United States Department of the Interior



National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park

Elk and Bison Planning Office

P.O. Box 510

Jackson, Wyoming 83001


December 7, 2000

Dear Interested Party,

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Park Service (NPS) will soon begin preparing a management plan/environmental impact statement for elk and bison that inhabit the National Elk Refuge (NER) and Grand Teton National Park (GTNP). These animals are part of the "Jackson Hole elk and bison herds," which comprise one of the largest concentrations of free-ranging elk and bison in North America, approximately 14,000 elk and 600 bison. The Jackson elk and bison herds migrate across several jurisdictional boundaries including the NER, GTNP, Yellowstone National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Bureau of Land Management resource areas, and state and private lands. Because of the wide range of authorities and interests, the USFWS and NPS are seeking to implement a cooperative approach to management planning involving all of the associated federal and state agencies and a broad range of organized and private interests. In the planning process, we will evaluate a range of alternatives involving several major issues including (but not limited to) habitat management, winter feeding, disease management, hunting programs, visitor use impacts, and elk and bison population size targets relevant to NER and GTNP.

In the fall of 1999, the USFWS and the NPS enlisted the services of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (IECR) based in Tucson, AZ. The IECR was asked to develop a set of recommendations related to the public involvement process for the upcoming elk and bison management planning process. To efficiently develop those recommendations, the IECR used the services of several cooperators, including the University of Wyoming Institute for Environmental and Natural Resources. The final report, or "Situation Assessment," contains recommendations as well as an overview of specific viewpoints and concerns expressed by a wide range of government and private stakeholders in the Jackson elk and bison herds. Copies of the report are available online at www.ecr.gov/new.htm, www.merid.org, and at www.uwyo.edu/enr/ienr.htm. Additional copies can be viewed at the Teton County Library or obtained from the NER headquarters in Jackson, WY.

In response to recommendations in the Situation Assessment, the agencies will initiate a pre-scoping phase to begin in January 2001 and last until a Notice-of-Intent to prepare an EIS is published in the federal register this coming spring. Objectives of the pre-scoping phase will be to share information, build a working relationship among stakeholders, discuss desired future conditions for elk and bison conservation, discuss opportunities and obstacles to achieving these conditions, define the project area, and design a public involvement program for the formal planning process.

The USFWS and NPS welcome all interested individuals and organizations to become involved in the planning process for the Jackson elk and bison management plan/environmental impact statement. A mailing list is currently being compiled for that process. If you would like to be included, please return the enclosed postcard with your name and address to:

NER & GTNP Elk and Bison Management Plan/EIS

P.O. Box 510, Jackson, WY 83001


Don DeLong

Assistant Planning Team Leader