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Island Park community curious of national monument designation

The Henry’s Fork Watershed Council held a public meeting Tuesday afternoon, and one of the topics on the agenda was the possibility of Island Park becoming a National Monument.

The meeting wasn’t intended to be about a National Monument designation, but Henry’s Fork Foundation executive director Brandon Hoffner said it is why a lot of people attended.

“This meeting today was designated to talk about a Futures Study of the Island Park area, specifically the Island Park resource assessment,” said Hoffner.

Local government, nonprofits, citizens, and state and federal agencies were all represented at the meeting. First and foremost to learn more about the Futures Study, meant to better understand the Island Park area.

Thanks to a HUD grant, the Futures Study will look at economics, carrying capacity and how that plays into wildlife. It will also examine the impacts and trends of fishing, hunting, snowmobiling and other winter recreation within the area.

“Also, hopefully set the stage for a management plan,” said Hoffner. “Then, if there ever is more discussion about a national monument we’d be prepared as a local community, as Fremont County, for that situation.”

At the tail end of George W. Bush’s second term, the administration explored the idea of designating Island Park as a National Monument. At that time, Jim Caswell was in Washington D.C., working as the director of the Bureau of Land Management.

“We just didn’t have the time to connect locally with communities, and really work on that issue at the time,” said Caswell. “So, it went away when the administration changed.”

People within and around the community have remained intrigued by the thought. Caswell said while the plan to evaluate and better understand Island Park is discussed, it’s logical some community members question the possibility of a national monument designation. He also said any serious discussion is far too early.

“It’s really premature, because maybe the model that’s in place is good enough,” said Caswell.

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