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Refuge announces changes to May 1 access and travel

03_16_16_RefugeAccess_Article.jpgRefuge Manager Steve Kallin has announced this year's wintering wildlife closure on the National Elk Refuge will be lifted at midnight on Sunday, May 1, 2016 to coincide with the Bridger-Teton National Forest's scheduled annual opening.

March 16, 2016 (NER 16-07)

Refuge Manager Steve Kallin has announced this year’s wintering wildlife closure on the National Elk Refuge will be lifted at midnight on Sunday, May 1, 2016 to coincide with the Bridger-Teton National Forest’s scheduled annual opening. This change will give Refuge Road users immediate access to the adjoining National Forest when the wintering wildlife closure is lifted.

From December 1 through April 30 each year, a seasonal closure limits public travel on the Refuge Road. The closure provides animals protection at a time when their energy reserves are low and abundant new vegetation growth, or green–up, is not yet widely available for foraging. During the winter closure, traffic and pedestrian use is only allowed on the first 3½ miles of the Refuge Road, from the Refuge entrance on Broadway Avenue to the Twin Creek subdivision.

For many years, Refuge staff allowed people interested in accessing the National Forest through the Refuge on  May 1 to begin lining up on the Refuge Road on April 30. The interest stems from the public’s legal ability to remove shed antlers from the National Forest. Previously, the Refuge Road opened at 8:00 am on May 1, or eight hours later than the Forest Service’s 12:00 am opening. The early line-up on the Refuge Road resulted in a violation of the Refuge’s own regulation of no overnight camping as well as a significant annual expense and workload for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Now, the Refuge’s lifting of the wintering wildlife closure will coincide with the Forest’s opening at 12:00 am and offer consistent access to both Refuge Road and Forest users.

A growing concern over safety, including multiple search and rescue incidents last year, has also led to the interagency decision to prohibit one-day access on or through the Refuge across the Gros Ventre River on May 1. Removing May 1 travel across the Gros Ventre River will also provide year-round consistency for public access from the north end of the Refuge as well as deter possible trespass on private property.

Current National Elk Refuge access regulations, including regulations related to overnight parking and use of non–authorized access routes, are posted on the Refuge's web site. Printed copies are available at the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, located at 532 N. Cache Street in Jackson.

Parking within the Town of Jackson near the entrance of the National Elk Refuge is extremely limited. On April 30, the Jackson Police Department will have additional staff on hand to educate people lining up on streets near the Refuge entrance and relocate them to public parking areas such as the Fairgrounds, Home Ranch, and Deloney lots within the Town of Jackson.

More information on parking options, restrictions, and enforcement within the Town of Jackson is available via Internet or telephone:

Town of Jackson (web site):
Jackson Police Department (web site):
Jackson Police Department (telephone) :  (307) 733–1430.

Click here to view a Town of Jackson parking map (Adobe PDF) showing available parking areas on April 30.

The Bridger–Teton National Forest  will also post updates related to wintering wildlife closures and May 1 access to the National Forest at

Last Updated: Mar 23, 2016
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