Grand Targhee Resort in Wyoming has wanted to add more on-site lodging for years. A hotel and cabins, among other units, are a part of their 2019 First Amended Master Plan. The ski resort has faced resistance from conservation groups, and the U.S. Forest Service and Teton County are reluctant to approve these plans without modifications.
Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that Grand Targhee aims to add 22 short-term rental units, which would be located in the abutment that stands above Spur Road and the overflow parking lot. Here’s a description of the cabins from Grand Targhee:
“In collaboration with Prospect JH, three concept cabins are being considered for short-term rental… These cabin-types vary in size and architecture to further create a woodland cabin-like experience and work with the existing grade and vegetation when possible to maintain and preserve the woodland setting and scenic vistas. These cabin-types range from 1,800 square feet (two-bedroom) to 3,000 square feet (five-bedroom). Two of the proposed lodging units will be ADA Compliant.”
In order for this project to happen though, they need to get approval from Teton County in Wyoming. The latest meeting, which occurred on April 18th, showed that these plans face resistance among various groups. The Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance opposes the plans, while others want to see modifications made.
Some of the changes that have been made over the past couple of months of negotiation between the two sides include the 28 cabins having been reduced to 22, moving the water tank to avoid being on a steep slope, and adding a shuttle stop that will go to the resort center. In spite of these changes, there are many that are still reluctant about the proposal.
The main issue appears to be the distance between the cabins and the forest boundary. It was debated at the meeting whether 50 or 300 feet of space was required between a building and the forest. As currently proposed, the cabins would be only within ten feet of the forest boundary.
This is an issue because of potential wildfire mitigation that could happen at the ski resort, the cabin needs to have fifty feet of defensible space. The road is currently a cul de sac, which means it’s a dead end and would make it difficult for firefighters. The other road concern is that there isn’t a second way to evacuate the road in case of an emergency. If the current entrance to Ski Hill Road is blocked off for whatever reason, there’s no other way out for potential guests.
Other concerns include that the building materials for the cabins by Grand Targhee have not been specified, making detractors fear that they would be easily flammable and make possible wildfire situations much worse, and the steep slopes around the cabins, as pictured above, are also a concern due to possible landslides.
If they make it a loop road rather than its current state of cul de sac, the building and space requirements could be removed. Grand Targhee has yet to commit to changing the proposal to a loop road.
Jay Pence, who is the Teton Basin District Ranger, raised the following concerns:
“The reason I am involved is that I am concerned about the vegetation removal and treatments that are going to have to occur on the national forest based on that poorly thought-out design. In a firefighting situation my resources will be involved, and I would like to have a design that doesn’t put a young man or woman at risk to suppress a fire due to poor planning.”
Mark Newcomb, who is a Teton County Commissioner, described his reluctance to approve it without further review during the meeting:
“I do look back and think that I could have done better to serve not only the residents of the resort communities and the visitors, but also for the community. I just don’t want to miss something here.”
The commissioners voted 4-1 to move the decision to May 16th. You can read about Grand Targhee’s cabin plans here.
Image Credits: Grand Targhee Resort