Strides made at Wilson

Season’s greetings! As we look ahead toward 2013, several projects are moving along to enhance river access and enjoyment upstream of the Wilson Bridge, including the Rendezvous Park and pathway bridge. The Snake River Fund continues to work with a variety of partners to provide services and assist in planning efforts.

First, Teton County is preparing to take ownership of parcels in the vicinity of Wilson and South Park formerly managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The county held an open house last month to give an overview of the project and take input from river users. The planning schedule calls for a series of public meetings and drafting of site designs this spring.

Elected officials will begin considering a management plan in March and aim to have a short-term lease agreement with the BLM by the end of 2013. The lease would allow for improvements while the federal government formally approves the transfer.

The Fund has reinvigorated the task force helping to coordinate the transfer for all of the BLM parcels along the river, totaling nearly 1,000 acres. This year the Fund spent more than $30,000 for managing the stretch between Wilson and South Park, including regrading the boat ramp after the spring runoff, maintenance of bathrooms and trash pickup at Wilson, and the highly successful River Ambassador program. Jay Pistono served in the post for a third season, working to educate users and alleviate congestion and conflicts. The Fund has strengthened its partnership with Teton County and will be helping with public outreach for the transfer project.

The South Park stretch contains several BLM parcels being transferred.

Parks and Rec collected usage data and surveyed citizens over the summer to see what sort of facilities they would like to see at the Wilson and South Park access points. Among the amenities rated highest were a swimming area and walking trails at Wilson, as well as restrooms and improved parking at South Park. Maps, survey results and an overview of the project are posted on the Parks and Rec website.

The transfer process will govern the 10-acre parcel on the northwest side of the Wilson Bridge where the boat ramp is located. The adjoining 40 acres upstream compose the new Rendezvous Park, formerly known as River Springs. A partnership of the LOR Foundation and Jackson Hole Land Trust, the park is privately owned but will be open to the public and integrated with nearby river amenities. Reclamation of the old gravel pit began last fall, laying the foundation for the park to take shape this summer. Limited access is planned for late 2013. To view the conceptual master plan, click here.

One of the enhancements the Rendezvous Park will link to is the new pathway bridge over the Snake River. Teton County expects to begin building the bridge this spring and finish construction by October. Connecting paths to highways 22 and 390 also will be in place by fall. While completing environmental studies and design work, the engineering team also has been meeting requirements for the planned upgrade of the Wilson boat ramp area.

Look for more exciting news on these projects in the new year!

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