Look What Uncle Sam Bought For You
The United States Forest Service has just spent $6.57 million taxpayer dollars to buy
development rights on 105 acres along U.S. Highway 26-287 near Teton Pass, Wyoming.
“That viewshed is just awesome,” exclaimed Kniffy Hamilton, Forest Supervisor for the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Government officials seem to think $62,590 per acre is quite a bargain, well below the appraised value of the land, they claim.
Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY) secured $.3.5 million to help purchase the easement in 2001 and came up with another $2.8 million earlier this year allowing the Service to buy the easement without having to share it with the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance.
The property will remain privately owned and the public will not be allowed access, even though it was purchased with taxpayers’ money.
“I think the public gains a lot of value in having the easement there because it won’t be developed,” rationalized Hamilton.
It is not clear just what “value” the public will gain from land they can’t use and which can’t be developed.
Senator Thomas’s staff did not respond to requests for additional information about the funding for the easement purchase.
Forest Service Buys Easement
JACKSON - The Bridger-Teton National Forest has paid $6.57 million to ranchers to prevent development in Buffalo Valley.
Forest Supervisor Kniffy Hamilton said preventing development in the area near Teton Pass is a top priority for the forest.
The easement covers 105 acres along U.S. 26-287. Forest officials say, at $62,590 per acre, the price of the easement is below the appraised value of the land itself.
Although purchased with public funds, the easement will remain privately owned and closed to public access.
Funding for the easement included $3.5 million Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., helped secure in 2001.
At the time, the Forest Service planned to team up with the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance to buy the conservation easement.
But that would have required splitting up the easement.
Thomas helped secure another $2.8 million for the easement earlier this year.
Ellison said the Land Trust agreed to drop its option to buy the easement and allow the Forest Service to buy it.
Other funds came from the state Department of Transportation's scenic byways program.
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