“You go to places all over the country and you have to pay for access to public lands and we have largely avoided that here,” says Rebecca Reimers, executive director of the Jackson-based Snake River Fund. “It’s pretty special. Our goal is to engage the community in stewarding our resources.”
The Snake River Fund was founded in the late 1990's when user impact on the Snake River Canyon—the main stretch of whitewater in Jackson Hole and a section of river that between 3,000 and 5,000 people can float with outfitters on a peak summer day- was taking its toll. Illegal guiding was rampant and due to a shrinking budget, Forest Service presence was minimal. A group of dedicated local river users didn’t like it. Rather than just complain though, they founded the nonprofit, Snake River Fund. Thanks to a $50,000 seed donation the Fund began with the idea of encouraging voluntary buy-in from the public who loved this bit of public land.
The Fund also helps with river ranger salaries, facilities upkeep, safety and law enforcement training, guide education, and conservation initiatives. In addition to individual donations, outfitters who work on the river have been generous. “It’s a great example of a public-private partnership,” Reimers says. In fact, the Snake River Fund is the only such public-private river partnership of its kind in the country. Check out a video to see the story about the founding of the Snake River Fund.
With an expanded base of supporters the Snake River Fund is today working with Teton County elected officials and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to transfer the ownership and management of 1,000+ acres of land along the Snake River between the southern boundary of Grand Teton National Park and the South Park Boat Ramp (seven miles south of the town of Jackson on Highway 89). Currently, a dozen or so isolated parcels of varying size along this stretch are owned by the BLM. The majority of land in this area is privately owned though. Over the next few years, the BLM parcels will come to belong and be managed by Teton County.
In the near future, these parcels will have an official and enforced management plan. The much needed plan will address problems like people overstaying camping regulations and building illegal boat ramps. The management plan will allow picnicking on some parcels. Others might allow camping. Since the parcels are on public federal lands until the transfers and management plan are complete, all of the BLM parcels are open to picnicking and camping. See where these parcels are on this map .
It’s important to know that in Wyoming, private ownership of land extends to the middle of the river. So make sure you know you’re stopping on a BLM parcel and not someone’s ranch. Boaters are not allowed to park or anchor boats on private lots.
Reimers recommends floating and SUPing the stretch of river where all of these parcels are located. Put in at the Wilson Bridge, and then you can take out 8 or 13 miles downstream. The first take-out is seven miles down Fall Creek Road, at parcel 23 on this map . If you’re feeling like a 13-mile float, you take out at the South Park Boat Ramp.
The Snake River is a fantastic place to play on the water. Rebecca Reimers, executive director of the Snake River Fund offers some practical advice so you can get the best out of the experience.
RootsRated: How would you describe this stretch of river?
Reimers: It is really quite lovely. It’s got great fishing and might have the highest concentration of eagles of any stretch in the valley. There are so many cottonwood stands.
RR: It’s flat water?
Reimers: It is flat, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy. It is very braided. People need to be careful about strainers and obstacles. It changes all the time too. You can never just assume the channel you’re in is going to go.
RR: Is it mostly rafters on this stretch?
Reimers: Yes, but more and more SUPers are doing the first half of it, starting at Wilson Bridge and taking out at parcel 23 on Fall Creek Road. It’s a great after-work paddle board. It only takes a couple of hours and the shuttle is pretty easy.
RR: Shuttle recommendations?
Reimers: This summer, you can no longer drive right down to the river here from Fall Creek Road, but there will be a small parking lot along the road you can park at and from there it’s a short walk.Fromthe Wilson Bridge, head west on Highway 22 to the base of Teton Pass. Fall Creek Road is a left just across from the Stagecoach Bar. Go about seven miles down that road. You’ll want to have looked at the GIS map to see exactly where you need to go. ** **
RR: How can you recognize where you need to take out from the water?
Reimers: It’ll be just downstream of a tipi camp that is set up on a private ranch. Again, consult the map.