Skip Navigation

Refuge Road work proposed

01_16_14_RefugeRoadProject_ArticleRefuge Manager Steve Kallin announced today the Central Federal Lands Highway Division (CFLHD) of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Teton County, is proposing a road project on the National Elk Refuge.

January 16, 2014 (NER 14-02)

Refuge Manager Steve Kallin announced today the Central Federal Lands Highway Division (CFLHD) of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Teton County, is proposing a road project on the National Elk Refuge (Refuge) in Teton County, Wyoming. This project is being funded to address the degradation of the transportation facilities that take place naturally over time. The work will largely encompass adding aggregate surface course material to the majority of the public routes within the Refuge as well as establishing several pullouts to facilitate wildlife viewing and other recreational activities.

The National Elk Refuge is located adjacent to the town of Jackson, Wyoming with access located at the east terminus of Broadway Avenue. The Refuge, approximately 24,777 acres in size, is an integral component of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The Refuge is bounded by Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Visitation reaches a minimum of 300,000 people annually, with peak visitation occurring from June through August. Many Refuge visitors arrive in cars and access the Refuge via the Elk Refuge Road. A substantial number of local residents also access the Refuge on foot and bicycle for routine recreation and exercise. Additionally, the Refuge Road leads to popular recreational areas of the Bridger–Teton National Forest. The proposed pullouts will provide safe wildlife viewing access for all Refuge visitors. 

As a part of the environmental review process, the FHWA has responsibilities to comply with Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 (which has been later revised and recodified but still referred to as Section 4(f)). The intent of the Section 4(f) Statute, 49 U.S.C. Section 303, and the policy of the FHWA is to avoid transportation use of historic sites and publicly owned recreational areas, parks, and wildlife and waterfowl refuges.  If the FHWA determines that a transportation use of these types of properties, also known as Section 4(f) properties, results in a de minimis impact on that property, an analysis of avoidance alternatives is not required, and the Section 4(f) evaluation process is complete.  De minimis impacts on publicly owned parks, recreation areas, and wildlife and waterfowl refuges are defined as those that do not “adversely affect the activities, features and attributes” of the Section 4(f) resource.  

The finding of a de minimis impact on recreational and wildlife resources can be made when:

1) The transportation use of the Section 4(f) resource, together with any impact avoidance, minimization, and mitigation or enhancement measures incorporated into the project, does not adversely affect the activities, features, and attributes that qualify the resource for protection under Section 4(f);

2) The public has been afforded an opportunity to review and comment on the effects of the project on the protected activities, features, and attributes of the Section 4(f) resource; and

3)  The official(s) with jurisdiction over the property are informed of FHWA’s intent to make the de minimis impact finding based on their written concurrence that the project will not adversely affect the activities, features, and attributes that qualify the property for protection under Section 4(f).

During the design phase, every effort was made to minimize the footprint of the project. The work will consist of some minor widening in certain areas and will only involve 0.17 acres of the Refuge. This project will impact a relatively small portion, or 0.0007 percent, of the total Refuge acreage. The land to be impacted was selected in coordination with Refuge staff. Visitors and employees of the Refuge will benefit from the improved access and safety associated with the proposed improvements. The improvements will provide access to wildlife viewing locations and would not adversely affect the activities, features, or attributes that make the property eligible for Section 4(f) protection. 

The work for this project will occur during the late spring and summer of 2015. During the actual road construction, pedestrian and bicycle travel will be significantly impacted. Vehicles should expect traffic control delays for up to 30 minutes, with possible pilot car escorts required. As the construction moves north along the road, traffic delays and congestion will decrease. 

Comments and questions regarding the Refuge Road project should be submitted by January 31. Please address all correspondence to Deputy Refuge Manager Cris Dippel at cris_dippel@fws.gov, or call 307.733.9212 x3. Comments mailed to the National Elk Refuge at PO Box 510, Jackson, WY should be postmarked no later than January 31.

Last Updated: Jan 29, 2014
Return to main navigation