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North Highway Pathway Open An Additional Month

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The National Elk Refuge has decided to extend the bicycling season along the North Highway 89 Pathway this year.  Refuge Spokesperson Lori Iverson explains that for the past 2½ years since the pathway opened, biologists have collected GPS elk collar data and conduct weekly elk counts on the area south of the Gros Ventre Hills during both the spring and fall migration periods. Additionally, Brian Schilling from Jackson Hole Community Pathways deployed motion–detecting trail cameras at elk jump locations during the fall migration period in 2011 and 2012. Captured images were recorded along with the specific location, date, time, and species. The resulting information from the various data collection methods was factored into the decision to adjust the seasonal closure dates. Most notably, the refined data collected from the GPS collars documented that the main segment of the Jackson elk herd that crosses the pathway comes from Spring Gulch and the southern area of Grand Teton National Park and is one of the last to migrate to the Refuge each fall.  Consequently, Iverson says the annual closure of the pathway is being extended from October first to November first. None-the-less, Iverson says the Refuge will retain the authority to enact emergency closures during both the spring and fall seasons to mitigate for wildlife considerations.

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