National Park Partners Commend Wyoming Governor Mead and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Agreement to Conserve State School Lands in Grand Teton National Park
JACKSON, WY – Grand Teton National Park Foundation (GTNPF) and National Park Foundation (NPF) praised today’s agreement between the State of Wyoming and the U.S. Department of the Interior to conserve state school lands and benefit Wyoming schoolchildren. In the agreement announced by Governor Mead and Secretary Jewell, the State of Wyoming will provide the National Park Service until December 31, 2016 to acquire the two remaining state school sections, known as the Antelope Flats Parcel and the Kelly Parcel.
To support the agreement, GTNPF and NPF have launched a $23 million private fundraising campaign to help NPS purchase the Antelope Flats tract. The National Park Service (NPS) is working to secure the other half of the purchase price, $23 million, from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“We are committed to work together to raise private funds to preserve the beauty, grandeur, and wildlife of Grand Teton National Park,” said Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “If we are successful, we can leave a lasting conservation legacy to the American people as we commemorate the centennial of the National Park Service.”
“To date, we have secured commitments of $5 million in private dollars, or just over 20 percent of our goal toward the acquisition of the Antelope Flats parcel. Interest in this project is high. We have donors who care deeply for Grand Teton and for Wyoming, and they want to be part of the solution that greatly benefits both the park and the state school system,” said Grand Teton National Park Foundation President Leslie Mattson.
"We greatly appreciate the efforts of Grand Teton National Park Foundation and the National Park Foundation. The generosity of private citizens continues the tradition of philanthropy initiated by John D. Rockefeller Jr. who acquired and donated over 33,000 acres of land to help create the park in 1950. Private contributions such as these are inspirational and help to create and maintain these special places for future generations," said Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela.
The Antelope Flats property consists of 640 acres in the heart of Grand Teton National Park and features outstanding scenic, recreational, and wildlife values. The land is part of a school trust for K-12 public education. The State of Wyoming has a constitutional obligation to earn income, making these inholdings subject to potential development.
In 2003, the late U.S. Senator Craig Thomas passed legislation that would authorize the NPS to acquire the lands by donation, purchase or exchange. If completed, today’s agreement would fulfill the goal of Senator Thomas’ legislation and provide Wyoming with much-needed funds for public education.
ABOUT GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
Grand Teton National Park Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to fund projects that protect and enhance Grand Teton National Park’s treasured resources. By funding initiatives that go beyond what the NPS could accomplish on its own, the Foundation initiates improvements, critical research, and projects that enhance visitors’ experiences, creating a solid future for Grand Teton. Since 1997, the organization has raised nearly $50 million for capital projects, work-and-learn programs that connect youth to nature, cultural preservation projects, and wildlife research and protection.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, a $350 million comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.