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Wyoming inches closer to Kelly Parcel sale, but fears about it falling apart persist

A man in a red shirt on a horse.
Reed Mattison
Outfitter Jake Hutton points towards the edge of the Kelly Parcel where it meets Grand Teton National Park on June 21.

Swaths of sagebrush and sunflowers blanket the Kelly Parcel, where a local outfitter regularly grazes his horse herd.

Wyoming lawmakers left the legislative session in March with a clear plan to sell the state-owned 640 acre parcel to Grand Teton National Park for $100 million.

But one stipulation for the sale could jeopardize the whole thing.

It will only happen if the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) picks a less conservation-focused management plan for the Rock Springs area. The preferred option limits a substantial amount of potential energy development, as well as closing roughly .02 percent of livestock grazing.

If the right selection doesn’t occur, Gov. Mark Gordon could cancel the sale.

If all goes according to plan, however, the state board of land commissioners will also need to vote in favor of the sale.

“Over time, we have seen that land transfers between the state of Wyoming and the federal government have become more complicated,” said Jared Baecker, a conservation coordinator for the nonprofit Greater Yellowstone Coalition, which isn’t involved in raising funds for the sale.

He said the Grand Teton National Park Foundation, which is in charge of raising nearly $38 million for the deal, has an uphill battle before them.

“It's a huge goal that they are trying to achieve and their goal currently is uncertain,” Baecker said.

The BLM will likely decide about their management plan for Rock Springs by late July or early August.

Gov. Gordon will then need to make a determination about the BLM proposal before advancing it to the board.

This reporting was made possible by a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, supporting state government coverage in the state. Wyoming Public Media and Jackson Hole Community Radio are partnering to cover state issues both on air and online.

Chris Clements is a state government reporter and digital media specialist for Wyoming Public Media based in Laramie. He came to WPM from KSJD Radio in Cortez, Colorado, where he reported on Indigenous affairs, drought, and local politics in the Four Corners region. Before that, he graduated with a degree in English (Creative Writing) from Arizona State University. Chris's news stories have been featured on KUNC, NPR newscasts, and National Native News, among others.

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