here’s why refuge pathway is closed

North Highway 89 pathway near Gros Ventre River last fall.

To the chagrin of many cyclists, the Highway 89 pathway north of town along the National Elk Refuge is closed until April 30.

The closure is part of the deal Teton County arranged with the refuge to build the pathway in 2011. Despite a recent plea by cycling advocate Tim Young to open the path early, the refuge is sticking to the specified dates.

The path offers a velvety-smooth ride 10 miles to Moose and another 8 miles to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. Only the portion along the refuge, between Jackson and Gros Ventre Junction, is closed from Oct. 1 to April 30 each year; the park sections presumably are rideable when free of snow.

Although it may seem aggravating and bureaucracy at its worst, there is a rationale behind the closure. To better explain it, county pathways coordinator Brian Schilling provided the following list of frequently asked questions. The bottom line: Be patient, people, and let the refuge finish studying impacts.

Q: Why is the pathway closed?
A: The pathway is closed from Oct. 1 to April 30 to limit potential conflicts between pathway users and migrating elk in the fall, and to limit disturbance to elk and other wildlife by pathway users during the winter and early spring.

Closing the pathway is the only way to ensure that the elk refuge’s mission of “wildlife first” is respected and remains intact. If the pathway is deemed incompatible with the mission of the elk refuge, it would not be permitted on refuge property. The closure is part of the agreement between the refuge and Teton County for managing the pathway.

In the fall, elk migrate across the highway and search for the one-way openings in the refuge fence. It is not uncommon to see individual elk or large herds searching back and forth along the fence. Experience has shown that even a vehicle parked along the highway is enough to cause elk to bolt, sometimes back across the road. The presence of human pathway users during migration likely would cause elk to run back onto the highway and would place elk, pathway users, vehicles and vehicle occupants at risk of a serious accident.

The closure extends beyond the Gros Ventre River bridge to the junction.

The impacts are slightly different in the winter and springtime for wildlife that have made it safely onto the refuge. By spring, elk and other wildlife are struggling to conserve valuable energy and find feeding opportunities. While winter/spring wildlife are largely accustomed to vehicles on the highway, they are unaccustomed to people on foot or bicycle, and pathway use would cause animals to flee, further stressing their already depleted energy reserves. By the end of April the majority of animals have moved on and food sources are more plentiful. Studies to evaluate the impact of pathway use on wildlife began in 2011 and will help guide future decisions on management of the pathway.

Q: Who owns the pathway?
A: The pathway is located on property owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (National Elk Refuge), but the pathway itself is owned by Teton County. The refuge and county have adopted a memorandum of understanding that sets the rules for the pathway, enforcement of the rules and the ongoing management and evaluation plan. The county is responsible for construction, maintenance and management of the pathway. The refuge is responsible for managing the use of refuge lands, including what is allowable in terms of constructing and using the pathway.

Q: Can I take my dog on the pathway?
A:
Dogs (leashed or otherwise) are not permitted on the pathway at any time. In the winter, when elk are on the refuge, dogs must be kept out of the area to prevent immediate and direct disturbance by dogs to elk. In the summer, when there are no elk on the refuge, dogs must be kept out of the area because dogs can leave scent markings or other disturbances that will cause elk and other wildlife to avoid certain areas. When elk are migrating onto the refuge or looking for winter forage areas, it is critical that there are no disturbances that would cause them to shy away from the elk jumps or available forage areas.

Q: Can I walk on the pathway if there are no elk around or on the refuge?
A:
While the closure is still in effect, there is no public use allowed on the pathway, even if there are no elk anywhere in the area. The concern is not just for elk already on the refuge, but also for migrating elk that are moving through the area.

Kicking it on the Gros Ventre bridge is one of the best features of the new path. (This photo was shot last summer.)

Q: Isn’t the highway the real problem?
A:
Collisions between wildlife and vehicles are a serious problem in Teton County. When elk are moving across the highway in the fall, elk-vehicle collisions are a primary concern for the refuge, which makes significant efforts to reduce the amount of wildlife-vehicle collisions. Neither the refuge nor the county have authority to manage use or operation of the highway. The refuge is only able to manage the use of its property and facilities, such as the pathway. Because pathway use could increase the potential of elk being hit by vehicles, the refuge is compelled to limit that risk as much as possible.

