A combination of improved road shoulders, added walking/biking pathways and road realignment are some actions that should be taken to reduce congestion and increase transportation options in Teton National Park, according to the preferred alternative of the National Park Service which released its final transportation plan and environmental impact statement for the park today.
U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said people are sensitive to change in their National Parks, but he encouraged stakeholders to look for ways to succeed rather than look for a fight.
"Grand Teton National Park is not getting any bigger, but each year the crowds of people who visit the most popular areas are. We all recognize this and it makes sense to search for ways to manage this growth, but we’ve got to do so from both the perspective of protecting the resource and maintaining visitor access to these resources. If interested parties don’t lose sight of each of these goals then we can reach them both, otherwise we could end up with a different version of the Yellowstone snowmobiling situation," Enzi said. "I’m going to study the document in more depth. It appears there are viable ideas in this plan, although there are still some blanks to be filled."
Enzi said finding funding is always a factor. He has joined fellow Wyoming Republican Senator Craig Thomas, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, in advocating increased National Park funding. The federal government has reduced highway spending allotments across the nation and Wyoming Department of Transportation officials are calling on Wyoming Legislators for more state money.
"Before arriving at a final decision, the Park Service must weigh heavily the views of Wyoming residents who live close to the park. These are the people who have the most at stake," Enzi said.
The National Park Service plans to issue a record of decision in January. The transportation plan can be found on the Web at <parkplanning.nps.gov>.