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Winter recreation, national monument discussed in Island Park meeting

Winter recreation, national monument discussed in meeting

ISLAND PARK, Idaho - Recreation is a big part of Island Park's economy. On Tuesday, the Henry's Fork Watershed Council held an all-day meeting to hear presentations on winter recreation.

Speakers represented organizations like Fremont Count Parks and Recreation, Idaho State Snowmobile Association, Idaho Fish and Game, and local Chambers of Commerce. While the meeting was not intended to specifically talk about the potential of a national monument, many had questions about just that.

"From a historical perspective it has happened without public comment, it is simply a group of individuals that say 'Hey this would make a good national monument,'" said Brent Larsen, forest supervisor for Caribou/Targhee National Forest.

With talks of a possible national monument, Fremont County wants to be prepared and proactive. That includes using money from a grant to conduct the Island Park Futures Study.

"The goal of this project is to have a plan; here is what's important," said Larsen.

Island Park Area Chamber of Commerce president Jackie Jensen was among many presenters today. She spoke on the economic impact from snowmobiling and how a national monument could limit the sport.

"There are people that come to our area to ride snowmobiles, to spend their money to buy fuel, groceries, stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and support our community," said Jensen, "I am definitely afraid of closure of trails and our public lands."

Fremont County Special Projects manager Jan Brown says that might not have to be the case.

"There are national monuments around the country that do not have limits on motorized travel and grazing. There is not a one size fits all national monument," said Brown.

When asked why advocates wanted a monument, Brown said, "There are folks who feel that the wildlife resources are important, the connection to Yellowstone, the scientific value of looking at the water resources of the Henry's Fork, the geology here is unique..."

For now the priority is studying Island Park's resources and its future. The studies done under the grant need to be completed by November.

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