June 20th marked the deadline for submitting comments on the NPS scoping of its Teton Bighorn Sheep Winter Habitat Protection plan. The TCC worked with the Teton Backcountry Alliance, Winter Wildlands Alliance, the Access Fund, and the American Alpine Club to develop and administer an on-line survey for Teton winter backcountry users. The results of the survey were used to inform its joint comments.  

Links to the comment letter and the on-line survey report may be found in the following links:

After listening to our community of Teton climbers and skiers, we outlined a position that:

  • encourages more education and public outreach
  • encourages more monitoring and research on sheep ecology and human-sheep interactions
  • advocates for an adaptive management program that involves backcountry users as well as scientists to periodically review past experience, draw on lessons learned, and modify the plan as needed.

We also recommended that high-use backcountry areas be treated differently than low-use areas with respect to the type of closures applied.

As well, we communicated comments on specific backcountry traveler routes (ascents and descents) based on what we heard in the survey. We encourage you to read the comment letter and the survey report, especially its many quotes from members of our community.
In the future, the NPS will release its draft assessment, listing alternative actions to be reviewed further.  At that time, our organizations, with input from our respective communities, will have an opportunity to comment again. At that juncture, we plan to convene public meetings so we can discuss the NPS’s alternatives.

In the face of climate change, on-going land-use change, and greater pressures from tourism, our Teton Range is on the verge of an environmental crisis. Working to ensure the long-term survival of Teton bighorn sheep is a small step our community can take to make a difference. We greatly appreciate your support as we work to address Teton bighorn sheep conservation in a way allows for a compatible level of winter wilderness travel.