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October 16, 2021

Rebuttal to Island Park “Conservationalists

I just returned from a great vacation in Island Park, and really enjoyed the beauty of this area. I watched people with boats, fishing poles, and ATVs, anticipating recreation and even quiet time in the forest. I kept thinking, Island Park is pretty much the perfect place! Why would any sensible person want to change the balance we have with nature and recreation?

When I returned home I felt compelled to respond to recent op-eds in our local papers that continue to push for wildlife overpasses, fencing, and the restrictions that would follow a designation of “migratory corridor,” which would assuredly occur.

Mary Martin introduced us to the “new” Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance, which is basically a reshuffle of the same supporters “protecting” wildlife with overpasses, etc.

Martin claims: “Studies show that a large highway like Highway 20 can disrupt these ancient animal pathways and lead to a dip in elk’s reproduction rates…” Where are the studies that confirm any wildlife pathway, ancient or otherwise, has ever remained a static wildlife travel corridor?

If they are sincere about protecting deer, moose, elk and pronghorn, the first step is to start hunting wolves. The danger to wildlife caused by these predators (and let’s add grizzlies while we’re at it) is far and away greater than the handful that are hit by vehicles. In addition, 10+ foot high fences would immediately disrupt these “ancient” pathways.

In addition, how about focusing on the devastation to the wildlife and forests from fires, increasing in recent years because “environmentalists” file lawsuits to stop the responsible harvesting and other “common sense” management of forests. This practice has lead to the pollution of our air and water, affecting the watershed and other natural resources, plus the senseless deaths of all wildlife in the vicinity.

Tim Reynolds says “the time seems to be ripe to begin the wildlife conservation conversation.” Catchy, but in Fremont County and specifically Island Park, we have been doing a great job, with no contention among residents, until “conservation” groups with an agenda attempted to designate our area a national monument; and more recently, the wildlife overpasses through Idaho Transportation Department road improvement projects.

I witnessed firsthand some of the future plans for our area at a Sierra Club meeting in Boise. This included a speaker who told the audience the buffalo need more space to roam and the Island Park area is the obvious natural solution for the expansion of Yellowstone Park.

Lastly, in the Island Park News, John Poloski accused Ken Watts of frightening the locals with a “bogeyman” of conspiracies about funding organizations that do not have our area’s best interests in mind. We are not afraid–we are awake and will fight to protect Island

Park from further control. Poloski may think wildlife overpasses are a “common sense” solution, but he is in the tiny minority. “Backward thinking” is the attempt to lock up our area with fences and limited access. The IPPC members and the majority here believe the real common sense solution is in reducing speed limits, clearing trees, warning signs, and other less-intrusive measures to keep Island Park the perfect place it is.

Karey Hanks is the former State Representative 35B. She is a Graduate of Idaho Falls High School, Ricks College, and Brigham Young University – Idaho in psychology (2011). She can be contacted by email at [email protected]

This article was originally published on Rexburg Standart Journal.

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