Hunters, wildlife advocates, and other concerned citizens will gather today to urge the Wyoming Board of Land Commissioners not to hold an auction for a parcel of state-owned land located within Grand Teton National Park. Led by the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, rally-goers will advocate that the parcel should be sold directly to the National Park Service rather than be sold to the highest bidder, which could open the land to private development.
The 640-acre undeveloped parcel, known as the Kelly parcel, borders Grand Teton National Park on three sides and Bridger-Teton National Forest on the other. The parcel is an important pathway for pronghorn to enter and leave the national park and is home to 86 species listed as Wyoming Species of Greatest Conservation Need. It is also utilized for cattle grazing, hunting, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
After a 2022 appraisal valued the property at $62.4 million, the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments (OSLI) began considering the sale of the Kelly parcel. The pressure to sell comes from the state constitution, which states that OSLI is required to generate revenue for public schools from state trust lands.
If the auction moves forward, Wyoming will become the first state known to have auctioned off the public land inside a national park to a private owner. “If you want to see the greatest amount of political scorn rain down on this state, just put this in an auction,” said Kermit Brown, former Wyoming Speaker of the House. “We’d absolutely be the scorn of this nation and we’d never recover from it.” The Wyoming legislature could pass a bill to keep the land from going to auction and instead sell it directly to the National Park Service, although previous attempts to do so have been unsuccessful.
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Quote of the day
The Dolores River Canyon Country is one of Western Colorado’s most outstanding natural treasures, which most people have never heard of. For five decades, Coloradans have strived to protect these dramatic canyons, wildlife-rich mesas and verdant river bottoms throughout the Dolores canyons. It’s past due for this incredible place to receive the protections it deserves.”
—Scott Braden, director of the Colorado Wildlands Project, The Journal
The contrasting colors of the yellow cottonwoods and the red sandstone at Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona during the fall are incredible.The park is located within the Navajo Nation, with families living in the canyon and connecting to a landscape of great historical and spiritual significance. The national monument is a striking reminder of how the federal government and Tribes can work together to manage and protect our important landscapes.
Photo by Nina Mayer Ritchie | @ninamayerritchie
Featured photo: Pronghorn in Grand Teton National Park. Photo: Shiny Things, Flickr