By Tom Ninnemann, Cowboy State Daily
A bill that would allow the state of Wyoming to sell certain state lands within Grand Teton National Park will be heard for the first time this week in the House of Representatives.
Sponsored by Rep. Andy Schwartz and co-sponsored by Senator Mike Gierau, both D-Jackson, House Bill 164 would authorize the state Board of Land Commissioners to sell to the United States or a federal agency the 640-acre section of land known as the Kelly Parcel on the east edge of the park.
The sale would be for cash, and proceeds from the sale is to be deposited to the common school account within the permanent land fund.
An amendment put on the bill in committee specifies that the sale price for the land will be no less than $500,000 per acre for a total sale price of $320 million.
But Schwartz said the federal government is limited to purchasing for no more than appraised value – and an appraisal has not yet been done.
Still, Schwartz said the measure would open the door to negotiation and prevent the state from putting the parcel up for auction.
The parcel is the last remaining tract of “school trust” land within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park. The land was given to Wyoming by the federal government when it became a state and later became part of the park when it was created in 1950.
The state in 2016 sold another 640-acre parcel in the park, the “Antelope Flats” parcel, to the National Park Service for $46 million.