Keeping the multi-million dollar ‘Kelly Parcel’ wild
Conservationists in Teton County are coming out in droves to fight a proposal to auction off the land next to Grand Teton National Park.
Beverly Boynton zooms in on two birds soaring above the Kelly Parcel, which provides critical habitat to a slew of species. She is among many residents in Teton County — and across the state — who want to see the land permanently protected. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)
If you live in northwestern Wyoming, you’ve probably heard about the “Kelly Parcel.” The hundreds of acres of state land, with soaring views of the Tetons in a wildlife migration corridor, could go to public auction — sold off to the highest bidder, and possibly a developer who could turn it into a luxury home destination.
The Kelly Parcel boasts soaring views of the Teton range. The state-owned land is surrounded by Grand Teton National Park, the Gros Ventre Range and the National Elk Refuge. “You can see the Tetons from Mount Moran and all the way down to Glory Bowl,” says Beverly Boynton, who has lived in the neighboring town of Kelly for 25 years. She wants the land to stay wild and become part of the national park. She and other locals have protested the sale at rally and meeting about the land in Teton County.
A sign off Gros Ventre Road marks the boundary of the Kelly Parcel. People like Boynton go there to hike or ski. It’s also a popular spot for mountain biking and hunting. And the state makes money off the land to support public schools. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)
Boynton, a pioneering climber in the region, stands next to a patch of leafless aspens on the Kelly Parcel. “We’re standing on the path of the Pronghorn right now,” Boynton says. “This is part of the migration route, not only for pronghorn, but mule deer, elk.” (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)
Boynton walks through the sea of sagebrush covering the land. The National Park Service has attempted to work with the state for more than a decade to acquire the Kelly Parcel and make it part of Grand Teton National Park — with no success. The park has been able to secure other parcels, but not these 640 acres. So, state officials are proposing actioning it off. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)
A small dandelion sprouts up among various grasses. Boynton says, though it’s a slower time of year on the land, she still finds beauty in the little things. “To plunk a development in the middle of the vast public lands … that would be such a scar and such a wrong move,” she says. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)
Boynton shuts the gate, leaving the Kelly property. She says she’s not done advocating for the land. “I emailed about 50 friends to remind them that they need to comment,” Boynton says. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)
A sign outside the Kelly Parcel, off Gros Ventre Road, marks the neighboring national park land. The road leads to Slide Lake and Crystal Creek. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)
An executive board made up of top state officials will ultimately have the last word on the auction at a Dec. 7 meeting, and it may not have the votes to move forward with the plan. Three out of the five members, like Secretary of State Chuck Gray, say they have concerns.
Residents can send their thoughts on the future of the Kelly lot to Jason Crowder (email@example.com) with the Office of State Lands and Investments through Dec 1.
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About Hanna Merzbach
Hanna is KHOL's reporter and producer. She hails from Bend, Oregon, where she wrote about housing and the impacts of climate change. Her work has been published in the Atlantic, High Country News and Oregon Public Broadcasting. In her free time, you can find Hanna scaling rock walls or adventuring in the mountains. Follow Hanna on Twitter @HannaMerzbach.