Weekly News Roundup: Friday, July 8

Miss the headlines this week? Catch up on an abortion-rights rally in Driggs, the Sandy Fire near Bondurant and a free summer meal program for Teton County youth.
Abortion-rights rally in Driggs, Idaho
A group of teenagers demonstrated in Driggs, Idaho, on Saturday, July 2, to protest the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. Idaho’s trigger law banning nearly all abortions is expected to go into effect as early as Aug. 18. (Courtesy of Natalie Behring)


Abortion-rights demonstration in Driggs

Abortion-rights advocates in the Tetons continue to voice their opposition to the overturning of Roe vs. Wade—the landmark Supreme Court ruling that had guaranteed Americans the constitutional right to abortion since 1973. 

In Driggs, a small group of teenage demonstrators gathered Saturday over the holiday weekend at the city’s main downtown intersection. 19-year-old Tatum Caldwell of Victor organized the protest. She held a sign that read, “For all bodies with a uterus: The right to choose.”

“There’s been a lot of traffic, so we thought this might be a good spot to have people see us and get the word out,” Caldwell said, adding that the group could be back every other Saturday. “[We’re] just trying to get the word out and educate people.”

Many—but far from all—cars honked in support as they drove by the group. 17-year-old Grace Landis of Tetonia said another form of thanks was even more powerful during a difficult time.

“It’s really hard seeing all these older women come out here and thank us for fighting for this again because they had to do it, and they were alive when it [abortion] was illegal,” Landis said. “It’s really hard having to share that emotion, and it sucks.”

Idaho’s trigger law banning nearly all abortions is expected to go into effect as early as Aug. 18, according to the Idaho Capital Sun. However, the law is facing a legal challenge brought by Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and a court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 3. In Wyoming, the state attorney general has 30 days from the ruling to report to the governor and set the Cowboy State’s trigger law in motion. 

Gov. Mark Gordon praised the Supreme Court’s move, calling it “a decisive win for those who have fought for the rights of the unborn for the past 50 years.”

Abortion-rights rally in Driggs

A motorcyclist gives the middle finger to a group of teenage abortion-rights advocates in Driggs on Saturday, July 2. (Courtesy of Natalie Behring)

Almost all of Yellowstone National Park now accessible

Yellowstone National Park reopened its northern loop Saturday, meaning that 93% of its roadways are now accessible to visitors. Entrances in Gardiner and Cooke City, Montana, remain closed due to flood damage from June, but tourists can now get to sites like Dunraven Pass, Bunsen Peak and Mammoth Hot Springs. 

The park also announced that it’s suspending the alternative license plate based entry system, which capped visitation, and some backcountry areas are reopening. The northern loop had been closed for several weeks after flooding forced the entire evacuation of about 10,000 people from Yellowstone. Emergency repairs to roads and wastewater systems enabled a swift recovery, and park officials said they plan to move onto roadways connecting to northern Montana gateway towns in the coming months. 

Fire on Bridger-Teton National Forest mostly contained

As of Wednesday, the Sandy Fire on the Bridger-Teton National Forest is 90% contained. The fire had been burning about six miles southwest of Bondurant in Sublette County since it was reported on June 28. Public Affairs Officer for the forest Mary Cernicek said this was the first fire to get larger than 50 acres on the Bridger-Teton this season but that it was still smaller than some prescribed burns the forest staff controls.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

“We were lucky because it had received a lot of moisture, and we’re in what we consider moderate fire danger,” Cernicek said. “The fire didn’t get a lot of energy and steam behind it, so it did ultimately kind of pitter around in the area and the firefighters were able to get control of it pretty rapidly.”

Still, Cernicek emphasized that ‘moderate’ fire danger doesn’t mean ‘no’ danger.

“I think the big lesson from this one is that things are green and we have received a lot of moisture, and we still have snow in the high country that’s coming off at a nice and steady pace, just like one would want it to. But it didn’t preclude the fire from getting started.”

That’s why it’s especially critical to fully extinguish all campfires, even while there are no fire restrictions in place. The Sandy Fire burned a total of 105 acres, and a local closure remains in place. More information is available at tetonfires.com.

Free daily meals available for Teton County youth

The Teton County School District’s free meal program for area children under 18 is now in full swing for the summer. Free breakfasts are available Monday through Friday from 8:15 to 9:30 a.m. and free lunches from 10:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at both the Jackson and Colter elementary schools.

“With COVID waivers going away and a few things that will be changing into the next year, it’s a great time to take advantage of a free meal,” said Daniel Reed, food service manager for the district. “Whether it be East Jackson all the way down to Hoback or wherever else, we want as many families to know and guardians to know that their kids do have an avenue for free food.”

Children do not have to be enrolled at a district school to qualify for a meal but should live in Teton County. Reed also says the district isn’t taking names or any other identifying information during meal pick-ups. Daily menus are available at tcsd.org.

Greater Yellowstone Botanical Tour launches this weekend

After two years of development, the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Teton Botanical Garden and The Nature Conservancy are inviting the public to a free kick-off of the new Greater Yellowstone Botanical Tour at the museum on Saturday, July 9. KHOL reported on the effort to establish the new installation, which showcases the importance of native plants, last fall.

Three guided tours will be offered Saturday at 12 p.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. The tour is ADA accessible and includes an audio component available in both English and Spanish. More information is available at wildlifeart.org.

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