Q: What’s going to happen if I do use the pathway?
A:
Violators of the closure or dog prohibition can be cited for criminal trespass under Wyoming state statutes and/or federal regulations. Teton County has agreed to provide enforcement support to the refuge for pathway violations, and the sheriff’s office has the authority to cite violators. The Fish and Wildlife Service also has the power to cite and prosecute violators under federal law.

Q: Will the closure be re-evaluated or changed?
A:
Studies are underway to evaluate the possible impacts of the pathway on wildlife and the elk refuge’s mission. There are no guarantees that the closure or other regulations will be modified, but the county is working with the refuge to collect the necessary information to make decisions on pathway management. In the absence of data that allow the refuge to re-evaluate the need for the closure, restrictions will remain as they are. It is expected that a minimum of two to three years of data collection will be needed to make informed decisions.

(Top photo by Jacqueline Ra)

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Posted under County Government, Environment, Politics, Sports

47 Comments so far

  1. Pat April 15, 2013 6:52 am

    I rode the highway for decades. Still can. There’s no great difference between riding the highway and the pathway except the highway has a few cars to deal with this time of year. And there’s no great difference between being on the pathway or the highway as far as wildlife is concerned.

    The refuge folks and the bikers have blown their respective concerns into silly extremes.

  2. Ripple April 15, 2013 8:24 am

    Ya but I said I want to ride my bike now, mommy. Right now. All about me.

  3. Absolute BS April 15, 2013 9:39 am

    No. The pathway should be open. That is all.

  4. D April 15, 2013 10:30 am

    Oh how I love this. I love how so many people preach we need more laws, more regulations, save the environment, more regulations, save the wildlife, More More More Regulations, etc.
    And then…..Wait this one is an inconvenience to me!! It must be stopped. This regulation is too much! Big Government bureaucracy, and overreach!

  5. Comedy Anne April 15, 2013 11:24 am

    Riding your bike on the edge of the highway or on the Pathway is a difference of about 10 feet. Bikes only disturb Elk if they’re physically on the pathway? Really?

  6. GloriaB April 15, 2013 11:29 am

    Funny the comments seem to ignore the fact that the safety of humans is typically the issue bikers are concerned about- its not just “I wanna ride it now”. There’s a huge difference between riding the road vs. the pathways!! Sure there may be an ignorant tourist motoring down the pathway in his car from time to time but the safety that the bike path provides can’t be underestimated! This section of road has been the sight of numerous vehicle/ bicycle collisions and even fatalities.
    I will wait patiently and understandingly until April 30 to bike that stretch just for my own safety. All the while I’ll be psyched to live in a town that respects our animal residents too.

  7. neighbors April 15, 2013 5:14 pm

    I’m not sure the hard core biking advocates realize how silly, arrogant and selfish they come across — and how much divisiveness they create for our community.

    As this article explained, the Elk Refuge compromised its mission to allow the pathway on behalf of the community, yet the people who benefit from that compromise just whine that it is not enough. Same thing happened with the separated path in the park. A compromise was struck, and all the biking advocates could/can do is whine about it not being exactly the way they selfishly want it.

    What ever happened to the concept of recreation in nature and actually respecting the nature around you? These days, it’s all about farther, faster, stronger, cooler — and brighter spandex.

  8. dave April 15, 2013 7:09 pm

    the refuge granted an easement for the path, the county accepted the conditions of the easement and the pathway seasonal closure. the refuge offered to study the closure for possibly changing it in the future. what is so hard to understand and accept about that?
    why can’t spandex accept that, they like to ride the pavement anyway.
    when you make a deal you make a deal. live with it. thankfully the refuge has decided to study it for a possible change in the closure.
    why do some people have such a hard time following rules?

  9. skip April 15, 2013 9:13 pm

    Should’ve built the path on the west side of the highway…

  10. Morgan Nields April 15, 2013 10:04 pm

    Thanks for laying out the issues for the refuge and the town in an unbiased and informative manner Jim. For cyclists, including myself, the News and Guide article does a good job stirring the pot towards the pathway closure.

