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Jackson and Teton County worry national park activity could endanger the community

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JACKSON, Wyo. (KIFI/KIDK)-Teton County, Wyoming Commissioners and the Jackson Town Council are asking federal land managers to rethink their plans. They believe park operations, in particular, could impact the health of Teton County residents.

In a letter to the Superintendents of Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and the Supervisor of the Bridger Teton National Forest, the town and county joined St. John's Health warned the agencies that the community has limited capacity for critical health care services and an influx of visitors could increase peak demand for critical care. The town and county believe that could limit the community's capacity to treat those visitors.

The letter states, "We have taken these steps in order to reduce the peak demand for critical health care services, and to attempt to keep that demand in line with our treatment capacity. While our hospital is as prepared as possible, it has a limited capacity to treat residents of our county, and a large and sudden increase in the number of patients needing critical care services could overwhelm its capacity and our ability to treat everyone in need."

You can read the full content of the three letters here.

The town and county ask the National Parks to keep those concerns in mind as they make management decisions.

Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly says the two parks are taking the request seriously. Sholly issued this response:

"Yellowstone has received a substantial number requests to temporarily close, from state and local partners, including the governors of Montana and Wyoming, health officials from all surrounding counties, and local government leadership. The park began receiving these requests late in the day on Sunday, March 22, through today and we immediately began conversing with National Park Service and the Department of the Interior to determine the best course of action. I have been in direct contact with the governors, many local leaders, and health officials within our gateway communities and counties."

Sholly said the Park is taking the requests seriously and would communicate decisions in the near future.

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