Free Mike Harris



One of the most important elements of a Healthy Lifestyle Based Economy is a low angle, multi-use trail network close to the downtown core of a community. In Victor, there is an incredible opportunity to develop a trail network like this in the Mike Harris area just to the East of downtown. Imagine a year round, recreational parking area that supports non-motorized and motorized trail access for residents and visitors alike. Combine this with a campground, close proximity to Jackson Hole, and a connection to Victor along the Old Jackson Highway and you have the makings of a true economic driver for the entire Teton Valley.

Currently, the City of Victor is putting the finishing touches on a request to the Teton Basin Ranger District of the USFS for the development of up to 15 miles of non-motorized trails, a year round parking facility, winter grooming for skiing, fat biking, and snowmobiling, and the completion of a multi-use connection from Mike Harris to the Big Hole mountains. This is an ambitious and incredibly forward thinking project that supports the goals of the City of Victor Comp Plan, the Teton County Comp Plan, the Southern Valley Trails Project, and Envision Victor. As a resident and business owner in Teton Valley I think it will have long lasting, positive economic impacts for everyone who has invested in Teton Valley.

This project will not happen over night and it’s important for us to all be aware of the process. First, the City of Victor submitted a project proposal to the Forest Service this past Winter. The Teton Basin Ranger District responded to the request with a letter asking for additional information to be provided before they can accept the request as a formal “Proposed Action” (PA). The Forest Service has learned, through litigation unfortunately, the more comprehensive the PA the better. Taking the time to address potential concerns that may arise in the next phase, “Public Scoping”, will significantly increase the quality of the effort which ultimately should be focused on protection of our natural resources as well as support for the local economy.

If the USFS accepts the PA, the project will be put out for Public Scoping. The Scoping process allows anyone, or any organization, to voice concerns with the project Again, the more work done to address potential concerns about the project, from the start, will reduce the chance of unforeseen efforts to derail the project.

If the project is moved forward after Scoping, the Teton Basin ranger District will need to analyze the project before the Forest Service begins their decision making under the guidance of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the Forest Management Act (FMA). With any luck, the project could move through Scoping in a few months and then through the NEPA process to approval in 7-8 months. Not over night, but pretty quick all things considered.

Of course the USFS is extremely under funded and the amount of study and subsequent paper work needed is significant. Therefore, a third party consultant needs to be hired to provide the USFS with assistance. The City of Victor is currently speaking with consultants who specialize in this work to find the right fit. Likely, the project will be broken into 2 phases. The first phase will bring the project through Scoping and the second phase will include the NEPA work. The City is exploring options to help cost share the consultant and hopefully Teton County, supporting non-profits, and the community in general will help with the rest.

In the near future, look for ways to engage and make your voice heard about this project. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly and I’ll do my best to shed any light I can. Here’s to the development of a Healthy Lifestyle based Economy!



One Response to “Free Mike Harris”

  1. Wendell says:

    Trails?
    In the Mike Harris area?
    Great idea!
    Keep up the good work, people.
    You all know I will be ready with freshly sharpened Pulaskis for whenever we are a ‘Pulaski-Ready’ project!

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