Regional Planning Urged for Teton Area – May 08

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – “Spillover” growth from booming Jackson Hole, Wyo., is creating both opportunities and challenges for surrounding counties and an urgent need for “serious and substantial discussions” about their common interests, according to new report by the Sonoran Institute. The high cost of housing in Teton County, Wyo., means long commutes for workers and financial repercussions for surrounding counties and small towns like Victor, Idaho, that must provide schools, water, roads and other services for those workers and their families.

With nearly 300 percent job growth since 1980 in Teton County, Wyo., population and residential building in neighboring Lincoln County, Wyo., and Teton County, Idaho, have surged. The number of workers commuting to the Jackson Hole area has almost doubled since 1990. Lincoln County Planning Director John Woodward says prices are going up in his county, too. “If you’re an employer, you’re worried,” he said. “You have teachers and miners turning down jobs in Star Valley because they can’t afford housing.”

“The ripple effects of rapid growth do not respect city, county or state borders,” said Dennis Glick, regional director of the Sonoran Institute’s Northern Rockies office and an author of Growth Impacts in the Teton Region of Wyoming and Idaho. “We don’t prescribe specific solutions, but we do encourage the affected communities and counties to collaborate on a more regional approach to development, housing and land use goals.”

“It is increasingly clear that the social fabric and financial viability of communities many miles away are being impacted by the ‘spillover’ of growth in the core job market of Jackson Hole,” said Bill Collins of Collins Planning Associates of Jackson Hole, which helped produce the study. Made possible by a grant from the Kendeda Fund for the Sustainability of the Tides Foundation, the report is available at

“In our work across the West, we find that the most effective, enduring solutions for complex growth issues come from the people affected by them,” said Sonoran Institute Executive Director Luther Propst. “This study can help communities and local leaders in the Teton region recognize that collaborating across jurisdictions is key to maintaining prosperity and quality of life for all concerned.”

The nonprofit Sonoran Institute inspires and enables community decisions and public policies that respect the land and people of western North America. Since 1990, the Institute has been helping communities conserve and restore natural and cultural assets and manage growth and change through collaboration, civil dialogue, sound information and big-picture thinking.