The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is truly special. It is perhaps the last intact mountain ecosystem left in the contiguous United States which has a full complement of wildlife ranging from apex predators to the smallest hummingbird in the country. The Upper Henrys Fork Watershed is a critical part of this system. The people who live and recreate here have a truly special opportunity for enjoyment of, and a concomitant stewardship obligation for, this national treasure.

The debate over the U.S. 20 reconstruction proposals on how to handle wildlife issues at Targhee Pass deeply divided the residents of Fremont County, and especially the community of Island Park. This was a challenging time. Citizens on both sides of the controversy were both energized and anxious. It disturbing to be on either side of the debate. We all saw how divisive those issues became.

But, there is a silver lining: It is obvious people on all sides of the issue have a deep connection to wildlife in Island Park and elsewhere. This is common ground and a solid starting point for open conversation on wildlife conservation. Societies progress when different views collide, common ground is found and open, healthy and respectful conversation flourishes. The result is a synergy of creativity and accomplishment. In Island Park, the time seems to be ripe to begin the wildlife conservation conversation. We have a stewardship obligation to do so for the wildlife and wildlife enthusiasts of today and tomorrow.

Tim Reynolds

Rigby and Island Park

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