I’m back in Jackson en route to Tucson (where I’ll make a presentation to the Historical Society and elsewhere) but my first stop is Jackson Hole where I’ve visited now for 52 years. I am driving but many people fly in and out.  The Jackson Hole Airport is unique–it is the only airport within a National Park; a huge intrusion to this sensitive valley. 

One night back in the 1930s a couple cowboys cleared some brush on what then was the center of the valley; not in the current park but on Rockefeller land, and flew a few planes in.  They never left and Rockefeller looked the other way.  Today, the airport complex has grown, sitting on 533 acres and has expanded in every capacity except the runway length which Grand Teton National Park refuses to allow (the park expanded around this land when Rockefeller donated it).  Also increasing is the lease terms–the last signed lease in 1983 was for 50 years (30 + 10 +10) and signed off by none other than James Watt.

Albeit, this is holiday season but this parking lot was absolutely full with likely 500 cars.  Last year (2017), there were nearly 29,000 aircraft operations according to Wikipedia.  It’s Wyoming’s busiest airport with about 1/3 of a million people passing through.  It’s also built on sensitive sage grouse habitat which our current SOI has nixed protections for.

Yesterday’s flight statistics for the later half of the day.  The approach route us usually directly over the Moose Visitors Center.  During my drive up to Moose and back, I tracked about 10 flights booming overhead.  Very intrusive and getting worse.  If you read the lease (https://www.nps.gov/grte/learn/management/upload/JH-Airport-ROD-SIGNED-FINAL-2.pdf) much of it relates to mitigating intrusive noise.  Now, how do you do that with jets?  My solution is to remove the airport.

In the 1970s many of us tried to do just that, moving the whole thing over to Idaho (Idaho wanted it then, but not now) and punching an all season tunnel under the steepest part of Teton Pass.  It never happened and Wyoming #22 forged over the summit instead placing a bridge spanning Glory Bowl–a textbook avalanche chute.  The bridge lasted one year.  Opportunity lost.

Four jets exchange passengers.

This is a pet friendly airport……

And a smelly one.  Why do people have to bring their dogs everywhere?  I sat next to a dog on my last first class flight back from Hawaii.  I quit flying that day–Alaska Airline  gave me 400 ff miles–oh gee whiz!  They also lost a long time customer.  Alaska Airlines also allows  miniature horses!

Service animal?  Horsefeathers!  It’s selfishness.  I sneezed the whole way…OK, I’m on a rant again…..  Time to go back home, light a fire, pour a stiff drink, and take in the sunset on the Grand Teton.  Happy Holidays!

 

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