FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Nov. 8, 2023
More than 1,000 people have already registered opposition to auctioning off State Trust Land in Grand Teton National Park since launch of Stop-the-Auction.com
Jackson, Wyo. — As Wyoming officials explore auctioning off 640 acres of State Trust Land within Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) to the highest bidder, the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance is urging people to speak up to shut down the horrible idea.
The first of four public hearings on the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investment’s (OSLI) proposed “Disposal at Auction” of the 640-acre “Kelly Parcel” in GTNP is planned for 5:30 p.m. MT Thursday at the Teton County Library, 125 Virginian Ln., Jackson.
“An auction would be like putting an ‘Open House’ sign in one of America’s preeminent national parks and inviting any billionaire speculator on the planet to commandeer an American treasure,” said Dave Sollitt, Executive Director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance. “If they go to auction, the state and everyone loses control. That’s how auctions work.”
Sollitt urged public lands supporters to turn out and voice their opposition to the auction (the meetings will be live-streamed for interested parties unable to attend).
“National Parks are rightly heralded as ‘America’s best idea,’ and auctioning off public lands within Grand Teton National Park would stand out as Wyoming’s worst idea,” he said. “There is only one, best possible outcome for the Kelly Parcel, and that is to forget any talk of an auction and begin working on a legislative solution that results in a sale to the National Park Service, where it belongs.”
On Monday, dozens of sportsmen, wildlife advocates, and other alarmed citizens rallied on the Jackson Town Square to tell the Wyoming Board of Land Commissioners in no uncertain terms: Stop the Auction. Rally-goers amplified calls to sell the undeveloped Kelly Parcel directly to the National Park Service rather than saddle Wyoming with the dubious distinction of becoming the first state known to have auctioned off public land inside a national park.
Also this week, the Alliance launched Stop-the-Auction.com to provide a quick and easy way for people to learn more about the issue and submit public comments. As of Wednesday morning, more than 1,000 people had already registered their opposition.
While a public auction would dramatically increase the chance of private development, Monday’s rally highlighted the larger value of the Kelly Parcel as public land. Bordering GTNP and a portion of the National Elk Refuge on three sides, and the Bridger-Teton National Forest on the other, the parcel is an important migration corridor for elk, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope entering and leaving the national park. It serves as habitat for 86 species listed as Wyoming Species of Greatest Conservation Need, and is currently accessible to hunters, birders, horseback riders, and other outdoor users. Perhaps most importantly, it also serves as an affirmation that public land within our national parks cannot be sold off to developers or billionaires.
Following a 2022 appraisal that valued the property at $62.4 million, OSLI began considering its sale as a means of generating revenue for public schools. The Wyoming Legislature could pass a bill requiring the parcel to be sold directly to the National Park Service, where it would be permanently protected within GTNP for generations to come. At auction, it will go to the highest bidder and is not guaranteed to remain public.