Bridger-Teton seeking alternate site for Boy Scout project due to Rainbow gathering
Scout project has been in planning stages for 3 years-now being moved over safety concerns
by Bridger-Teton National Forest
June 24, 2008
The Bridger-Teton National Forest leadership is working with the leaders of the Boy Scout's Order of the Arrow to identify, prepare, and plan an alternate service project location for 150 Boy Scouts. The Forest had been working with the Boy Scouts for three years on a series of fence removal and wildlife habitat enhancement projects to be completed July 28- August 1, 2008 in the Dutch Joe and Big Sandy area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, in addition to several other projects throughout the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Due to a scheduling conflict with the Rainbow Family, who only recently planned to use the same site, the Boy Scout’s leadership has asked for this portion of their service project to be relocated to another portion of the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
"The Bridger-Teton is still firmly committed to providing the Boy Scouts with a primitive experience that will allow them to implement the training and preparation they have been diligently preparing for the past three years," said Forest Supervisor Kniffy Hamilton. Forest leaders are identifying other areas of the Bridger-Teton that have similar project work in order to allow the skills and training the Scouts have already accomplished to be applicable. "This is the largest service undertaking the Scouts have made since World War II. The Bridger-Teton projects will be the fifth and final set of projects for the Boy Scouts," said Hamilton.
The Scout’s are currently conducting their third, highly successful, service project in the George Washington Jefferson National Forest in Virginia. The Boy Scouts will still conduct their other service work on the rest of the Bridger-Teton during the week of July 28 - August 1, 2008. Those projects include a fence removal and wildlife habitat project near Goosewing Guard Station outside of the Gros Ventre Wilderness, and an extensive trail construction and reconstruction project on Teton Pass, Both located on the Jackson Ranger District. In total, 1100 Boy Scouts and Boy Scout Leaders will be volunteering on the Bridger-Teton National Forest that week.
Editor’s Note and Clarification: Approximately 1,000 Boy Scouts have been scheduled to come to the Bridger-Teton National Forest to do a service project. Of those 1,000, approximately 150 were to be placed in the Dutch Joe area of Big Sandy, and those are the ones that are being displaced. The other 850 Scouts will be working in other locations on the Forest and their project areas are not impacted by the presence of the Rainbow gathering. On June 12, 2008, the Forest Service had a teleconference briefing with the Rainbow family concerning conflicts with the Big Sandy location choice for the 2008 Wyoming gathering. This briefing was conducted by Bridger-Teton National Forest Supervisor Mike Balboni. Below are the notes detailing the Forest Service position arguing against Big Sandy/Dutch Joe as a location site.
Bridger-Teton National Forest
Briefing, June 12, 2008
Rainbow family Gathering Conflicts with Big Sandy Location
1) The Bridger-Teton National Forest forwarded four locations that the Forest thought would meet the needs of the Rainbow Family and would be acceptable locations for the week of the Gathering.
Poison Meadows is located on the Greys River Ranger District approximately 25 miles up the Smith’s Fork Road. It is the headwaters for the Greys River and is a large open area. There is some slope to the meadows, however it still provides for suitable camping. The area is particularly wet at present due to the persistent winter and recent storms. Consequently, the area that would have been adequate for parking is striated with springs that render a good portion of the flat unusable. Currently, parking would be extremely tight in this location. There will be cattle on this allotment from June 15-September. The location is roughly 72 miles form the Big Sandy/Dutch Joe area as the crow flies. Located at T30N, R117W, Sec 30.
Forest Park is located on the Greys River Ranger District approximately 37 miles from the town of Alpine, just off of the Greys River Road. Cattle will be on this allotment June 15-September. There is a wide open elk feedground at this location and it is immediately adjacent to one of the Forest’s campgrounds, making it rather accessible by visiting public. The snow is already off of this sight and due to the gravely nature of the soils in this area, the sight has dried out much faster than other areas at similar elevations. Parking needs would be adequately met in this area. Forest Park is located about 100 miles from the Big Sandy/Dutch Joe area as the crow flies. Located at T33N, R116W, Sec. 21.
Snider Basin is located on the Big Piney Ranger District off of the Emigrant Trail or the Lander Cutoff Trail, also known as Forest Road 10128. The road is in good condition and the area is a flat open meadow with ample water supply. There is room for parking and camping. Cattle will come on the allotment July 3rd and stay through September (this potentially could be altered). This site is at a lower elevation than the Big Sandy area. The town of Big Piney is close by, providing access to services and provisions. You will have to cross a private road to access the site. The site is roughly 80 miles from the Big Sandy/Dutch Joe area, located at &29N, R116W, Sec 29.
Miner Creek is located on the Pinedale Ranger District, approximately 22 miles northwest of Daniel Junction, Wyoming. The area is open and drier than other sites due to the well-drained soils. There is room for parking and camping within Miner Creek running directly through the site providing water for the group. There are several other springs in the area and the access roads to the site are in good shape, although muddy at the moment due to the recent weather. The site is roughly 70 miles from the Big Sandy/Dutch Joe site and located at T31N, R111W, Sec 28.
2) Projected Weather for the Big Sandy/Dutch Joe location-
The Big Sandy/Dutch Joe site is located at an elevation of 9,020 feet. The roads to the site are slick and treacherous due to storms and severe weather that has been plaguing this country. The poor soils and wet conditions are expected to persist until this weekend, when the storm is supposed to break up for the time being. Spring has yet to come to the Bridger-Teton and much of the Forest roads and access points are different in with snow or impassable due to mud and sloppy conditions. The weather is unpredictable as it is for most of Wyoming. It is very wet right now; however, the forecast for the next 10 days is for clear skies.
