National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, Intermountain Region Director John A. Wessels and Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott recently announced that the National Park Service (NPS) has purchased the second of four parcels of Wyoming school trust lands within Grand Teton National Park. Eighty-six acres known as the Snake River Parcel were acquired for an appraised value of $16 million with funds made available from congressional appropriations in fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013.
National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said, "This second purchase makes a significant step toward ensuring that state-owned lands within the park's boundary become entirely part of Grand Teton National Park."
Terms for the purchase of state school lands within Grand Teton National Park were set forth in a 2010 agreement between the Department of the Interior and the state of Wyoming. This agreement specified the order in which state parcels would be acquired, and the timeframes for doing so. In April 2011, the first purchase was made with the State receiving $2,000 for a 40-acre parcel of subsurface mineral rights.
Under the terms of the 2010 agreement, the next tract will be the Antelope Flats Parcel, a 640-acre section appraised at $45 million. The deadline for its acquisition is January 5, 2014. With that purchase, the NPS will retain a binding option to acquire the fourth and final parcel: 640 acres with an appraised value of $46 million located along the Gros Ventre Road adjacent to the east park boundary.
At the time of statehood in 1890, the Federal government granted Wyoming sections of land throughout the state to be held in trust to provide revenue for its public schools. Approximately 1,366 acres of school trust lands were subsequently included within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park when the park was enlarged to its present-day size in 1950. The state of Wyoming also held title to 40 acres of subsurface mineral rights within the park. Because of their location in Grand Teton, the State could not fully realize the economic value of these lands as required by its constitution.
Efforts by the NPS to acquire school trust lands within Grand Teton date back many decades. Over the past 10 years, acquisition of these state-owned parcels has remained one of the park's highest priorities.
"We look forward to the eventual purchase of the remaining 1,280 acres of state-owned lands within Grand Teton National Park so that future generations will enjoy unrestricted access to their public lands," stated Intermountain Region Director John A. Wessels.
Hiking in Glacier National Park