A developer's plan to install a golf course and 71 houses along the Snake River near Jackson has raised convoluted legal questions that sound more like bad jokes. One example: How many eagles does it take to build a golf course?
That question came up when the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service granted Dick Edgcomb an "incidental take"
permit in April, allowing Edgcomb's proposed Canyon Club
development to displace or kill up to 18 of the bald eagles that
nest along the river.
Edgcomb controls six miles
of riverbank on a pristine stretch of the Snake River Canyon. His
1,200-acre parcel, surrounded by national forest, is a scenic
gateway to Jackson Hole. The development also would preserve 322
acres as open space, but it's stirred opposition from river
runners, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and the Jackson Hole
Concerned about the eagles
and that the project might lead to levees and other river controls,
environmentalists are suing in federal court. They're trying to
force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which issued the basic
permit, to do a full environmental impact
How eagles would react to the Canyon Club
is an open question. "Eagles have personalities like you and I do,"
says Dave Cernicek, river manager on the Bridger-Teton National
Forest. "I might not be bothered by a bulldozer in my front yard.
You might not be able to stand it."