Envision the Future!
The National Park Service (NPS) is planning for the future of the Moose-Wilson corridor in Grand Teton National Park. The purpose of the plan is to determine how best to provide appropriate opportunities for visitors to use, experience, and enjoy the area while protecting park resources.
On September 2, 2016 the National Park Service announced the release of the Moose-Wilson Corridor Final Comprehensive Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement (Final Plan/EIS). It is the result of considerable time, energy, and input from members of the public, other agencies, and the National Park Service. We received 34,370 correspondences during the Draft Plan/EIS public comment period from October 2015 through January 2016.
This Final Plan/EIS provides a range of alternatives, including the NPS preferred alternative, for protecting the significant natural and cultural resources of the Moose-Wilson corridor, while also providing appropriate opportunities for park visitors to use and enjoy this special area of Grand Teton National Park. The plan will ensure that the corridor continues to offer an enjoyable experience for visitors looking for exceptional scenery, rustic character, and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Visit parkplanning.nps.gov/moosewilson to view the Final Plan/EIS. Following a 30-day no-action period, a record of decision will be prepared for signature by the NPS Intermountain Regional Director.
What is the Moose-Wilson Corridor?
The Moose-Wilson corridor comprises about 10,300 acres in the southwest corner of the park. This exceptional area has a remarkable variety of natural communities, cultural and wilderness resources, and opportunities for visitor enjoyment. The Moose-Wilson Road extends 7.7 miles through the area and is the primary access to several park destinations, including Death Canyon and Granite Canyon trailheads, Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, White Grass Ranch and Murie Ranch historic districts, and Sawmill Ponds overlook. The corridor also provides unmatched wildlife viewing opportunities for a range of iconic large mammal species. Watch this Moose-Wilson Corridor Introduction to learn more.
Experience the Moose-Wilson Corridor
Experience the Moose-Wilson corridor any time or any where by visiting our electronic field trip through the corridor. You will learn about some of the highlights through the corridor, things to see and do along the corridor, and some of the issues facing this beautiful area in the park. You will need to have the Adobe Flash Player plug-in installed on your computer to experience the electronic field trip.
Moose-Wilson Corridor Resources and Values
Planning for the future of the Moose-Wilson corridor is a science-based decision-making process. Over the last couple of years, park staff and independent researchers have conducted scientific studies and surveys on the corridor and are evaluating how the various management strategies presented in the preliminary alternatives might impact its resources and values. As part of the planning effort, park managers will consider all of the impacts, both positive and negative, that these strategies may have. As we learn the results of this scientific research, we share this information with our email list and below.
The Moose-Wilson corridor contains an exceptionally wide variety of scenery that can be viewed throughout the seasons. The goal of the plan is to preserve the exceptional variety of scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities within the Moose-Wilson corridor. Watch the Scenery of the Moose-Wilson Corridor video to see the wildlife and scenery of the corridor in action. While no formal report has been created, park managers are evaluating how the management strategies presented in the preliminary alternatives might impact scenic values.
A soundscape is quite simply all of the sounds in a given habitat, whether generated by living or non-living things. The make-up of any given soundscape is a key indicator of ecosystem health and the impacts humans are having on that ecosystem. Park staff have installed sound monitors throughout the Moose-Wilson corridor in order to research the corridor's soundscape. You can read the results of this research in this Moose-Wilson Corridor Soundscape Report. For a sample of the recordings captured at one of these monitoring stations, listen to the Soundscape Portrait of the Moose-Wilson Corridor. To decipher any sounds you couldn't identify, use this guide to the soundscape portrait.
In order to better understand the cultural resources that enliven, enrich, and inform our understanding and appreciation of the past, the park has conducted Cultural Landscapes Inventories of four areas in the corridor. Inventories for the Murie Ranch, the White Grass Ranch, the Sky Ranch, and the Moose-Wilson Road Corridor examine the history, significance, and integrity of these cultural landscapes. Park managers are considering these inventories as they plan for the future of the corridor.
The Moose-Wilson corridor is a special place for wildlife. The Snake River is closer to the Teton Range in the corridor than at any other location in the park. This provides a convergence of the park's major natural communities--wetlands, sagebrush, forest, and alpine--within a compact area. This diverse vegetation means plenty of forage and cover for a large variety of wildlife, including black and grizzly bears, wolves, elk, moose, beavers, and migratory birds. The plan aims to protect and maintain the natural function, diversity, complexity, and resiliency of the ecological systems and natural communities of the corridor.
