Flat Creek flood fight

By Jim Stanford on January 21, 2014

Comments: 13 Comments

An excavator clears ice from rocks in Flat Creek on Saturday. By Sunday, five trackhoes were working in the creek to alleviate flooding.

Flooding caused by ice formation along Flat Creek came to a head this weekend, and the town again had to assist homeowners in breaking up the ice.

After being contacted by constituents in the neighborhood, I went out there with Mayor Mark Barron on Saturday to survey the flooding, ice buildup and efforts by residents to protect their property. The flooding affected homes from Stacy Lane to Crabtree Lane and was some of the worst people had ever seen.

In a matter of hours Friday, I’m told, the level of the water and ice rose about 3 feet. This came after I tried to walk the pathway behind the post office Thursday and found it impassable.

Putting heavy equipment into the creek to break up the ice is not a delicate operation, despite the operators’ best efforts. The ice was 3 feet thick or more, and anchored to the stream bottom in places. For every trackhoe breaking it up, two more were needed to scoop up the loose ice floating downstream, else a jam could form and cause even worse flooding.

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recycling center accepting more plastic

By Jim Stanford on January 7, 2014

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Sublette County Commissioner John Linn kneels at the perimeter of the landfill near Big Piney. Note the abundance of plastic strewn about and beyond the fence.

Plastic bags thrown in the trash end up all over the landscape, from the beaches of Hawaii to the sand dunes of the Sahara. Dramatic images from coastal areas show creatures like an otter, dolphin and turtle ensnared by plastic.

Here in the West, plastic blows across the sagebrush plains like tumbleweed and ends up in our streams and forests. To reduce this pollution as well as the cost of hauling trash, our recycling center greatly has expanded the types of plastic bags and packaging it will accept.

Bread bags, produce bags, Ziplocs, bubble wrap, dry cleaning bags and Visqueen-type sheeting are among the types of plastic residents now may recycle, along with grocery bags. Plastic wrap used to package paper towels, napkins, toilet paper and such also can be recycled. A full list can be found here.

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leaves accepted free for composting

By Jim Stanford on October 24, 2013

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Autumn leaves could help nurture gardens next spring. Grass, branches and shrubs also accepted.

While most trees have been bare for weeks, remarkably some cottonwoods and aspens in east Jackson are just now hitting peak color.

All that foliage on the ground leaves residents with a quandary: rake them out onto the street, where they eventually clog drains (definitely not advised); do nothing, and hope they blow into neighbors’ yards (probably not advised), or bag them to send them off to the landfill in Idaho Falls (expensive and wasteful).

Teton County Integrated Solid Waste is offering a new alternative this year: accepting yard waste for free at the trash transfer station, where it will be made into compost.

Residents may drop off trees, branches, shrubs, grass, leaves and weeds through Saturday. The station is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The offer does not apply to businesses.

Last spring, the recycling program offered free bags and collected yard waste, with the help of the town public works department, to be made into compost. It’s possible with more funding the service could be expanded next fall. With cleanup of the old landfill south of town and planning underway for an improved trash transfer and recycling center, the community has an opportunity to create a more comprehensive composting program.

While composting is not highly profitable, it’s cheaper than paying to ship grass and leaves to Idaho Falls. And for a valley known for its rocky, poor soil, the compost could help the growing local agriculture movement.

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‘effective’ population now 60,000

By Jim Stanford on August 30, 2013

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Crowd at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. During the peak of summer, Teton County draws 24,000 visitors per day. Total annual visitation is closer to 1 million people, rather than the 3 million often touted.

A few months ago, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk raised eyebrows when, at a joint meeting of town and county leaders, he said the park does not have 3 million visitors per year, as often touted. Rather, Wenk said, the park attracts more like 1.5 million people, some of whom visit multiple times.

A study released by the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance this month further calls into question the widely held notion that Teton County hosts 3 million — sometimes stretched to 4 million — visitors per year.

The study gives a snapshot of the county’s “effective population,” or the total number of people found here at a given time. The tally combines permanent residents, second home owners, seasonal workers, commuters and tourists.

At the peak of summer (July 15), that total is more than 60,000. In winter (Feb. 15), the effective population is 40,000, and even in the shoulder seasons (April and November) the tally is 30,000.

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town seeks input on lodging

By Jim Stanford on April 4, 2013

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Nearly 20 years ago, the community drew a boundary around town where lodging — hotels, B&Bs, short-term rentals — would be permitted. The goal was to concentrate tourists around the Square and in areas where services and amenities are easily available.

Now, in an era of VRBO and AirBnb, those boundaries have been muddied. Also, developers are pitching new hotels on North Cache and the old Sagebrush Motel site on Flat Creek, west of Staples.

The Town of Jackson is seeking input from citizens on where lodging should be allowed. Planners are taking a fresh look at the boundary, called the lodging overlay, as they begin to write regulations for the new Comprehensive Plan.

It’s a key decision because lodging generally is seen as the most profitable use of land, meaning property owners could stand to gain or lose value. Also, the community wants to preserve the quiet character of residential neighborhoods.

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