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County Opposes Forest Merger

December 20, 2012 Bridger Teton National Forest, Teton County No Comments
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As a study team continues to examine a proposal to merge the Caribou-Targhee and Bridger-Teton National Forests, the counties which the Bridger-Teton spans are weighing in on the plan and are by no means in favor of it.  Teton County Commissioner Hank Phibbs says Teton County is clearly opposed for a variety of reasons. Phibbs says, “It would make management virtually impossible over a national forest which would now be over 6-million acres in size.  The Bridger Teton is in five counties in Wyoming, it is entirely in Wyoming…Caribou-Targhee covers 17 counties in Idaho plus one or two down in Utah and some small chunks in Wyoming.”  Phibbs says the merger would be creating a “dysfunctional monster.” Phibbs points out that the natures of the two forests are very different with Bridger-Teton comprised of  largely roadless areas and three major wilderness areas while the Caribou-Targhee has two small wilderness areas – one of which is in Wyoming, and largely multiple use areas.  Furthermore, he says such a move would disrupt the lines of communications that have led to major advances in land management between multiple agencies.  He points out that the headquarters for such federal land managers as Grand Teton National Park, the National Elk Refuge and an important office of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are all co-located with the Bridger Teton National Forest in Jackson now.  He says the coordination that has developed over the past decades between those agencies along with the county’s work with the Forest has been remarkable, and removing the Forest from the mix would create a major impediment for continuing that cooperative management continuing in the future.   Phibbs says the county is carefully drafting a position letter to send to the Forest Service which he anticipates will be in their hands by the end of the week.

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