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Interior Secretary Jewell Reaffirms Committment to Land Sale

Sally Jewell

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell stressed the importance of completing the purchase of state sections of land within Grand Teton National park as she visited the parcel that is the next of four to be closed on.  Jewell told reporters that the environmental and aesthetic values of the property are too great to risk losing.  She told reporters to look at the development nearby and picture 35 of those homes between where she stood and the Tetons, and then another 35 to the south. She pointed out that the land is critical pronghorn migration corridor and sage grouse habitat – and said we need to ask if that is in the best interest of Wyoming, in the best interest of the American people, and in the best interest of the wildlife that call the park home.  Jewell told reporters that the BLM is on board for the proposal of a land exchange for the $91-million land sale of the two remaining parcels, but the specifics of what might be offered in exchange for the land has not been worked out.  Jewell says she has asked Governor Matt Mead for flexibility in the time required to finalize the deal.  She says to pull a task force together to address some of these issues and the specifics, “…we can do fast and we will do fast.”  However, to get the project “over the finish line” with appraisals and a time of constrained budgets, she says there is a commitment on the part of the park service to pay for what the BLM would have to do on the appraisals in order to accelerate it.  Still, she says it will take time. The third of the four step sale is due next January.  Jewell says when the House “zeroed-out” the Land and Conservation funding; it was very frustrating because this is the kind of transaction that would benefit from it.  “With zero funding there,” Jewell says, “we are going to have to get creative.”

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