The issue of whether motorized watercraft should be allowed on the Snake River in Teton County, Wyoming, will soon be debated and decided by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission. This topic is on the agenda for the upcoming Game and Fish Commission meeting on Sept. 22 through Sept. 23 in Jackson at the Virginian Lodge.
Commissioners will tour the river on Sunday, Sept. 22, and the tour is open to the public. Motorized watercraft regulations are on the agenda for Monday, September 23. The meeting begins at 8 a.m., and the motorized watercraft discussion is No. 5 on the list. Public comment will be taken. Please come to the Virginian Lodge at 8:45 a.m. to weigh in on this important issue.
Game and Fish Commissioners first considered new motorized watercraft regulations for the valley at their July meeting in Saratoga. However, Commissioners tabled their decision until they could gather more data on use and regulation impacts. At the July meeting, four speakers, including the Snake River Fund, pushed for a complete ban on motorized watercraft, while three people (the strongest voice was from Idaho) advocated for motorized use.
The regulations as proposed would ban personal motorized crafts (such as Jet Skis) from the southern boundary of Grand Teton National Park down to Sheep Gulch. The proposal would also eliminate motorboats from the Grand Teton National Park boundary to Sheep Gulch, but would allow motorboats with up to 115 horsepower engines from South Park Bridge to the Elbow Boat Ramp.
Local Game and Fish staff are hosting a tour for the G&F Commissioners of the river stretches in question on Sunday, Sept. 22nd from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tour will begin at 11 a.m. at the Virginian Lodge with a presentation. Following the presentation, the group will visit various sites along the river by vehicle. Attendees will be responsible for their own lunch and transportation.
The tour is an excellent opportunity for local/state elected officials and stakeholders to spend time on site with the WGFD Commissioners discussing motorized regulations and the many reasons a motor ban is needed. Among these reasons are:
- Safety for floaters. There are simply too many non-motorized crafts of all sorts, shapes and maneuverability on the river for motors and floaters to safely co-exist in the busy summer months. The river channel is heavily braided upstream, and line-of-site is not adequate in all areas below South Park Bridge.
- Economics. A 2005 study commissioned by Trout Unlimited and the Henry’s Fork Foundation found that fishing and floating on the Wyoming portion of the Snake River contributed $25.5 million to the local economy, and sustained 268 direct jobs. Increased motorized use would degrade the peaceful experience floaters and anglers are seeking.
- Local impacts and decision making. This is an issue that, above all, impacts Teton County residents. Local elected officials from the town and county are unanimous in their support of a motor ban (an unprecedented occurrence in our recollection). A majority–87% of official comments received during the proposed regulation comment period– were in favor of increased motor regulations. The voice of Teton County residents should to be given the utmost consideration.
No RSVP is required to attend the tour. We hope you will join us for both the tour and the Commissioner meeting.
Please feel free to share this information with anyone who would be interested in attending.
– By Rebecca Reimers, Snake River Fund Executive Director
Filed under: Snake River Fund News on September 11th, 2013