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State officials: Auction Kelly parcel – with $80 million minimum

(Courtesy Wyoming Office of Lands Management and Investments)

By Billy Arnold
Jackson Hole Daily
Via- Wyoming News Exchange

JACKSON — The price tag should be a minimum of $80 million for the Kelly parcel, which the Office of State Lands and Investments is formally recommending Wyoming elected officials sell through an auction.

That is $18 million more than an appraiser determined the parcel was worth. But, if Gov. Mark Gordon, Auditor Kristi Racines, Treasurer Curt Meier, Secretary of State Chuck Gray and Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder agree with state staffers, $80 million would be the minimum bid for the parcel when it goes to auction.

Jason Crowder, deputy director of the Office of State Lands and Investments, said the recommendation is based on the office’s duty to focus on money. State trust lands like the 640-acre Kelly parcel are managed to raise money for Wyoming schools.

“What we as the office have to do is provide the board of land commissioners with a recommendation that follows their fiduciary responsibilities,” Crowder said. “We can’t be subject to the influences that are outside the scope of that mission.”

That said, all of the public comment the office has received has been provided to the Board of Land Commissioners — the governor and the state’s other top four elected officials — ahead of a Dec. 7 meeting to decide the Kelly parcel’s fate.

“They have the responsibility to pull the two together,” Crowder said. “We have to give them what we see as the greatest fiduciary benefit to the beneficiaries. But they get to take those public comments as well and maybe think a little bit broader.”

Rob Wallace, a retired Interior Department official who oversaw the National Park Service during the Trump administration, pointed out the near-total opposition at meetings.

“Based on my understanding, there has not been a single person that thought it was going to be a good idea to develop that land and not have it go to the national park,” Wallace said. “My hope is the elected leaders, whether it’s the state board or the Legislature, will hear the voices of the people and act appropriately.”

Crowder said the office is recommending $80 million as a minimum bid rather than $62 million because it would provide a greater return to the state of Wyoming in the long-term.

“It goes back to the fiduciary responsibility,” he said. “We did hear through those public comments and people providing information to us that the parcel could be valued at higher than the minimum value.”

Jennifer Scoggin, director of the Office of State Lands and Investments, is recommending an auction before Jan. 30, 2024.

The state laid out the price tag in a staff report ahead of this coming Thursday’s meeting, which is set to start at 8 a.m. in Cheyenne.

The meeting will likely run all day, and the proposed Kelly parcel auction is the last major item on the agenda. It follows weeks of public meetings, in which the vast majority of people who’ve spoken have opposed auctioning the parcel. That included meetings in Jackson, Casper, Cheyenne and Cody.

Instead, many people have argued for selling the parcel directly to Grand Teton National Park, which is interested in a sale, and borders the square-mile inholding on three sides. But that sort of sale would require approval from the Wyoming Legislature, which has shot down recent attempts to approve a sale with billion-plus-dollar price tags.

Three other state inholdings were sold to the park with legislative approval. Approval for the fourth continues to be evasive.

Wyomingites generally want to see the parcel preserved for its conservation value. It has unobstructed Teton views and is prime wildlife habitat. The Kelly parcel marks the end of the threatened Path of the Pronghorn, which pronghorn traverse every spring and fall between winter ranges near Pinedale and summer ranges in the park.

The pre-meeting public comment window closed Friday.

Let us know what you think!


  1. That will sale in seconds you forget billionaires live in Jackson hole not millionaires.

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