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Interior Secretary to visit Grand Teton park

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Jewell to reiterate commitment to protect inholdings, announce Inspiring Journeys Campaign

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, Aug. 7, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will visit Grand Teton National Park to reinforce the department’s commitment to find a permanent solution to protect the park’s world-class assets. Jewell will also participate in Thursday’s launch of Inspiring Journeys, a public-private campaign to restore and protect Jenny Lake trails.

Under an agreement reached two years ago, the Department of the Interior and the State of Wyoming are exploring ways to transfer the remaining 1,280 acres of state school trust land within the Grand Teton National Park boundaries to the park to ensure permanent protection of the parcels.

“I have directed my team to pursue all available options and have asked the leadership of the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service to give me a set of recommendations and a plan of action of how we can ensure the long-term protection of Grand Teton,” Jewell said. “Given the fiscal climate and constrained federal resources, creativity and flexibility will be required, but I am absolutely committed to see this cross the finish line.”

Jewell spoke with Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead on Aug. 5 to reiterate the department’s commitment to work with the state on a feasible strategy to ensure the long-term protection of Grand Teton.

“I asked Gov. Mead to work with me in this effort to ensure that all of our collective objectives are met,” said Jewell.

Approximately $16 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was previously used to purchase 86 acres of school trust land — the second of four parcels in the agreement.

The U.S. House of Representatives has proposed zeroing out the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which would typically be the traditional and fastest way to acquire parcels like those that remain within the park boundary.

The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget proposes mandatory full funding for the LWCF, including a phased-in approach to achieve full funding for the LWCF program by 2015, providing $900 million for grants, land acquisition and other conservation programs.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund has played a critical role in connecting people to the great outdoors for five decades,” Jewell said. “The State of Wyoming has been the beneficiary of over $44 million dollars in LWCF funding since 2002. These projects are sound investments; whether it is a conservation easement, a state recreation grant or a wildlife grant, LWCF funds create jobs, keep working farmers and ranchers on the land and stimulate local economies.”

Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 1965 to meet the nation’s growing need for access to close-to-home outdoor recreation. The money for the fund comes not from taxes, but primarily from oil and gas lease revenues derived from federal lands. This helps balance the environmental impacts associated with resource extraction by ensuring that new parks and open spaces are accessible to all Americans.

According to a new report released last week by the Department of the Interior, public lands in Wyoming attracted more than 10 million visitors in FY 2012, with recreational activities on public lands contributing more than $1 billion in economic output, supporting more than 13,200 jobs. Grand Teton National Park welcomed 3.9 million visitors last year who generated $436 million in economic output and supported more than 6,397 jobs.

On Thursday, Aug. 8, Jewell will join Grand Teton National Park Supt. Mary Gibson Scott and Grand Teton National Park Foundation President Leslie Mattson to announce the Inspiring Journeys Campaign, a $16 million public-private partnership to improve the visitor experience at Jenny Lake. Jewell will also provide keynote remarks at the annual Murie Center Spirit of Conservation Awards Dinner.

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