By on April 14, 2015

Wildlife woes 

DISSTongueJackson, Wyoming – Spring is the roughest time for wildlife. Ungulates are weak, but still calving and fawning. Carnivores are hungry after a long winter of slim pickings. Omnivores, those that hibernate, are grouchy and hungry, too. Migrating birds and most every creature battles Wyoming’s unpredictable spring – warm and sunny one day, cold and snowy the next.

It’s a good time to remind ourselves of the challenges we face as a community. With a collective voice we declare habitat preservation and wildlife to be our top priority. It’s time to start doing the heavy lifting required and put our money where are mouths are.

This community’s appetite for the real sacrifices it will take to preserve open space and protect our wildlife needs to be put to the test. And now. It will take money. It will take saying “no” to development and developers in many places. Preserving wild Wyoming often runs in direct opposition to news items that normally give us glee. “Deplanements up at the airport,” “Sales tax revenue on the rise,” and “Building permits rebounding” are headlines that give us comfort but to everything with hair, hide, feathers and scales, they are of little solace.

We say we are for them but we make pitifully small gestures to ensure we don’t run them over on our roads. We say we are for them because they are the soul of our economic driver (tourism) while we artificially feed them, shoot them when they overpopulate, and collect their body parts for auction. We say we are for them because they represent the last and best of the Old West, yet we gouge out chunks of their habitat and bottle up their migration routes with the first and best of the shiny New West.

Saying that we care doesn’t make it so. It takes action. Choosing to support wildlife might mean hard realities we are not prepared to face. Certainly no politician is. Affordable housing, economic growth, and attracting a more diverse social base are just some of the valley’s pursuits that don’t often run in harmony with wildlife and its habitat. Every decision made in Teton County has to come from a place of protecting what we cherish. The first question we should ask ourselves is: Does this help or harm our wildlife?

Claiming wildlife is priority one means we need to start there in every dialogue. Too often it’s a bullet-point far down the list. It’s time to fish or cut bait, put up or shut up, shit or get off the pot — pick your colloquialism. All around the world we’ve buried wild creatures beneath our egos, money and cement. Soon, very soon, we will experience nature and its animals in zoos only, or maybe on the Animal Planet reruns. While we are so busy being “green” in Jackson Hole, let’s remember to be “brown” as well.

Artistic license to spend 

DISSTongueI may be alone on this one, but I have public art fatigue.

After 45 minutes of internet research, I am unclear on exactly what Jackson Hole Public Art is. It doesn’t seem to be a nonprofit and it doesn’t appear to be a government entity, yet the town solicits board vacancies and appoints members. Jackson Hole Public Art certainly turns to the town when it needs money. Its latest request is for matching funds for a $400,000 dress up of North Cache.

It’s not all JH Public Art either. It’s the idea that some forces are at work in Jackson to make this the new Taos, New Mexico.

JHPA’s mission statement reads: Jackson Hole Public Art forges partnerships for the integration of art into any environment, to inspire lasting cultural, educational and economic benefits.

But our environment IS art. A classic example of the silliness of some public art displays is the redundancy of a painting of the Tetons obscuring a view of the Tetons, or a moose bronze spooking an actual moose.

Now the Town of Jackson is considering whether to give a California firm $60,000 to install art exhibits at the Home Ranch Welcome Center bathroom. (Doesn’t bathroom art kind of take care of itself?) Actually, Gizmo Art Productions of San Francisco wouldn’t so much install the art for that amount, they would simply “produce” it. The real work would be done by anyone caring to respond to a bid request put out by the town two months ago. To date, no one has.

We are still trying to balance a budget. How about more banking and less Banksy? More public works less public art. Most people don’t give a rat’s ass if there is a painting of a rat’s ass that’s getting wet from a sewer line break when they can’t flush their toilet or brush their teeth.

Maybe I just don’t “get” art. Maybe I’m a grouch. But should taxpayers really have to fork over money to see someone’s interpretation of a Dali-esque grizzly bear on acid? It’s a distraction from all the natural beauty that surrounds us.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Loving wildlife by the ton. (Photo credit:

About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.


  1. anonyholic II

    April 15, 2015 at 2:30 am

    RE: “getting” art in Jackson Hole. You are not alone, Jake. Plenty of money goes into ‘public art’ in JH. More of it should go to the food cupboard or the mission.

  2. Sakie

    April 15, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Nailed it on Public Art.

    Mostly tacky & ugly. Should never be subsidized by the govt or forced upon others by government.

    Art has its place but let’s not fake it and pretend we need it more than a beautiful evergreen tree. I’ll take a well landscaped Broadway with evergreens over another steel deer outside Walgreens any day.

  3. Sonja Sharkey

    April 16, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Jake, every word you wrote where my thoughts
    on those two topics. You are not alone and we
    need to get everyone who understands the reasoning
    for this , to come together.
    We have a responsibility to be good stewards of the
    Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, where Jackson is a part of .

  4. paul

    April 19, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    PlanetJH is all abut servicing the Arts Community. I’m surprised you still have a job, Jake.

    The PJH could probably apply for a grant and have the city pay Jake’s set rate.

    Actually, I enjoy the adult day care at the CFTA, but I can do with out the handouts and the city telling new businesses to set asicde money for art. That’s just silly. We could have gotten graffiti artists to paint up the utility pedestals for free and do just as nice a job. Actually, if this town had any brains, it would require pedestals and all those orange fiber / yellow gas line posts be painted dark green or mostly removed like they did in GTNP.

    We have one big ugly Broadway that would look so much nicer if trees lined the avenue every 50 feet.

  5. jake

    April 21, 2015 at 9:33 am

    @paul. I am always grateful for PJH commitment to free speech and freedom of the press. It trumps all. While my views may not always reflect those of the PJH management, leadership or ownership, I am given the freedom to express them on a weekly basis. I hope that serves as a constant reminder and display of PJH’s dedication to being a true voice in the community. A voice that sometimes expresses concerns that not everyone wants to hear. Surprised I still have a job? No, but always thankful my bosses understand whats truly important when you set out to define yourself as an alternative press newspaper.

  6. planetjh

    April 21, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    Well said, Jake Nichols.

  7. anonyholic II

    April 21, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    Jake, I’m not sure you understood Paul’s comment. Or maybe I didn’t, but here goes: Under the Grossmans, PJH would have had almost immediate online coverage of Saturday night’s Grand Teton Plaza fire. There was nothing. Are you now ceding all news coverage, even political, to the NaG? I trust there will be some sort of feature Wednesday, interviewing Salamon and Molly Lee or Brendan Schulte on their losses. But will it only be to lament the elimination of future town art venues? The Planet has added some new fine writing talent, but they ain’t Jake. And the stories are becoming less Jake-ish. P&D and TOU notwithstanding.

  8. anonyholic II

    April 21, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    Just sayin’.

  9. anonyholic II

    April 22, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Here’s a diss — Where is the April 22nd online edition of the Planet? Very un-Grossman, un-Jake-ish.

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