    GloriaB nails it when she states the pathway should be open for the safety of the cyclists. This section of highway is the gateway to the park for Jackson, and it does have a history of cyclist mortalities. Closing the path through April because cyclists may be disturbing the well fed Elk on the other side of the 6 foot fence is not a good enough reason to risk another death on the highway.

    April is the month cyclists flock to the park to enjoy the wide open roads that are still closed to traffic. The Park’s open roads and the bike paths leading there offer the perfect way to recreate in nature and take in all it’s beauty. Edward Abbey would be proud of the cyclists leaving their cars behind to get out and experience our parks on one’s own volition. Closing such a pristine and safe path, to and from such an experience is tragic, and it’s no wonder cyclists are outraged. One can only hope the Elk refuge will change their policy towards its path closures, bringing more safety to the growing # of Jackson’s cyclists. By the way, Safety is also the reason cyclists where the brightest spandex available, not to look cool.

  11. Sue April 16, 2013 9:29 am

    The pathway was a huge waste of Federal funds due to its limited availability, our national debt, and the fact that it was built for pleasure-seeking cyclist in Jackson instead of, say, biking commuters in a major city. Putting aside the cost justification, a pathway up Spring Gulch and bypassing the refuge would have been a better idea – a beautiful ride.

  12. Yukon Cornelius April 16, 2013 9:46 am

    Morgan – Maybe try riding somewhere not in a mass migration route for a couple weeks? I get your point the pathway is safer than the highway but you’re completely over the top. Last I knew April was for mud, 2 for 1 entrees, and nobody in town. Not throngs of cyclist flocking to our pathways and parks.

  13. david April 16, 2013 11:36 am

    Are the bikers who are worried about afety the same ones who blow stop signs and fly down Teton Pass? If safety is an issue for a rider, then don’t ride. You’re riding or pleasure not because you need to get to work so you can feed your family. Biking commuters in Los Angeles would be thrilled with a shoulder as wide as the one on Highway 89. How many bike-car accidents have there been on the 5.5 miles of highway next to the refuge? I can’t remember any. What did all these complaining die-hards do before the pathway was built? I can wait for the end of April to ride this boring section of pathway especially when it’s cold, wet, and windy.

  14. HAHA April 16, 2013 4:10 pm

    The disease-infested petting zoo (and hunting farm) known as the National Elk Refuge is worried about the health of the elk?

  15. cv April 16, 2013 4:19 pm

    I use 89 5 days a week to get to work and would be devestated if I hurt someone on it. Not just a cyclist issue. This reg. makes no sense, spin it how you want.

