This opinion piece was written and submitted by KM Ranch owner and Bondurant resident John Carter
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After decades of hiking, climbing, and fishing in the Wind Rivers, in 2020, we expanded our Wildlife Preserve from Idaho to include parcels in Hoback Ranches near Bondurant. We did this to protect habitat here by placing them in a conservation easement as we have done with the preserve in Idaho.
As we learned more about Sublette County and its emphasis on open space, wildlife corridors and preserving the historical character of the County, we felt better about our decision to invest here. Now, we realize that is an empty commitment by Sublette County and the intent of its Vision and Regulations are meaningless to some Commissioners.
The decision by three members of the County Commission Tuesday came as a shock as so many residents had commented at the Planning and Zoning meeting and submitted written comments opposing the rezone. Planning and Zoning had denied the application. This process was repeated for the County Commission meeting, again with residents commenting in large numbers in opposition. It didn’t matter.
As environmental scientists and wildlife advocates, we had presented detailed comments and analysis showing the confluence of wildlife migration corridors and crucial habitats for mule deer, elk, moose, and pronghorn that center on Bondurant and the Upper Hoback River. As a recent report by the PEW Charitable Trust showed, this area is unique in Sublette County for its importance to these animals. The Jackson Fork Resort is centered in this important location. If there is any place in Sublette County where open space and wildlife migration should be protected and development prevented, it is here.
The meeting did not allow the public adequate time to make their points, while Mr. Ricketts’ and his team of lawyer, consultants and manager were allowed unlimited time to ramble on about the project, how he needed the money to maintain his Ranch and all the good things they were going to do for the area. Money, you know.
The meeting room was filled with people, there were dozens on the internet in attendance as well. It was clear by the applause in the room when those opposing the project were allowed to make a point, the audience agreed. Don’t approve the Rezone! That was the message. It fell on deaf ears, the project was approved, and the County Commission lost a lot of support in doing so.