- Associated Press - Sunday, May 28, 2017

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) - Over the past 20 years, the Grand Teton National Park Foundation has raised more than $65 million for the site in Wyoming.

Foundation President Leslie Mattson told the Jackson Hole News & Guide (https://bit.ly/2qkKBAi) that its next priorities include the cultural preservation of the Mormon Row area and improving public access to the Snake River.

The foundation was created in 1997 as the primary fundraising partner for the park.

The projects and initiatives it has funded have aimed to improve visitor services, preserve park resources and provide outreach to a variety of people. Grand Teton has nearly 5 million visitors a year.

The first major fundraising project for the foundation was the construction of the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, which opened its first phase in 2007 and its auditorium in 2011.

“The visitor center really put us on the map in terms of having capacity to help the park,” Mattson told the newspaper. “Before there was a foundation I don’t think people knew they had the ability to help the park through philanthropy.”

After the visitor center, the next big fundraising goal was $14 million for the Jenny Lake Renewal project. The project is underway and includes the repair of trails and the addition of overlooks and interpretive exhibits.

Other highlights of the partnership include the addition of trails and bridges, conservation and research of native wildlife, and the purchase by private groups of 640 acres on Antelope Flats - one of the most important wildlife habitats in the region.

The foundation raised $23 million in private funds for the purchase, which was matched by $23 million from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

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