The Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments (OSLI) is considering auctioning off 640 acres (1 square mile) of State Trust Land within Grand Teton National Park (GTNP), which could give Wyoming the dubious distinction of becoming the first state to ever auction off land inside a national park.
Since 2020 the Legislature has required OSLI to maximize revenue from state lands in Teton County.
But the value of the Kelly Parcel cannot be measured simply by the maximum amount it can draw at auction. The value also includes things we cannot put a price tag on, including:
- its role in the larger ecosystem, notably as a migration corridor for elk and antelope and as habitat for numerous species;
- accessibility to hunters, anglers, and other outdoor users;
- and, most importantly, as a symbol that public land within our national parks cannot be sold off to the highest bidder.
The potential for auction began with the October “Notice of Proposed Disposal of State Trust Land in Teton County.” Hearings are scheduled across the state in November, and written public comments are being accepted through 5 p.m. Dec. 1.
Casper, 5:30 pm, Thyra Thomson State Office Building, 444 W. Collins Dr., Casper, WY 82601, Round House Room
Cheyenne, 5:00 pm, Laramie County Library, 2200 Pioneer Ave., Cheyenne, WY 82001, Cottonwood Room (1st Floor)
Cody, 5:30 pm, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Cody Field Office 2 Tilden Trail, Cody, WY 82414, Cody Field Office Public Meeting Room
Hearing in Cheyenne where State Land Board will determine whether to go to auction
This is the latest — and most extreme — example of OSLI and the State Land Board disregarding Wyoming’s historic support for local control and prioritizing the Almighty Dollar over the value our public lands provide to wildlife, hunters, anglers, and other outdoor users.
If the auction proceeds, the Kelly Parcel will surely become another flagrant example of Wyoming valuing exploitation of the land over preservation and public access.
- This could be the first time any state has pursued auctioning off public land within the boundaries of a national park.
- Earlier this year, the Land Board approved a controversial gas lease in the pinch point of a world-famous pronghorn migration path without the wildlife protections requested by two state agencies.
- On the ‘390 Parcel’ alongside Teton Village Road, the Land Board approved construction of a ‘glamping’ resort over local objections. Gov. Mark Gordon now calls them ‘pimples on the landscape.’
- And State Trust Lands near Munger Mountain, south of Wilson, or in other Wyoming communities could be the next target.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
The state has done the right thing before: In 2016, GTNP acquired a 640-acre parcel in Antelope Flats for $46 million through a joint effort with the Grand Teton National Park Foundation. This example of a public-private partnership shines as a victory for all parties involved.
The best outcome for the Kelly Parcel would be for it to be sold to park service so it can be permanently protected within GTNP for generations to come. Such a move would require the Wyoming Legislature to come together around the common-sense idea of preserving public lands and to pass a bill to determine its value and ultimate buyer like it did eight years ago with Antelope Flats.
It is possible to stop the auction and to protect our Public Lands. But only if we speak up!
Tell the Wyoming Board of Land Commissioners to Stop the Auction and to give the Wyoming Legislature the opportunity to protect our Public Lands.