At a bipartisan celebration today in Grand Teton National Park, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, serving the Obama administration, and Governor Matt Mead, a Republican, praised a deal to protect park land from commercial development.
Secretary Jewell praised the more than 5,000 private donors who contributed $23 million dollars in just eight months to allow the National Park Service to buy state land.
"So here I am, just a few days before my job ends, and I'm right back here because of the generosity of the people in this room and some that can't be in this room for stepping up to protect an incredible parcel that I got to stand on back in 2013," Jewell told donors, elected officials and park employees gathered at Dornan's restaurant in Grand Teton National Park.
"So I just want to congratulate all of you for the permanent protection of one-square-mile of one of the most amazing view sheds in the world," she said.
"You came together and said: 'Yeah there is a place for mega mansions and beautiful homes. There are a lot of them around here and some of you live in them, and we understand and respect that. But smack dab in the middle of Grand Teton National Park is not one of them.' And that's what you said with this acquisition of the Antelope Flats parcel. So you made sure that future generations of Americans from all backgrounds can gaze on these Tetons."
The federal government paid the other half of the $46 million-dollar price tag with $23 million from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which receives money from federal offshore oil and gas revenues. The money goes to the state to support schools.
Jewell said that there's one more square-mile-parcel of state land in the park near Kelly, Wyo., and she hopes this deal sends a signal to Wyoming that the federal government is serious about protecting that land too.