD final report information comes from archived research information
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.