“The expansion of Grand Targhee Resort could further impact diminishing habitat for the small, genetically isolated population of native bighorn sheep that have endured in the Teton Range since the last ice age. Development of the ski area infrastructure in the South Bowl would result in a direct loss of occupied bighorn sheep summer habitat and further fragment the available summer bighorn sheep habitat in Teton Canyon.” – National Park Service Officials
Some cool things are coming in Grand Targhee’s future, as a high-speed chairlift will service Peake Mountain for the first time in the 2022-23 season. Then a chondola will replace the Dreamcatcher chairlift. There were also future terrain expansions planned into Teton Canyon, but it looks like the U.S. Forest Service will cancel these proposals. WyoFile.com reports that the Teton Canyon plans could be canceled altogether due to the expansion invading the space of Bighorn Sheep. The legendary animal once had a population of 1.5 million across the West, but now only 85,000 remain. Caribou-Targhee National Forest and the Grand Teton National Park, who are considering the proposal, have seen concerning declines in herd numbers in Bighorn Sheep in Wyoming. Such factors into this decline include sheep grazing, “lost habitat and severed migration routes from roadbuilding, fences and other human development.” With a rise of human development in the Tetons, bighorn sheep hang out in wind-swept, high elevation areas in the winter, just like Teton Canyon. Bighorn Sheep are generally not fond of people in their space, which further risks their lifestyle if the expansion were to go through. The original plans called for one hundred and eighty acres of new ski runs, three new chairlifts, and snowcat skiing. According to Save Teton Canyon, the following animals live in the area: “bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mule deer, moose, elk, mountain lion, black bear, coyote, fox, pine martin, and other small mammals and birds.” Negative effects on the habitat, along with the severe avalanche risk that comes with this terrain, have caused Grand Targhee to downsize their plans, as their latest proposal would only have one lift in this area. Cat skiing has also been dropped from the proposal. The other planned expansion is into the Mono Trees area, which would add five trails and a new lift. Save Teton Canyon says this individual expansion would negatively affect wildlife(deer, moose, and bears) and the trees(Aspen and Evergreen). The advocacy group also points out that the Millcreek Trail, which is located in that area, is closed during the winter due to protect wildlife. With these expansion plans, Grand Targhee Resort is aiming to become a four-season destination resort. Despite the quality terrain that is a part of these plans, it sounds like the locals and government officials aren’t so keen on these ideas though. Photos of the proposed expansions are below.