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Some residents near Yellowstone say land use plan doesn’t include enough data to protect wildlife

Park County land use plan
Park County Land Use Plan

Zoning officials in a Yellowstone gateway community moved forward with a plan that will guide future land use. But, some residents say it doesn’t represent their preferences to protect wildlife and agricultural lands.

More than two dozen people testified in support of an earlier version of the Park County land use plan. That draft included more data on where big game animals spend their time and suggested a 20-acre minimum lot size for ag lands.

Mary Rumsey serves on the Meeteetse Area planning committee.

“This is so important. You have so much power in your hands. Get it right for us and future generations. We don’t want to live in some mess,” she said.

The Powell Tribune reports that the Park County Commissioners rejected the earlier version of the plan after hearing public testimony speaking in favor of property rights, which sent the draft back to the planning and zoning commission for revision.

At the planning and zoning meeting on Tuesday, about half a dozen people urged the commission to move forward with passing the current version of the plan, some of whom mentioned the importance of personal decisions and private property rights.

The planning and zoning commission decided to greenlight a version of the plan that removed some data on where big game are found, specifically low and medium use areas, and doesn’t recommend a minimum lot size for ag land.

While the document doesn’t include zoning changes, Park County Planning and Zoning Commissioner Duncan Bonine, expressed concern that it could lead to future regulations.

“We generally did not wish for any of those overlays to have an opportunity to become additional regulation,” he said.

Now that the Planning and Zoning Commission has certified the plan it will go before the Park County board of commissioners for consideration.

Olivia Weitz is based at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. She covers Yellowstone National Park, wildlife, and arts and culture throughout the region. Olivia’s work has aired on NPR and member stations across the Mountain West. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom story workshop. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, cooking, and going to festivals that celebrate folk art and music.

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