JACKSON, Wyo. — The curtain has nearly closed on 2022, and tomorrow we will enter a year anew. But before the clock strikes midnight, Buckrail takes a moment to reflect on some of the year’s biggest headlines. Journey with us as we take a walk down memory lane.
Winter 2022: A Double-Edged Sword
Winter in the Tetons went in with a whimper and out with a bang in 2022. January through March brought little-to-no snow in the Tetons.
But winter made a late-season comeback in April with heavy snowfall and unseasonably cold temperatures. Turns out, that was just a warm-up. Come November, winter returned with deep early-season powder. To date, consistent storm cycles have brought over 230 inches to the mountains in the last two months of the year.
Historic Floods Dramatically Change Yellowstone
In June, aggressive floods in Yellowstone National Park wreaked havoc on roads, buildings, tourists and gateway communities in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
The historic floodwaters tore out bridges and poured into nearby homes. The disaster drove more than 10,000 visitors out of the nation’s oldest national park and damaged hundreds of homes in nearby communities, though remarkably no one was reported hurt or killed.
Just ten days later, park managers raised the gates at three of Yellowstone’s five entrances to welcome back visitors although full recovery efforts in Yellowstone continue and are estimated to take up to five years.
Teton Glacier Melting Faster Than it is Gaining
An annual glacier surface elevation survey conducted by scientists in Grand Teton National Park determined that the Middle Teton Glacier is melting faster overall than it is gaining.
Grand Teton National Park said that in 2021 alone, park scientists found overall glacial thinning with up to 6.3 meters of ice loss from the GPS survey. According to the park, glaciers are sensitive indicators of climate change.
Roe v. Wade and Wyoming’s Abortion Ban
An ongoing legal battle, Johnson v. State of Wyoming, which originated in Teton County, has since blocked the ban from going into effect. On Dec. 2, Teton County’s Ninth Judicial District Judge Melissa Owens sent the case, along with 12 questions to the Wyoming Supreme Court. The Court denied taking the case on Dec. 20, citing the “limited factual record provided.” While the case can be brought back to the Supreme Court for it to accept or decline in the future, the ball is back in Teton County’s court. Both sides have expressed that they expect any lower court-level decisions to ultimately be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
2022 Midterm Elections
2022 also hosted the midterm election and in Wyoming, Liz Cheney ran to win back the state’s lone House of Representatives seat.
The third-term Republican lost her seat to Trump-endorsed lawyer Harriet Hageman during the primary election. Hageman went on to win the House seat beating Democratic candidate Lynette Grey Bull. During the lead-up to the general election, Cheney endorsed democratic candidates but avoided endorsing Grey Bull.
Following her loss, Cheney has hinted at running for president in 2024, saying it’s, “something that I’m thinking about.”
Locally, shake-ups occurred during the general election and all 15 SPET items on the 2022 ballot were approved by Teton County voters.
Guide Details Rare Wolverine Sighting in Yellowstone
In March, MacNeil Lyons, a guide in Yellowstone encountered “the most elusive animal in the lower 48 states”; a wolverine. In just three minutes, Lyons was able to capture 130 frames of the creature with his personal camera.
Wolverines live in extremely low densities in and around Yellowstone National Park. A conservative estimate is that there are six or so in the park which is 2.2 million acres in size.
399 Separates From Her Cubs
In May, famous mama bear, grizzly 399 successfully weaned off her four famous cubs. During the last two years, the family spent a significant amount of time near residential areas and received numerous food rewards, garnering significant public attention.
‘Blondie’ Grizzly Bear Loses Cubs
Park officials confirmed in June that the popular Grizzly 793, also known as Blondie, lost her three cubs.
C.J. Adams, the public affairs specialist for Grand Teton National Park, said the last confirmed sighting of Blondie with her cubs was around dark on the night of June 10 in the Pilgrim Flats area of the park. Park officials who have managed bear jams throughout the spring and summer spotted her. By the next morning, she was spotted again, this time without her cubs. While the exact cause of the cubs’ death is unknown, Adams says it was most likely predation by a male grizzly.
Yellowstone Sees Three Bison Goring Incidents in Two Months
Between May and June, Yellowstone National Park reported three bison goring incidents in the park.