  16. johan fartanion April 16, 2013 6:42 pm

    The problem with this is the inevitable, unstoppable development creep…even here in this immature whiny rich bastion of progressivistavism. It really doesnt matter what we’re talking about: a walking path, an ATV trail, an area open to snowmachines in winter or a bike path, ahem, Bike Pathway, it is an intrusion, or expansion if you prefer, and I don’t see too much progress in the feeble efforts to enlarge our wild areas….10 feet wide for 10 miles (or whatever it is) is a lot of real estate, add up the path in the Park and all of that schwanky new housing and administration-building-so-all-us-hard-workin-Guv’ment-employee-“Rangers”-can-reallygetdowntosomeseriousworktimesurfinandemailin’onyotaxdollahz. You can’t play both sides of this folks…you’re either in for the enviro or you aren’t, or you’re a compromisin’ two-faced sucka who only idles when it’s clear you won’t be criticized by your peers. Sure it’s next to a highway…is that the best you’ve got? That highway used to be a pretty nice meadow and riparian area where a wolf or cougar could catch a snack before there were roads. Then there were trails, then dirt roads, then paved roads, and now, ahem, a Pathway. Here’s the development two-step: “Since there’s a friggin’ highway there and I almost got run down by that toothless freak in a Winnebago checkin’ out my supremely-toned testament to core strength and V02 max, Let’s make a bike path, sheeeit I know it sucks it’s closed in winter but hey, I’m goin’ to be gettin’ my rando on (didja check my saaaweeeeet new ultralight planks…only 2 grand cuzza my propee-pro-pro dealio!) and besides we can bitch about that later once we get a toehold year round for our snowbikes and really EFF this place up with bridges and such, there ain’t no goin’ back…damn, one o’ them chubby tourists who got in over its head on a 75 lb rental cruiser from Hooback Rentalicious needs a crapper (Barron’s all over this like white on Wilson) because they’re droppin’ bombs and leakin’ all over the place and no green baggies for my peeps: too inhumane and damned embarrassing besides…damn! some of that choco-chip TP just TOTALLY dicked up my Campy Super Record…and that wind gets pretty bad most days so let’s build an eco-hut rest stop, maybe twenty, with some solar (did I mention I’m in sales?)…hey, one o’ my cart-pushin” baby-mamas is gettin’ run down by them fast skinny dudes in tights, we need to widen that, ahem, Pathway. Hey, new Department of Homeland Big-Brotherly (yep, the old DH2B! or is it DHB2…?….!…sheeeeyit, drone overhead with my profile in it!) has just ordained with extreme prejudice that all bike paths need to be made into wide roads so that tanks…errrr, emergency vehicles, can get through when that volcano blows up or we do that annual hunter/gun-owner round-up and branding. Maybe the folks who negotiated the path in the first place should’ve decided to build it elsewhere (damn, that takes some planning and…patience?) Better yet, invest the money in something worthwhile like a rec center without the 98.6w kiddie pool w/weekly babyruth bars floatin by and the resulting chlorine level that melts your speedo to a vulgar degree of see-throughness (I thought he said the water was warm?) in one or two workouts, or school teachers and facilities in this city so we can do dual immersion throughout the valley and add a language or two besides Ezpanish. The shoddily crafted article in the local propaganda rag where the cyclists provided examples of how the elk weren’t frightened when they cycled and walked by, EFFIN FUH-NEEE! Now there is the gold standard of objective testing. As it stands now, the path is built, it’s a great place for lokey-lokes and the occasional touron hardman/lady to get a scenic workout for a good chunk of the year. Maybe give the elk just a bit of a break, in winter….or not.

  17. Ripple April 16, 2013 7:12 pm

    How about if people just slowed down in their SUV wagons and F350’s and watched out for cyclists, elk, bison, and anything else that might happen to be on the border of a national park?

    Oh wait, I forgot, people are trying to recreate. Never mind.

  18. John April 17, 2013 8:25 am

    Wow johan, you could have been quite the writer if you hadn’t pissed it all away on whiskey, pickup trucks, and lost dogs. I agree with you about the rec center though.

  19. D April 17, 2013 9:45 am

    Ripple what about a Duramax & Cummins? F350’s blow.

  20. Comedy Anne April 17, 2013 10:31 am

    I’m sure you had a point Johan, but I only made it through the first 1/3 of your annoying writing, or in your case writin’ before I decided not to waste anymore time.

  21. Jim Stanford April 17, 2013 10:43 am

    Johan’s got a future in bloggin’. I’m ready to give him his own column.

  22. joe April 17, 2013 12:08 pm

    this was all stirred up by the news/guide at schilling’s expense.
    the angus murdock school of divisive community journalism. sad

  23. Aaron April 17, 2013 1:54 pm

    The pathway being closed is perhaps the stupidest law in Jackson. Hopefully a cyclist will get run over by a camper soon encouraging the reevaluation of the law. The idea that we can’t do anything about the cars and elk but adding cyclists to the mix would be even more dangerous is ridiculous. Thousands of cars weighing tons use the road every day but adding maybe 200 skinny cyclists is going to create a major additional obstruction for elk?

  24. cv April 17, 2013 3:00 pm

    What Aaron? Hopefully a cyclist will be run over? I mean, Im no supporter of the ban but that doesnt mean Im hoping someone dies so it changes. Check yourself before you post idiotic things publicly, lest the public think your an idiot!

  25. Beth April 17, 2013 4:06 pm

    “here’s why refuge pathway is closed”

    S T U P I D I T Y.

    Stupidity is a lack of intelligence, understanding, reason, wit, or sense.

  26. Will April 17, 2013 6:29 pm

    Beth, you are absolutely onto something! Next we’ll demand a government-sponsored 24/7 CAT1 rickshaw service between Town Square, the airport and GTNP HQ. STUPIDITY is what got that pathway built in the first place. Only STUPIDITY will be to blame if the FIsh and Game folks give in and open the path to a longer season. It was a waste of tax and other dollars and now the hue and cry over the winter closure is nothing but stupid….perhaps someone should have thought of the dramatic impact of the closure on the health, mental welfare and fitness of the jackson hole cyclist during the concept phase instead of well after it was built. Let me guess, in winter it would serve two purposes: snow-biking and skate skiing (okay three if you include plodding aimlessly through snow along a highway)….well of course that would demand specialized grooming, and a PRO-PATHWAY ALLIANCE or some other hastily crafted .org can hire someone to prove grooming machines don’t bother the elk, coyotes, cougars, bison, trout, etc. any more than bicyclists….and then create a new tax in town to pay for it. Hey, how about a spandex or carbon fibre tax! Let’s take a look at the number of people living/staying here and the number of tourists driving through and compare that to daily usage statistics on that section of pathway when it’s open. It seems that that section of pathway is mostly empty once you get 5 miles north of town, even in the height of summer tourist season. It’s about twenty miles to the park and back to town, right? Do legions of average tourists coming from sea level really come here with the legs and lungs to do this? Is a 1-20 mile ride along a highway something a lot of people come here for? Sure, it’s a great path but it’s not nearly as important as about two dozen other infrastructure shortfalls and unfunded initiatives in Teton County, like programs for the poor, education, ice rink, etc. Maybe folks should be glad that this thing got built in the first place and quit complaining on behalf of an even smaller number of users who would use it during the winter and mud season.

  27. Sam April 17, 2013 9:53 pm

    Will, you are an idiot if you don’t understand the long term importance of the path, and can’t understand the disappointment of the people who worked so hard to get it done. It saves lives, and it is a piece of the tourism puzzle. Eventually the path will combine to make a safe loop all the way to Wilson from the park, into town. It is important to the future, and it is important to the people who worked hard to get it done.

    So, why is it closed?

    Because S T U P I D I T Y and B E A U R O C R A T I C E N T I T L E M E N T

    The path is ten feet from the road. You don’t have to be Einstein to recognize that the ‘relativity’ here, from the perspective of an elk, is IRRELEVANT.

    “Oh, that bike is ten feet closer to me on this TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND ACRE RESERVE, I’m sooo stressed out. I now have to move ten feet further away to reduce my elkly stress levels.”

    WTF? Seriously? Seriously? No… Really? These are the SAME elk that hang out and watch the horses and sleighs all winter, and the same bikers, joggers and cars on the east refuge road, but the FREAKING BIKE PATH is TOO MUCH?

    There is NO reasonable explanation, and there is not one iota of research to suggest that, under the totality of the circumstances, a strip of asphalt on the side of the road makes one damn bit of difference.

    THE CLOSURE IS LUNACY. LOONEY TOONS. IDIOCY.

  28. neighbors April 17, 2013 11:02 pm

    I agree, Will: “Sure, it’s a great path but it’s not nearly as important as about two dozen other infrastructure shortfalls and unfunded initiatives in Teton County, like programs for the poor, education, ice rink, etc. Maybe folks should be glad that this thing got built in the first place and quit complaining on behalf of an even smaller number of users who would use it during the winter and mud season.”

    I’ve always thought a reasonable pathway system is a nice amenity for our community, especially where they can be used by kids getting to school and commuters. But the more vocal demands the pathway activists make on behalf of a small percentage of residents who just want a bigger playground, the more I start adding up the costs. Where else could those dollars be going?

    The Grand Teton Park paths are estimated to cost $30 million by the time they’re done. The Wilson bike bridge section is estimated at more than $4 million. The South Park path project is estimated at $1 million. Hwy. 22 path construction is estimated at $6 million. Plus others. And then there’s the perpetual maintenance costs and reconstruction. (Please correct me if I’m wrong on these figures – they are from a quick web search.)

