By on November 11, 2014

DISSTongueDouble whammy park pinch

Park officials are shopping the idea of hitting visitors twice on their way to see Yogi Bear. Gate fees would also increase. The price of a seven-day pass would double and the annual $50 pass would jump to $60. The kick in the teeth, however, is the plan to separate Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks into two individual attractions. This means visitors to Yellowstone would get hit up twice if they arrived through Teton park via the south entrance.

For starters, a greedy plan like this one stands to hurt Jackson Hole most of all. A Yellowstone arrival via Cody’s east entrance, the west entrance at West Yellowstone’s or northern entries at Gardiner and Cooke City might look more inviting to tourists in cost-saving mode. Jackson will already gouge them for room and board. Why pay more money on top of that just for the pleasure of passing beneath the shadow of the Tetons?

Secondly, Grand Teton and Yellowstone have a unique relationship. The adjacent national parks (let’s not pretend the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway is really anything but an extension of Grand Teton National Park) have a long-standing precedent of honoring each other’s entrance fees. Locals, and some tourists, utilize one independent of the other but the majority of the annual 3 million-plus visitors wouldn’t know whether they were in Teton, Yellowstone or the parkway at any given moment.

The fee hike is one thing, but tacking on the onerous burden of separate park fees is too much.

PROPSFistbumpUnbearable bruin ruin

Is it any wonder an offspring of the photogenic Grizzly 610 and descendent of the mother of all photo ops, 399, got himself into trouble? The first year of being booted from the clan is tough on subadults. They wander in search of their own territory and usually get chased off and knocked around by bigger, badder grizzlies.

Grizzly 760 found an area to his liking that reminded him of his Grand Teton upbringing. Plenty of automobile traffic and humans on Teton Village Road near the Aspens made him feel right at home. This columnist ran into 760 (nearly literally) while jogging on the dike one day. He wasn’t overtly fazed by my presence, as was his character all along, and he did not show aggression.

But 760 learned some bad habits from mom, as did she from the sow that begat her. Hanging out at roadsides in the 310,000-acre park seemed like a win-win for all. Aggressive male griz were avoided and lazy paparazzi were rewarded with an Ursus Arctos Horribilis family to Instagram from the comfort of their Jeep Grand Cherokees. It turned out to be a lose-lose.

The daily conditioning to human traffic spelled the bear’s demise. Being comfortable around people is the first step toward getting too comfortable with people, and when you’re talking about a quarter ton of grizzly, getting familiar can spell danger. Learning that humans posed no threat to him, Griz 760 chose to habitate in residential neighborhoods and help himself to human-related food rewards. It’s not surprising given his cubhood. Relocation didn’t work. Authorities regrettably did the right thing. Shameful shutterbugs share some of the blame.

PROPSFistbumpDisneyland needs Mickey Mice

For a few weeks now, we’ve been hearing and reading about how the county is overly dependent on low-paying touristy schlep jobs. The fear is we are becoming a place where only the rich can live and visit. The allegations made by many interested in reversing this supposed trend is that the people who attend to the needs of the aforementioned will have nowhere to live. But is the problem that bad?

A recent report by the state’s economics division indicated that a third of county employees work at jobs related to the tourism industry. Jobs like waiters and hotel maids. Given that the county’s number-one industry is admittedly tourism, is it a startling fact to learn that a third of the jobs here are within that industry.

Yes, the county has a big worry on its hands figuring out where all these employees will live. Yes, these employees are not paid terrifically and the trend is an overall wage reduction. These unavoidable facts are driven by the free market and corrected by the free market with minimal assistance from government.

The county can continue its attempts to diversify the economy and should. But we can’t keep proudly calling ourselves a tourist destination and then turn around and wonder why all these low-paying service industry jobs keep popping up. The problem may not be as dire as it’s painted to be. The solutions are there if we try hard enough to find them.

About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.


  1. Harry

    November 12, 2014 at 7:25 am

    There is no such thing as a free market in America. Never has been, never will be.

    But is the problem that bad?

    The future as envisioned by Jake is one of man camps and favelas. Bring in student visa workers to flood the market with cheap labor so that tourists don’t have to pay the true cost of goods and services.

    Subsidizing tourists is NOT a free market. It no different than subsidizing Microsoft to build their data center here. Wyoming doesn’t subsidize my business.

  2. Boobs

    November 12, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    i doubt you have a business.

  3. David

    November 14, 2014 at 6:47 am

    All Wyoming residents get a welfare check from the extractive industry.

    If you want an affordable or subsidized lifestyle, leave town for Texas or California. If you are here for other reasons and don’t much care for the handouts, then you belong in Wyoming.

    Jake gave the lodging tax a big ol’ fist pump. It’s OK to charge tourists an extra fee to visit Jackson but it’s NOT OK to charge Jake an extra fee to visit the National Park? Visitors to the parks have the greatest negative impact on the ecosystem and they should pay the greatest share of the cost to mitigate their impact. Jake can’t afford the 80 bucks for the national yearly pass?

    Granted, it is true that the NPS has gone fee-crazy recently ($35 per backcountry camping trip) and it doesn’t exactly match up with the idea of a national park system that’s accessible to all. Nonetheless, when you have a government that’s footing a 8 trillion dollar Iraq bill, and spent trillions to prop up the economy during the recession, then you’re not going to find a lot of money left over for the national parks. Someone has to pay for all those bike paths. The accessible idea has always been a fairytale anyway. When was the last time you met a South Central Los Angeles family visiting GTNP? It’s hard to find a black person within 100 miles of this state. I know more gay Wyomingites than black Wyomingites. Jackson gave the boot to Miss Hill and it’s mostly a white-boy’s party club with a few Hispanics catering the event.

    If you don’t like the new park fees, if it’s not worth the money, then don’t visit. If you don’t have the money, get another job. Fewer visitors will make the parks a better place.

  4. David

    November 14, 2014 at 6:48 am

    Bear 760 was relocated to the wrong location and then killed for being in the wrong location. Blame the government for the murder. Perhaps the real problem is that we have too many grizzly bears being protected under the endangered species act.

  5. BEARS

    November 14, 2014 at 7:13 am

    “We can’t keep proudly calling ourselves a tourist destination and then turn around and wonder why all these ‘shameful shutterbugs’ keep popping up. Yes, the county has a big worry on its hands figuring out where all these bears will live. These unavoidable situations are driven by the tourism industry and a government with its mouth on the tourist teat.”

    Paraphrasing Jake.

  6. BEARS

    November 14, 2014 at 7:15 am

    We already have the man camps up Curtis and people living in cars..

  7. Wanda

    November 15, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Keep the government out of my life as much as possible. Affordable housing for the working class should be left to the private sector. That doesn’t mean that the private sector will step up to the plate. Not enough housing? Good. That limits growth.

    Jake’s faith in the free market to make the world a better place for others in a self-correcting way is as misplaced as anyone’s faith in government’s ability to do the same. If you want a better life or a better world, make it happen on your own. With a few historical exceptions like beating Hitler & Internet porn, the foundation of happiness, success, and well being will be set by you.

    It’s also unlikely that the private sector would improve upon a marketplace distorted by the government. The free market is usually corrupt, unethical, and unworthy of trust when left to its own devices. It’s why we need and have market regulations. Governments aren’t that much different. It’s why the Founding Fathers wanted three branches of government and set forth with a guiding document called the Constitution. And lastly, people aren’t that much different. It’s why we have the Ten Commandments. Eve pretty well screwed things up for all of us.

  8. Betsy

    November 15, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Denmark has no minimum-wage law. But $20 an hour is the lowest the fast-food industry can pay under an agreement between Denmark’s 3F union, the nation’s largest, and the Danish employers group Horesta, which includes Burger King, McDonald’s, Starbucks and other restaurant and hotel companies.


  9. Betsy

    November 15, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    The free market could build a twenty story 2000-unit housing complex on some ranch if it wasn’t for land use policies. Maybe it should.

    Try to get rid of zoning in Teton County. It’s the largest driver of unaffordable housing. It can drive up property values more than land development. Improving property tax revenue is a high priority of government. Zoning protects profits for many businesses in Teton County. The complex interactions between a government and the private marketplace rarely favor the the people at the bottom of the economic ladder because governments are interested in revenue as much as businesses (see Jake’s rant about new fees for the parks).

  10. John

    November 15, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Betsy, I’m curious…how much does a quarter pounder with fries cost in Denmark?

  11. Too much govt

    November 17, 2014 at 7:22 am

    It’s still possible to get ahead in America but no one should think that the private sector is making it easier for anyone to do so without assistance.

    Jake lives in an imaginary land where a better hand will be dealt to the lower class if they only wait for the free market to do its magic “with minimal assistance from government.” Contrary to Jake’s ideal world, the American Dream hasn’t become a more accessible goal in the last 30 years.

    These days, both parents usually work. Retirement pensions are going the way of the dodo bird. Health care is unaffordable even with Obamacare. The wage gap between the classes is higher than ever. Child care costs exceed what many full-time workers can afford. Home prices exceed what average wage earners can pay. The cost of a post-secondary education exceeds inflation. New cars cost what old homes used to. Wages haven’t kept pace with inflation. And the government is constantly coming up with new ways to screw you.

    Good looks, youth, family connections, hard work, luck, a strong mind & body, a good education, and bankable natural talent will help many in Jackson because there’s plenty of work but it sure helps to have a trust fund. The odds are long for those stuck in some large inner-city neighborhood growing up in poverty with unexceptional parents and limited employment opportunities. One thing Jake gets right is that a free market overseen by the government is often a really [email protected] up affair.

  12. Not that much

    November 18, 2014 at 7:07 am

    Try Google. What’s your point?

    $4.80 (US- avg) vs $7.76 (Norway – most expensive in World).
    Denmark is $5.15.

    The American taxpayer contributes about $1.2 billion each year in public assistance to McDonald’s employees while McDonald’s generates billions more in profits for itself & shareholders. McDonald’s directly benefits from agricultural subsidies and underpaid immigrant farm workers while its food contributes to rising health care costs. That 1.2 billion in yearly public assistance for McDonald’s employees cost taxpayers another billion just to administer. McDonald’s pulls in about 6 billion a year.

  13. Not that much

    November 18, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Dump cheap Chinese tires onto American shores and the government will slap them with tariffs. Dump cheap immigrant labor onto American shores and the government welcomes them. The lower class will always be fighting harder to get ahead.

    It’s all too easy to point a finger at people and say they need to work harder or that they should get a better education. It’s like driving an axe into the back of man and complaining that he’s bleeding all over the place and moving too slowly.


    November 18, 2014 at 7:25 am

    The private sector LOVES government spending and depends on it. Just look around Jackson. National Parks, National Forests, Refuge, Town & County, JH Airport, all dump billions into the local economy with their spending contracts and direct aid to non-profits.

    NPR Story says this:

    “The top 200 corporations accounted for nearly $6 billion in lobbying and campaign contributions. Those same corporations benefited from more than $4 trillion in federal contracts and assistance.”

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply