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Teton County Commissioners Disregard Recreational Interests

This week our Teton County Commissioners drafted a letter in response to Rep. Cheney’s Bill HR 4697.  This letter asks Cheney to withdraw the bill and blatantly disregards recreational supporters in our community who are in favor of this legislation, which would protect our current access to the Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in the Palisades and Shoal Creek.  This letter divides our community and ultimately does not represent the opinion of many Teton County residents. 

We ask you to get informed, and get involved. 

Here is the letter our commissioners drafted.  They are planning to vote on whether or not to send the letter at the next Board of County Commissioners Meeting, Tuesday, February 20th at 9am.  In advance of that meeting we ask you to send public comment requesting the commissioners to remain neutral on Bill HR 4697, and ask they do not send the drafted letter to our state representatives in Washington, DC.   This email address goes to all the county commissioners and staff:  commissioners@tetoncountywy.gov    

 Photo By Chris Moody

Photo By Chris Moody

Myths and Facts about HR4697

We took the time to help debunk some of the MYTHS and highlight some of the FACTS About Congressman Cheney’s Bill (HR 4697), which was introduced on December 20, 2017.

Read the full Bill Here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/4697


Myth:  HR4697 is only related to Heli-Skiing and was designed to only serve that one “special interest”.

Fact:  HR 4697 is written to clarify the authorized recreational uses in the Palisades, High Lakes and Shoal Creek Wilderness Study Areas (WSA’s). The bill specifically states that mountain biking, dirt biking, snowmobiling, heli-skiing and horseback riding are all activities that were allowed to occur prior to the WSA designation and shall continue to be allowed to occur in these three WSA’s.   


Myth:  If passed this bill would allow the creation of new trails in these three WSA’s leading to over use of these public lands.

Fact:  Under the 1984 Wyoming Wilderness Act the Forest Service must manage these three WSA’s to protect their existing “Wilderness Character”. Simply put that means no new trails. There are several hundred miles of existing trails in these three WSA’s. These trails are all mapped with official Forest Service trail numbers and all existed prior to the passage of the 1984 Wyoming Wilderness Act.


Myth:  If passed HR4697 would result in “over use” of the Palisades, High Lakes and Shoal Creek WSA’s.

Fact:  HR4697 has a specific provision which prohibits any new access points beyond what existed in the original 1984 Wyoming Wilderness Act into these three Wilderness Study Areas.


Myth:  A Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is the same as a Wilderness area.  

Fact:  A Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is a designation given to an area that congress believes should be studied so that the Forest Service can make a recommendation on whether or not it should be included in the Wilderness Preservation System.


Myth:  Congressman Cheney doesn’t appreciate and respect our “Wilderness Areas” in Wyoming.  

Fact: Congressman Cheney recently voted against a bill that was designed to allow Mountain Biking in Wilderness Areas.  She recognizes the importance of these special places and what they mean to our hunters, guides, and fishermen.  


Myth:  Advocates for Multi-Use of Public Lands (AMPL) wants to open Motorized and Mechanized recreation to all of Teton County.  

Fact:  AMPL has never advocated allowing motorized or mechanized recreation on any lands that either have a Wilderness designation or have Seasonal Wildlife habitat closures. Our primary interest is in protecting the remaining limited motorized and mechanized recreational opportunities that our community has on our public lands in the Bridger-Teton, Caribou-Targhee and Shoshone National Forest.


Myth: “HR 4697… might reflect the interests of at least 1,800 people in and around Teton County that took the time to send a One Click Politics email” –County Commissioners' draft letter

Fact: Over the last year AMPL helped collect over 1,500 handwritten public comment forms from passionate recreationalists who feel strongly that environmentalism and access to recreation can go hand in hand.