    That’s a lot of day care providers, teachers, books, tutors, nurses, food bank donations, heating bill payments, postal clerks, scholarships and medical treatments.

  29. Ripple April 17, 2013 11:07 pm

    Jackson Hole: where whiners go to breed.

    Sounds like a group therapy session is in order. Sam, maybe at your place?

    Yeah D I just found out how much F350’s cost. How can so many people afford to pay that for a truck? And then blow all that dough on gassing up and down the highways at 75+?

    America, f**k yeah!

  30. D April 18, 2013 8:33 am

    I don’t know how they afford it… I stick with a standard Silverado 1500.

    This post makes it official JH’s big government liberal Ameritopia idea has come full circle. It’s all downhill from here. Speaking of downhill do you think they can make the pathway downhill both ways? That way it might get used in this mythical tourist puzzle.

  31. Chad April 18, 2013 11:54 am

    This ‘big government liberal Ameritopia’ has created arguably the best place in the world to live.

    Perhaps you should seek refuge in free-market Shitholia, Mississippi (pop. None of the gubment’s bizness!). It might be more your speed; backwards at 50mph. Plus, given the state of science there, you might find a few physicists who can make downhill both ways work…on paper. And if its on paper, like the bible and constitution, its infallible.

    Bon voyage!

  32. Charlie April 18, 2013 2:43 pm

    I have never seen an elk between the refuge fence and the highway in 9 years of driving 5 days a week during the middle of the day – fall or spring.

    During the spring elk have to go to the GV River to exit the refuge – or walk through town. After the river, you’re in GTNP and the pathway is open to bikers.

    Has anyone ever seen an elk between the highway and the fence south of the GV during the spring?

    Anyone?

  33. Sam April 18, 2013 5:39 pm

    @ Charlie: Never. Ever. Notevenonce.

  34. neighbors April 18, 2013 8:21 pm

    @ Charlie: That’s funny you’ve lived here all this time and have never seen any. I drive that way only periodically, and I have seen elk in that area at least a few times. Once in the Fall, (pre-pathway) I even saw some confused elk by the fence south of the museum darting back toward the road, then they were spooked by a couple of gawkers in stopped cars, then they went back to the fence and were darting up and down the fence line trying to figure out how to get into the refuge. I’ve also seen geese nesting with eggs right where the pathway now resides.

    I have trouble understanding why people think recreating on pavement is more important to the future of Jackson Hole than wildlife and habitat. There are many places in this country you ride bikes on pavement for recreation; there are only a few places that still have wildlife.

    Here’s an example where the government struck a compromise between recreation and nature, but that’s not good enough for spandex.

  35. Jon April 18, 2013 9:20 pm

    Childish argument here. Bike somewhere else for now. The elk don’t care either. Leaving the hospital after work in the evening, there are hundreds right now only a few feet over the fence from where we park.Those elk do nothing except eat grass when we get in our cars. Maybe we should close off the rest of the hospital parking.Or stop the hospital construction-which they have also been oblivious to. Kind of strange how uptight people are in Jackson

  36. Yukon Cornelius April 18, 2013 10:23 pm

    Sam you got your pathway. Now why don’t you just stfu and play by the rules set for it. Hey look I can do it too. E N T I T L E M E N T. Like there aren’t any other places to ride your bike in the valley. Grow up.

  37. Ripple April 18, 2013 11:30 pm

    Neighbors, you pretty much nailed it.

    Never mind the bike path closure. The saddest part of this whole “controversy” is that even when people live in a place that has absolutely everything, it still ain’t enough.

    Let that be a lesson to you kids out there: strive to be content and learn to recognize the difference between true injustice as opposed to the imaginary kind that plagues the spoiled.

  38. Charlie April 19, 2013 7:04 am

    neighbors:

    Lived here a long time, driven the road 5-days-a-week only 9 years.

    You have seen elk in the SPRING between the highway and the fence south of the GV?
    If so, you’re the only one that I know of. Any pictures?

    I have no beef in the pot when it comes to opening the pathway. I was just expressing the fact that I have never seen any elk between the fence & the highway during the day.

