Bill would give county $1.4M
By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
February 12, 2013
Teton County could receive $1.4 million for conservation projects via legislation making its way through Wyoming’s Capitol.
The bill would help preserve Munger Mountain and parts of east Gros Ventre Butte, and restore some of Cottonwood Ranch.
“The most important way to improve habitat is to protect habitat from development and make sure it doesn’t get subdivided,” Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, said.
Members of a Senate committee approved the funding bill Monday, which means it will advance to a full Senate floor debate. House members have already approved the bill.
Gingery was one of a group of legislators who helped put the funding mechanism in place. The money for the projects comes from the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, which was created in 2005. Interest from the account pays for projects, which are vetted by an independent board.
The bill would provide $600,000 to the Jackson Hole Land Trust to support conservation on Munger Moun-tain. The Jackson nonprofit hopes to put 300 acres under a conservation easement. The project is estimated to cost a total of $6 million.
Land trust officials have been working with the Resor family for several years to secure an easement on the property. They already secured some federal funding for the project.
“People don’t realize that a lot of that is private land that backs up to the forest,” Land Trust Executive Direc-
tor Laurie Andrews said, referring to land south of Munger Mountain.
An easement would help secure migration corridors and protect habitat for elk, moose, mule deer and songbirds, the bill states.
Another $600,000 would go to the land trust for a project on east Gros Ventre Butte. The organization is trying to protect 413 acres on the butte at a cost of $7.66 million. The area is habitat for sage grouse and mule deer.
“What could have happened there is [that] a road could have carved up the side of the hill for a development,” Andrews said.
Such a project could have fragmented migration routes and habitat, she said. It also would have had a big visual impact on the northern entrance to Jackson.
“It’s an amazing connection between the elk refuge and Spring Gulch,” Andrews said.
She said the organization is working with the Halpin family to secure an easement on the butte.
The Teton Science Schools stands to get more than $209,000 from the bill for restoration work at Cottonwood Ranch. The $1.1 million rehabilitation project would restore rangeland habitat through water development, re-seeding, fencing and livestock management.
Any of the money allocated would revert to the state in June 2017 if it isn’t used.
This year, lawmakers introduced a bill that would have prevented state dollars from being used to pay for conservation easements. That bill died early in the legislative session, but there was some opposition to the conservation project funding.