How should the National Park Service go about revitalizing the Jenny Lake area of Grand Teton National Park? That question is now the subject of a public comment period that runs into mid-March.
Under the Park Service's preferred plan, upwards of $16 million will be spent rehabilitating hiking trails on the western side of Jenny Lake, improving the visitor drop-off and interpretation areas on the eastern side of the lake, improving the dock area, adding restrooms, improving the campground, and the public boat launch area.
When all is said and done -- if the project is launched -- a net 1.5 acres of additional land will be permanently disturbed by the project, according to the park's Jenny Lake Renewal Plan.
According to those planning documents, "(M)ost of the construction would occur in areas that have been previously disturbed. In the frontcountry, most of the disturbance would occur in the sagebrush vegetation type; however, some tree removal would also occur."
"Trail realignment would remove approximately 80 trees, as well as mature sagebrush plants," the narrative continues. "In addition, approximately 50 trees may be removed to enlarge the viewing areas at the Lake, Inlet, and Aspen Overlooks. Tree removal would be a localized, direct, long-term, minor, adverse impact."
In the backcountry on the western side of the lake, the "proposed trail rehabilitation would allow visitors better access to viewing areas while staying on designated paths. With better-defined trails, human use and trampling of off-trail areas would potentially be reduced, thereby potentially reducing disturbance and erosion of soils in off-trail areas."
Last summer Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Grand Teton National Park Foundation President Leslie Mattson jointly announced the Inspiring Journeys Campaign, which is intended to raise $13 million towards the project, while the Park Service will contribute $3 million from cyclic maintenance funding. At the time, $5 million in private funding had already been obtained.
One of the most popular destinations for visitors to Grand Teton National Park, the Jenny Lake area sits at the base of the Teton Range. Its trails offer visitors hikes to easily accessible, yet unforgettably beautiful backcountry destinations such as Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point and Cascade Canyon.
Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, many of the trails in the Jenny Lake area have been compromised by poor drainage, erosion, and heavy use. Inspiring Journeys will fund significant work on Jenny Lake’s network of backcountry trails to enhance hiking options and reverse years of accumulated trail damage, providing a safer and more inspiring experience for hikers of all abilities.
You can read the entire planning document, and leave your comments, at this site.