Controversial proposal rejected on Jan. 22 by Forest Service-

In a news release the Jackson Hole Alliance celebrated the end of the proposal to combine national forests in Idaho and Wyoming that include some of the West’s best wildlife and scenery.  There is still on the table, however, the idea that perhaps the headquarters (the supervisor’s office) of the Bridger-Teton National Forest should be moved out of Jackson, Wyoming.

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Bridger-Teton National Forest Supervisor Jacque Buchanan announced the good news Tuesday morning.

“This ill-conceived idea would have threatened the community and forest resources,” Alliance Wildlands Director Cory Hatch said. “The death of the Caribou-Targhee/Bridger-Teton merger is a huge victory for those who care about wild places.”

Regional Forester Harv Forsgren announced the proposal late last year just days before his retirement.

Forsgren’s proposal came despite a 2007 Forest Service study said mergers rarely save money in the long term and often leave communities in the lurch when Forest Service employees are moved out of town.

In a letter last week to Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, the Alliance outlined the arguments against the merger, saying that the 6.5 million acre Bridger-Caribou-Targhee-Teton National Forest—the largest in the lower 48 states—would have been a management nightmare. This letter was circulated widely by many high-level retired forest service employees who strongly agreed with the concerns raised by the Alliance.

“This mega forest would have been an unwieldy Frankenstein’s Monster that straddled two states and numerous Congressional districts,” Hatch said. “Under one management structure, Forest Service leaders would have attempted to effectively manage mining, energy development, motorized recreation, wilderness, non-motorized recreation and world class wildlife—an impossible task.”

Alliance members deserve credit for the victory, Hatch said. “With your financial support, we were nimble enough to mobilize quickly, gather the necessary data, meet with Wyoming’s Congressional Delegation and local elected officials, write letters, and plan a community forum in just a few short weeks,” he said. “It’s a great example of grassroots advocacy in action.”

However, there are lots of battles left to win. The Forest Service Region 4 office is still considering whether to move the Bridger-Teton Forest Supervisor’s office out of Jackson, and 10 acres of Forest Service property on North Cache goes up for public auction this summer. “We must remain vigilant,” Hatch said.

The community forum on the merger scheduled for Tuesday night has been canceled.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

4 Responses to Forest Service calls off Bridger-Teton merger with Caribou-Targhee National Forest

  1. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    As seen thru the Snark-O-Scope : the proposal to merge ( again) the two national forests was sold as a smaller , more efficient, more consolidated government initiative intended to save the taxpayers money , but it was such a bad idea that even Wyoming’s deficit dog Rep. Cynthia Lummis was against it.

  2. avatar Kayla says:

    Yea!!! This is Great news! Am rejoicing here in Jackson.

  3. avatar Richie G says:

    Nice to hear it would only have been a path for the national parks to go down hill as I was reading the comments before. Great

  4. avatar alf says:

    Good news, indeed !

    I understand that there’s also a proposal to combine the Nez Perce and Clearwater. That should have an oak stake driven through its heart, too.

    Any others that I haven’t heard about ?

    With all the consolidations of ranger districts and forests over the years, taken to it’s illogical logical conclusion, we’ll end up with no regional offices, nine national forests that were once called regional offices, and 70 or 80 one-time national forests, now to be called ranger districts.

    And the public will suffer, and morale within the agency will suffer.

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