To the Editor, The Jefferson Star:
If you’ve taken the time to read Idaho Transportation Deptartment's (ITD) Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Targhee Pass portion of the Hwy 20 project you will clearly see that ITD did not consider safety or the best science when they decided to go with Alternative 3. This plan, Alternative 3, selects animal detection systems (ADS) to protect us from wildlife crossing the road. ADS’s only have high ratings WHEN FENCING IS INCLUDED. ADS’s also rely on drivers changing their behavior, slowing down when they see the flashing lights, and paying attention. Studies all show that changing driver behavior is the least reliable method for preventing wildlife vehicular crashes.
ITD’s plan includes widening of the road and cutting down trees on either side for visibility. With traffic predicted to increase tremendously in the next ten years, this highway will be impenetrable to our wildlife. We will lose migration in and out of Yellowstone. Animals will be cut off from their winter/summer ranges. Who knows what this will do elk and deer herds, how will it affect hunting once we have isolated herds of these animals?
Don’t be fooled by this EA. ITD clearly did not consider our safety and the future of our animals when they picked Alternative 3. ADS’s will not protect us from wildlife crossing the highway, but I guess when the animals stop migrating, we won’t have to worry. When that happens, we will have lost a very special part of our heritage.