Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Deal: $46M for Interior to buy state land in Grand Teton

Gov. Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced a deal Monday under which the Interior Department would buy a square mile of state land inside Grand Teton National Park for $46 million, a big step toward ensuring the pristine property remains in public hands. Under the deal, Congress would appropriate $23 million toward the purchase price. The Grand Teton National Park Foundation and National Park Foundation would provide the rest and have raised $5 million toward that goal, according to Interior. The sagebrush-covered property in Jackson Hole, owned by Wyoming since statehood, offers a wide view of the iconic Teton Range. The land never became part of the busy park in western Wyoming despite being surrounded by park land on all sides. The sale, along with the potential sale of one other square-mile piece of state land in the park, would need to be completed by the end of this year. Otherwise the state could put the land up for sale at a public auction. A growing movement in Western states including Wyoming seeks to wrest control of federal lands from the federal government, not the other way around. But Wyoming for years has wanted the Interior Department to buy or trade for its land in Grand Teton. The problem: While Wyoming could, and did, lease the land for cattle grazing, the revenue was a pittance compared to the land's value. Revenue from the land and other school-trust parcels in Wyoming go to public education...more

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