One wildlife management challenge in the corridor is the human-bear interface. This challenge is illustrated by Senior Wildlife Biologist Steve Cain (now retired) in Bears of the Moose-Wilson Corridor. In order to better understand the human-bear interface in the corridor, the park contracted with independent biologist Grant MacHutchon to conduct a Human-Bear Interaction Risk Assessment in the summer of 2014. MacHutchon's report includes many specific recommendations to park managers, which are being considered along with information gathered about other resources and values.
Visitor Use and Experience
Independent study teams from Utah State University and Penn State University have been conducting interdisciplinary research on visitor use and experience in the Moose-Wilson corridor. The team from Utah State has designed studies to understand visitor use levels, the types of visitors, and visitor impacts associated with use in the corridor. The team from Penn State has examined the quality of experience visitors have when they visit the corridor. The teams conducted their research during the summers of 2013 and 2014 as well as the winter in between. In addition, a team from Penn State conducted a visitor preference study in 2015. Peer-reviewed technical reports from those research teams appear below.
Utah State summer 2013 report on visitor use→Appendices
Utah State winter 2013-2014 report on visitor use
Utah State summer 2014 report on visitor use→Appendices
Penn State summer 2014 report on visitor experience
Penn State visitor preference study June 2015
The corridor is one of the most archaeologically rich areas of the park. Relatively little was known about the native heritage in the corridor until recent archaeological studies and tribal consultations were conducted as part of the Moose-Wilson planning effort. The findings of those studies and consultations include one new archaeological site that had not been previously documented, the largest documented concentration of tipi rings in the park, and one site that may contain double tipi rings. These are described in this Native Heritage in the Moose-Wilson Corridor report.
The Moose-Wilson corridor contains a complex system of wetlands, mountain seeps, springs, and streams as well as Phelps Lake and the Snake River. These aquatic resources provide important habitat for fish, beaver, moose, and the greatest diversity of amphibians anywhere in the park. This water resources map shows the lakes, rivers, streams, irrigation ditches, and wetlands that make up the hydrology of the corridor.
Large vegetation such as aspens, chokecherries, hawthorns, and trees are relatively close to the roadside in the Moose-Wilson corridor, creating an intimate experience for visitors. These native plants predominate in the corridor, bit they are at risk from invasive plant species. This map of non-native infested areas shows areas that are infested with noxious weeds such as St. John's wort, oxeye daisy, spotted knapweed, and musk thistle. Park staff document these areas and actively treat them to remove the invasive species, which are prevalent due to the area's history of homesteading and dude ranching.
The Western Federal Lands Highway Division of the Department of Transportation conducted an independent Road Safety Audit of the Moose-Wilson corridor in September of 2013. Their Road Safety Audit report makes a number of recommendations for safety improvement that are being considered and analyzed as part of the planning effort. The report also identifies the positive safety aspects of the current road corridor including surface conditions, road characteristics, and warning and guidance signs.
Visitor Capacity Determination
To determine the Moose-Wilson corridor's visitor capacity, the planning team divided the corridor's visitation into its four major areas. The team then evaluated the desired resource and visitor experience conditions, current visitor use levels, and potential management strategies for each of these locations. This process ultimately led to a capacity determination of 550 people at one time. Since personal vehicles are the primary way visitors currently reach the corridor, people at one time was translated to 200 vehicles at one time. You can learn more about this analysis, as well as how traffic volume data confirms the capacity determination, projected queuing wait times under the preferred alternative, and how the implementation of the queuing system may influence visitor behavior in the visitor capacity determination handout
or in Appendix A of the Draft Plan/EIS
Public Review and Comment
The planning effort included three opportunities for the public to provide input. Newsletters and public comment reports from the first two public comment periods are included below. The public comment report for the Draft Plan/EIS is contained in the Final Plan/EIS
The NPS solicited comments with a public scoping newsletter from December 6, 2013 through February 6, 2014. The NPS received 1,007 pieces of correspondence from across the country that were analyzed and summarized in a public scoping comment report.
The NPS solicited comments with a preliminary alternatives newsletter from August 15, 2014 through September 15, 2014. The NPS received 2,605 individual correspondences from across the country and around the world that were analyzed and summarized in a
The Moose-Wilson Corridor Draft Comprehensive Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (Draft Plan/EIS) was available for public review and comment at go.nps.gov/mwplan from October 29 through January 30, 2015. The response to these comments can be found within the Final Plan/EIS.