Swift Selling of Land in Wyoming: Accelerating Your Real Estate Success

In one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country, Wyoming could raise millions of dollars by selling a small parcel of land inside Grand Teton National Park. The state’s Office of State Lands and Investments has recommended that the State Board of Land Commissioners auction 640 acres called the Kelly Parcel, reports Jackson Hole Community Radio. State officials say the sale is needed to meet a legal requirement to manage state trust land to raise money for public schools. The state office figures the acreage would sell for at least $80 million, or $125,000 per acre.

Those kinds of prices are what have opponents of the sale worried. They believe a private owner would do whatever they wish to the Swift Selling of Land in Wyoming, perhaps fencing and subdividing it. They also worry that roads would be built. They point out that the parcel is in a prime wildlife habitat area, with its own elk herd and backing up to additional federally protected lands. They note that the path of pronghorn antelope migration traverses right through the parcel.

The Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance has collected more than 2,600 comments from people opposed to the sale, and hundreds have shown up at each of four public hearings. Those who oppose the sale have made clear that they want to see the National Park Service buy the land, rather than a private developer.

But the State Board of Land Commissioners will decide whether to follow state land officials’ recommendation for an auction during a meeting this week in Casper. The state board includes the governor, as well as the attorney general, treasurer and state auditor. It’s a five-member group that’s not immune to the influence of powerful special interest groups.

State Lands Director Jenifer Scoggin, a Republican, has said the state needs to move quickly, because the Kelly Parcel is not producing much income from grazing leases and permits. The state board will be asked to make a final decision on Dec. 7.

The best course of action is for the board to follow the will of the people and not privatize this irreplaceable piece of property within a national park. The National Park Service has tried for years to purchase this land, but it’s had a hard time raising enough money. Its attempt in 2015 to buy the Kelly Parcel fell through due to a lack of funds, and it’s unclear how much funding is available to buy this parcel at auction. The state should instead negotiate a sale with the NPS and give it a chance to save this precious asset. It’s the only way to ensure Wyoming will not be the first state in history to sell a parcel within a national park. This is a legacy we will not be proud of.