3) Conflicts that could be alleviated if alternate site (Not Big Sandy) was selected:
1. The other suggested sites have better access roads that are less treacherous.
2. Big Sandy is classified as having sensitive sandy soils that will be easily disturbed by crowds of people over a short duration.
3. Approximately six to seven thousand sheep will be accessing their high elevation sheep allotments via Big Sandy somewhere between 1-7 July.
4. Parking is quite limited in Big Sandy – the other sites provide for more parking opportunities.
5. -150 Order of the Arrow Boy Scouts are coming to the Big Sandy area from 24 July to 2 August and will be working in the very same area (This National Service project is the largest of its kind the Boy Scouts have ever undertaken.) Chief Gail Kimbell will visit the Bridger-Teton and tour the Scout project. Relocating the permitted Scout project from the Big Sandy area to another location could create a strain in the excellent working relationship that the Forest Service enjoys with the Boy Scouts of America.
6. The Irish Canyon is a tributary of the Green River drainage and is being managed under a Conservation Agreement and Strategy signed by three states (WY, CO, & UT), four different federal agencies (Forest Service R2-Rocky Mountain & R4-Intermountain; Region 6 of the USFWS: three state offices of the BLM, & the National Park Service) and the Ute Indian Tribe. A different camp would alleviate water quality concerns for this sensitive area.
7. As Colorado River cutthroat trout have been repeatedly petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act (most recent finding of “not warranted” found in June 2007), isolated self-sustaining populations should be protected from all possible disturbances. Degradation of Colorado River Cutthroat Trout habitat in the Wind River Range would provide proponents of listing compelling background information to petition for listing once again.
8. The Big Sandy area contains a resort, trailhead, campground, 18-unit summer-home tract, and is popular for dispersed camping. Conflicts with visitors in the following settings at Big Sandy is highly likely.
9. The Big Sandy Trailhead is the second busiest access point in the Bridger Wilderness, often containing a minimum of 100 vehicles at the parking area form July 1 through Labor Day; the Big Sandy Campground is also busy during this timeframe.
10. The Big Sandy Lodge operates from June through October, with peak use July 1 through Labor Day.
11. Use of the 18-unit Temple Creek Summer Home Tract peaks from July 1 through Labor Day.
12. The Big Sandy Opening is a popular sit for dispersed camping from July 1 through Labor Day, particularly serving Rock Springs residents.
13. The Big Sandy area has a history of black bear problems due to a high volume of visitors not properly storing food and attractants. A large group of this size is likely to lead to human bear conflicts in this problematic area.
4) Opportunities the Forest has to mitigate the conflict with the Scouts if the Rainbow Family doesn’t relocate:
5) If the Rainbow Family remains in the Big Sandy/Dutch Joe site, the Bridger-Teton is looking at the following options:
1. Asking the Rainbow Family to have the site cleaned up, restored and vacated by July 22.
2. Detailing additional Law Enforcement Officers to be stationed at the Dutch Joe guard station from July 22 – August 1 to provide added security as the scouts conduct their project.
3. Relocating the scout project to the Goosewing Guard station and having the work completed in an alternate location.
4. Work with the Incident Management Team on a turn-over plan identifying needs and resources required to insure minimum conflict with the scouts.
6) Problem with Scouts having to relocate their project:
1. Many of the Scout participants for this Dutch Joe project signed up for this very site and type of work and this is where all of the parents believe they will be.
2. This project has been in the planning stages for 3 years and has endless hours of time and energy without monetary compensation.
3. Logistically it may be almost impossible to get an ICP and project together in the 43 days remaining prior to implementation on July 27.
4. The debris barrier that is scheduled to be installed as part of this project for the native Colorado cutthroat trout population will enhance the habitat for this potentially endangered species.
5. Scouts and the Forest Service have already invested over $20,000 in supplies for this site.
6. The sight was selected for the Boy Scout project because it is safe, operational and logistically sound. Locating an alternate site on short notice would jeopardize the safety that we would be able to afford the Scouts at the present location.
7. It took three site visits of 4 days each, working with the scouts and FS personnel to get to where we are today in the planning stages. Relocating would obliterate the personal time, effort and dedication expended by the scouts and their leadership.
8. Some of the supplies arriving for logistical support are contracted for that site and would be costly if not impossible to relocate.
9. Without the help from the scouts, the fence removal and improvements to the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail may not happen. Realistically, the habitat improvement projects and trail improvements would not be funded nor incorporated into the Forest program of work, thus hindering the overall efforts towards wildlife and connections with nature.
10. The primitive skills involved with this project are priceless to the educational experience for these Scouts (such as crosscut saw and the use of livestock for packing). Relocation would rob the youth of this special opportunity to connect with the land and practice these techniques.
Rainbows displace Boy Scouts - (By Chris Merrill, Jackson Hole Star-Tribune, June 24, 2008)
Rainbow Family should show respect for others - (Casper Star-Tribune Editorial, June 24, 2008)
A bad apple - (By Chris Merrill, Casper Star-Tribune, June 22, 2008)
Sublette official blasts feds - (By Chris Merrill, Casper Star-Tribune, June 22, 2008)
Managing Rainbows - (By Chris Merrill, Casper Star-Tribune, June 22, 2008)
Feds to Rainbows: Move gathering - (By Chris Merrill, Casper Star-Tribune, June 20, 2008)
Rainbows may have conflict with scouts - (By Jennie Oemig, Pinedale Roundup, June 19, 2008)
Rainbows to return to Sublette County - (By Janet Montgomery, Sublette Examiner, June 12, 2008)