    Elk adapt and evolve. Wyoming Game and Fish biologists counted 11,051 elk in the Jackson Elk Herd. They’ll be OK. Opening the pathway isn’t a real threat their long-term health and welfare. Wolves & hunters will kill more than bikers.

  39. dave April 19, 2013 8:24 am

    i have seen plenty of elk trying to get in the refuge from the hwy north of town.

    AGAIN: the county made a deal with conditions accepted from the refuge to develop the path. NOW: the refuge is studying a possible change to the closure. the study will not be completed in time for spandex to enjoy their latte and mashed baby food this spring. they are indeed a righteous bunch.

  40. Paula April 19, 2013 11:52 am

    Elk aren’t trying to get to the refuge in the spring south of the Gros Ventre.

    Before the pathway was built, hikers could walk in the right-of-way and none cared.

    None has offered any evidence that bikers on the pathway are a greater threat to elk than riders on the highway. None has proved they aren’t.

    The comments are all driven by emotion. The wildlife-first crowd and the bikers-first crowd should get a grip on reality.

  41. KB April 21, 2013 12:37 pm

    Talk about a sense of entitlement! The motorheads have ruled the world for so long that they cannot tolerate the thought of another form of transportation being viable.
    If life were held in as much esteem in this culture as motor vehicles and firearms, this would not be an issue. So it goes.

  42. barb April 21, 2013 4:42 pm

    Paula:

    Here are some facts according to a story in the NAG:

    Wyoming hunters killed over 26,000 elk during the last hunting season. 57,331 licenses were issued to elk hunters. Over 22,000 Wyoming elk have been killed by hunters in each of the last 10 years.

    Climate change is “favorable” to elk and herd segments in southern GTNP have “blossomed”.

    ———————————-

    The good-intentioned elk lovers are over-reacting to the threat posed by pathway users. The real threats are elsewhere – hunters, bears, wolves, cars, disease, and perhaps the refuge itself.

    I am a cyclist, so I may be biased. I don’t mind using the highway shoulder if the highway is clean (little rocks are shot at bikers by car tires). I don’t cycle unless the weather is above 50, calm and dry so I have less of an interest in using the pathway when it’s closed.

    I’m happy to wait for the pathway to open but that doesn’t mean I think the elk are endangered by pathway users.

  43. bf April 21, 2013 8:35 pm

    Hard to believe cyclists on the path would have more of an impact on the elk than thousands of people getting pulled around the refuge every winter within hundreds of feet of elk in a horse drawn sleigh….

    Maybe if there was a fee, the pathway use would be approved quicker by the refuge!

  44. yeehaw May 1, 2013 5:57 am

    open

  45. Common Sense May 1, 2013 9:32 pm

    Its ridicules- open the path— why would you take my tax dollar and waste it on the oath then tell us we cant use it? Theres government we can do without— And just in case any of you didn’t notice– wildlife are smart– they would easily adapt—- I’d suggest if they wont willing open the path we do a occupy pathways event and occupy them anyway— this is ridicules–

  46. Steve May 3, 2013 6:49 am

    It’s time to put the eco-nazis and the wildlife whackjobs in the looney bin.

    These people, these brain-dead harebrained dope-headed yoga-panted trust-funded dumber-than-a-dimestore-donkey-ride pharmaceutically-damaged Cosmic-Cafeing Whole-Fooding hemp-smelling transcendental-Twinkie-thinkers have lost their last marble.

    According to them, the berm at the ol’ Puzzleface has been an ecological eyesore & disaster that’s comparable to a Vegas marquee atop a Superfund site. According to them, daytime users of the Village Road must be guided by a professional wildlife driver going 25 miles per hour. According to them, the endangered elk need protection from a few pathway users but they don’t need protection from millions of hunters. According to them, deer will suffer unfathomable consequences if you poach deer antlers “out-of-season” from a ski run. According to them, your life has less value than a charging bear’s. Yadda Yadda Yadda.

    Somebody make it legal to shoot these people so we can put ‘em out of their misery.

  47. Scott May 7, 2013 7:14 am

    Arbitrary deadlines are interesting. April 30th: you can’t ride the pathway. May 1st: the refuge managers are hazing elk off the land.

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