May 20, 2008
Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott and the staff of Grand Teton National Park hosted over 100 people at an outdoor event on Saturday, May 17, to mark the beginning of construction on multi-use pathways in the park. National Park Service Intermountain Region Director Mike Snyder, National Parks and Conservation Association President Tom Kiernan and Trustee Emeritus Gretchen Long, Friends of Pathways Board Member Don Alsted, and Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) served as honored guest speakers for a groundbreaking ceremony held in Moose, Wyoming against a backdrop of the snow-covered Teton Range.
Superintendent Scott welcomed the audience, which included David Axelrad, father of Gabriella Axelrad. Thirteen-year-old Gabriella was accidentally killed by an inattentive driver while bicycling on a park road in 1999, and her untimely death began a movement to establish separated pathways in Grand Teton.
Superintendent Scott also paid tribute to the late Senator Craig Thomas for his unwavering dedication to Grand Teton National Park and his ability to secure federal appropriations for special projects such as the new Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center and multi-use pathways. Senator Thomas was able to obtain $8 million in federal appropriations for park pathways.
In addition, Superintendent Scott acknowledged the interest and support shown by the local community, as well as the Teton County commissioners, Jackson Mayor Mark Barron and the Jackson Town Council, who have been instrumental in establishing pathways within the town of Jackson and the valley of Jackson Hole. At the completion of remarks, Superintendent Scott invited all the guest speakers to join her with gold-colored shovels in hand to break ground where the pathway will be constructed.
Full construction will begin later this month on the first pathway segment—an 8-mile section that runs parallel to the Teton Park Road from Dornan’s, near the junction with Highway 26/89/191, to the South Jenny Lake area. The first portion of the pathway segment will be complete in fall of 2008, with the remainder completed by fall of 2009. Superintendent Scott reminded the audience that the park’s transportation plan will be implemented in stages as planning, design and appropriations become available.
In her final remarks, Superintendent Scott said: “As the pathway begins to take shape, we recognize the important balance between maintaining critical wildlife habitat and providing safe visitor access. Through these pathways, along with our hiking trails and new visitor center, we have set the stage for our visitors to form personal connections that inspire them to become more conservation-minded, and more engaged in helping to care for the land, our incomparable wildlife, and our common heritage. We need to keep in mind that all of us are stewards of this special place, for present-day and future generations.”