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Teton Commissioners want Palisades wilderness study designation changed

Teton County, Idaho Commissioners are encouraging a Bridger Teton National Forest advisory committee to push for re-designation of the Palisades Wilderness Study Area. Commissioners approved the recommendation on a two-to-one vote Monday.

In a letter to the committee and Idaho’s Congressional delegation, Commission Chairman Mark Ricks wrote county residents want to maintain the rural character and heritage of the area.

The region was declared a study area in the Wyoming Wilderness Act of 1984, but there have been no recommendations on its management since then. The wilderness study designation allowed for grazing, oil and gas exploration, and snowmachine use under certain limitations.

In his letter, Ricks said, “Thirty-four years later, neither the Secretary of Agriculture, the President, nor Congress has taken any step to recommend the Palisades WSA be released from consideration of designated as a wilderness area. The management of these lands is in limbo.”

The letter claims other wilderness areas, like the Jedediah Smith Wilderness, have been managed for specific purposes, like wildlife habitat, to the detriment of other uses.

Ricks said removal of the designation would open the area for other uses including heli-skiing and expanded snowmobile and motorized back-country access.

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