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The Future of Munger Mountain

Over the past year, the Jackson Hole Land Trust (JHLT) has led an effort to conserve the state trust land parcel on Munger Mountain in collaboration with Teton County, Friends of Pathways, Friends of Munger Mountain, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Snake River Ranch, and Bridger-Teton National Forest. This coalition has developed a proposal for a 35-year recreational lease on the 640-acre state trust land parcel on Munger Mountain. The goal is to conserve the property while enhancing its recreational trail network.

The Munger Mountain parcel is rich in conservation and community values. It supports active grazing leases and provides critical wildlife habitats, including elk migration and calving areas. The trails on the parcel, which connect to the Munger North Trailhead and Wally’s World trail system, are well-used but under-maintained. The area is also popular for fall hunting. Significant local investments in conservation have already been made, with multiple conservation easements held by JHLT and partnerships with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD).

In April 2024, Teton County submitted this proposal to the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments (OSLI), the agency tasked with managing the property. Before the proposal goes to the Wyoming State Lands and Investment Board (SLIB) for formal consideration, OSLI staff will hold a community listening session on Thursday, June 13, to gather feedback from residents. This session is a key opportunity for the community to express support for the conservation-focused vision of the proposal.

The proposed lease represents a major conservation win in Teton County. The JHLT has been working to protect this part of the valley for over 30 years, and together with partners, has conserved nearly 1,900 acres in the area. The lease aims to balance conservation and recreation, enhancing local recreation experiences, improving wildlife habitats, and increasing funding for public education in Wyoming.

The proposed 35-year recreation lease at $75,000 per year will generate $2.625 million for Wyoming’s K-12 public schools. The lease terms, still subject to final negotiation, are compatible with existing grazing leases. The JHLT led the development of the proposal, coordinating with all partners, and will provide stewardship throughout the duration of the lease. While Teton County is the official proponent, JHLT’s experience and leadership have been crucial to shaping the proposal.

Trail enhancements will be a collaborative effort involving Friends of Pathways, Teton County Parks & Recreation, and Bridger-Teton National Forest. Plans include ten miles of trail, five trail bridges, and improved parking, along with intensive weed control to prevent the spread of invasive species. The proposal includes habitat improvements and efforts to minimize wildlife impact, guided by input from the WGFD.

The proposal focuses on formalizing and maintaining existing trails, rather than creating new ones on the state parcel. New trail construction on U.S. Forest Service lands will undergo environmental processes to minimize wildlife impacts and locate formal trails in areas with the least impact.

The community meeting on June 13 is a crucial step forward. Community members are encouraged to attend and express why this proposal is a positive step for the property. It significantly increases lease revenue for Wyoming public schools, provides enhanced recreational opportunities for residents, builds on existing conservation investments in the valley, and offers a model for other Wyoming counties to protect important lands.

Together, we can ensure that Munger Mountain remains a treasured part of our community, balancing recreation with the essential conservation of our natural heritage.

Photo: Drew Rush