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Mead Cautious About Land Trade

Governor Matt Mead

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in Jackson last week stressed the importance of completing the purchase of state sections of land within Grand Teton National park. However, she told reporters that the Interior Department doesn’t have money for a cash deal and that the BLM is on board for the proposal of a land exchange for the $91-million land sale of the two remaining parcels.  Exactly what might be offeredin exchange for the land has not been worked out.  That uncertainty concerns Governor Matt Mead.  He says conceptually, he believes it is appropriate that those lands be part of the national park, but he says he is not willing to part with them unless the state gets fair value.  At the same time, 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 can happen fairly quickly, but, to get the project “over the finish line” with appraisals and at a time of constrained budgets, it will take time. Mead says the state can work with that within reason. Mead told reporters, “I’m not interested in a deal ten years from now because I’m not going to be in office and the secretary’s not going to be in office [then], and so there’s an immediacy to it that’s still going to be required even it’s going to come by way of an exchange.”  Mead says he doesn’t know how long it’s going to take and he doesn’t know what here proposal will be, but if it is going to come in the form of an exchange he wants to set some tight parameters in terms of time. None-the-less, Mead says he is not going to say that if the deal has not been worked out by January, the state is going to put the land up for auction.

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