Wyoming to sell part of the Grand Teton National Park!

In a move to kick the spurs on the federal government, the governor of Wyoming, Dave Freudenthal, has threatened to sell two parcels of land inside the Grand Teton National Park. These two parcels are owned by the state. They are about one square mile each and are “state school trust lands”. They were given to the state in order to generate funds for the public school system. It is the state government’s responsibility to have the land “managed for maximum profit.” Currently, the state is receiving only $3,000 per year for grazing rights given to a local cattle rancher, even though the land is estimated to be worth over $100 million.

The state has been negotiating with the federal government for over 10 years to try and come to an equitable agreement by exchanging the land for parcels elsewhere of equal value. The state would like to have a section of land that could be developed for higher economic gain, such as, coal mining. The Governor has finally had enough. In an article on National Public Radio, Freudenthal stated, “If the federal government won’t dance with us, we will go look for another partner.”

The governor has had many run-ins with the federal government over the years, but because he is not up for reelection he has nothing to lose in this battle.

Many don’t want to see the park land sold and don’t feel it will get to that point. They point to a similar deal that was made in 1999 with the state of Utah. Nearly 600 square miles of state owned land inside many national parks was swapped. Utah ended up with $50 million plus 240 square miles of federal land. Everyone hopes that the federal government can broker a similar deal with Wyoming.

The federal government on their part is being silent on the negotiations. All they say is that they continue to work with state to come to a amicable solution.

Currently the state and feds have agreed to an appraisal of the land in order to determine a proper value.

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