The first occurred on May 30 when a woman approached a bison near a boardwalk at Black Sand Basin. The second happened when a man approached a bison near a boardwalk at Giant Geyser on June 28. That same week, a 71-year-old woman from West Chester, Pennsylvania, was gored by a bull bison near Storm Point at Yellowstone Lake on Wednesday, June 29.
Bull Moose Interrupts Soccer Game
A bull moose briefly stole the show (and the internet) at a youth soccer game in October when it ran across the field during play.
Former Teton County Commissioner and real estate agent, Barbara Allen documented the scene in three parts, one of which gained over 120,000 views on social media.
Mountain Lions on the Prowl in Teton Valley
In November, a Driggs resident snapped multiple photos of a full-sized mountain lion peeking from the front porch into their home.
In the same week, there were several reports of another mountain lion, or perhaps the same one, roaming in the southeast corner of Victor in the Aspen Grove/ Hidden Waters neighborhood.
Elk Arrive Early to the Refuge
By mid-December, large numbers of elk had already arrived on the National Elk Refuge. In fact, a weekly wildlife count conducted by Eric Cole, senior wildlife biologist at the National Elk Refuge, determined that current elk numbers on the Refuge were four times higher than what is typically seen for that time of year.
In a normal year around 6,000 to 7,000 elk make their way to the Refuge. By Dec. 13, 4,040 elk had already made their way to the area.
Local Business Shake-ups
2022 was also a year of mergers, closures, and new faces for local businesses. The community said goodbye to Thai Me Up after 22 years. The property will be the site of a new short-term rental condo development, approved by the Town Council in July.
Nora’s hit the community with some huevos rancheros whiplash. The restaurant announced it was closing its doors but in two weeks’ time, a new buyer stepped in and announced they would reopen the restaurant.
A couple of mergers, big and small rolled through the community. Bank of Jackson Hole was acquired by NBHC, a colorado based company. Alberton’s and Kroger announced a merger, and then a pause. In Jackson, that means two of the major grocery stores, Albertson’s and Smith’s would now be owned by the same parent company. Two local and well-loved breweries joined forces as Roadhouse Brewing Co. acquired Melvin Brewing.
Some new-ish faces joined the 2022 food scene, Snake River Roasting Co. and Provisions teamed up to open a new cafe in Jackson, a new food truck series, “Monday’s in May” kicked off during the summer and a new Sidewinders is set to open in 2023 at the site of the old Roadhouse Q on the Village Road.
Visitation to the National Parks—Grand Teton and Yellowstone was down this year compared to 2021’s record-breaking year. Visitation was down in Yellowstone this past summer and could mostly be attributed to the flooding event.
While winter occupancy in Jackson Hole appeared to be unaffected by last winter’s low snowfall, spring, summer and fall occupancy fell about 10% short compared to 2021. Kent Elliott, director of destination global sales for Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, attributed the decline in occupancy this summer to inflation, a reduction in travel, and a wider variety of travel options due to markets re-opening, ie. international travel, and theme parks.
While tourism showed a pattern of letting up, Teton County Search and Rescue reported that 2022 was the busiest year ever.
Summer of supermoons
There was a streak of supermoons this summer. May, June, July and August’s full moons were all supermoons meaning the moon is less than 360,000 kilometers from the center of the Earth, appearing big and bright in the night sky.
2022 Winter Olympics
The Winter Olympics kicked off the year in Beijing, China from Feb. 4-20 where Alta, Wyoming-raised skier Jaelin Kauf, won silver in freestyle moguls.
Local alpine skier Breezy Johnson announced on Jan. 25 that she had to withdraw from competition due to a knee injury.
War in Ukraine
On Feb. 24, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russia-Ukrainian War, which began in 2014. To date, the invasion has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths on both sides.
In March, a large crowd gathered on Jackson’s Town Square in a show of support for Ukraine. Sam Stein, a local firefighter, has delivered and donated firefighting, EMS and rescue equipment to frontline fire departments throughout Ukraine since the conflict began.
Queen Elizabeth Dies After 70 Years on the Throne
Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, died Sept. 8 after 70 years on the throne. She was 96.
Rounding out the year in review, we thought we would end on a positive note, and maybe a reminder to keep a steady eye on the night sky. Happy New Year from all of us at Buckrail!