At a public meeting last week in Jackson, Wyoming, more than 20 people filled the time allotted for public comment with expressions of opposition to a proposal to auction off a parcel of land within Grand Teton National Park to the highest bidder. The “Kelly parcel” is a 640-acre piece of Wyoming state trust land that is bordered on three sides by Grand Teton National Park, and on the fourth side by the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
The Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments (OSLI) is under pressure to sell the parcel to generate revenue for schools after the parcel was appraised at over $62 million in 2022. However, given the unique location of the parcel and its importance to the “Path of the Pronghorn” migration route, the proposal to auction the parcel off to the highest bidder has quickly become controversial and unpopular. Jason Crowder, deputy director of OSLI, said after Thursday’s meeting that he has yet to hear anyone express support for the auction proposal. “This is special land, we all know it,” said Bill Schwartz, a Jackson resident, summarizing the sentiment of many of the proposal’s critics.
Many opponents of the auction proposal have expressed support for an alternative: selling the parcel to the National Park Service, which is interested in acquiring it if the Wyoming state legislature passes a bill allowing a direct sale. “We are really concerned about inappropriate development,” said Chip Jenkins, superintendent of Grand Teton National Park. “The National Park Service stands ready once again to work in collaboration and partnership, if we can figure out a way to be able to provide revenue for schools, to be able to prevent development and have this preserved as part of the park.”
Last Thursday’s meeting was the second of four public meetings being held to hear input on the proposal. Written comments are also being accepted through December 1st. A decision will be made by the State Board of Land Commissioners when it meets on December 7th.
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Quote of the day
This is like a poster child of all the things that went wrong with the Trump administration’s rush to blanket public lands with oil and gas leases.”
—Landon Newell, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Salt Lake Tribune