- Associated Press - Friday, August 12, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The State Board of Land Commissioners has approved a deal to sell state owned land inside Grand Teton National Park to the federal government.

The board approved the sale of the square-mile section of land Thursday. It includes sagebrush flats east of the park’s iconic mountain peaks, which have been immortalized by Ansel Adams and scores of other photographers.

Under an agreement between the state and the U.S. Interior Department, half of the $46 million for the land will come from a federal conservation fund. The other half must be raised from private sources.

The nonprofit Grand Teton National Park Foundation is working to raise the private funding.

Wyoming has owned the land since it became a state in 1890 and has leased it for cattle grazing. Revenue the state has received from the land has funded public education.

The state owns another square-mile section that it also wants to sell to the federal government.

The sale and the potential sale come amid a growing movement in Western states including Wyoming to wrest control of federal lands from the federal government.

But Wyoming officials want the federal government to take over ownership or trade for the state’s Grand Teton land because they say selling it provides far more money than what the state receives for grazing leases.

Gov. Dave Freudenthal in 2010 threatened to sell to the highest bidder. Within months, federal officials agreed to a $107 million deal under which Interior would buy the state’s more than two square miles of land within the park in four phases over three years.

Two sales of mineral rights generated $2,000 in 2012 and 86 acres of state land was sold for $16 million later that year.

But federal officials in 2014 missed a deadline to buy the section that the land board approved for sale on Thursday.

Instead, federal and state officials began negotiating a possible swap for federal land elsewhere in the state.

This latest agreement also could apply to a remaining square-mile piece of state land on the eastern boundary of Grand Teton. The Interior Department originally agreed to buy that property for $46 million by the end of 2015.

State lands are just one of Grand Teton’s unusual legal attributes.

The compromise legislation that established Grand Teton with its modern day boundaries in 1950 also allows cattle grazing and an annual public elk hunt.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide