Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell signed a deal this week to protect land inside Grand Teton National Park from commercial development.
Under the agreement, Wyoming would sell 640 acres to the National Park Service in exchange for a payment of $46 million from the federal government. That money would support education in Wyoming.
Similar agreements have failed in the past but Governor Mead, speaking at a gathering of western governors, is optimistic this one will succeed. He added that it's a critical area worthy of protection.
"It's at the base of the Tetons, and it's that iconic view that's so much appreciated by us, and you know relied upon by wildlife as well. And so the goal is there. The state, we need to sell it for its appraised price, and it's an expensive price tag. But I think Secretary Jewell has worked very diligently to try to get this done and of course being the hundred-year anniversary of our national park system, it would be a great year to get this accomplished."
Secretary Jewell said the land acquisition is her department’s highest priority for the Park Service and they're working with Congress to get the money approved.
Governor Mead said the agreement still needs approval from the Wyoming Board of Land Commissioners.