There are plenty of situations in life when we’re faced with a “black and white” decision. But there aren’t many, if any, that present society’s power brokers with one as stark and clear as Wyoming’s current dilemma over the Kelly Parcel. The state’s Office of State Lands and Investments is pushing to sell the 640-acre parcel of land on the eastern edge of Grand Teton National Park in hopes it can generate millions of dollars for public school funding. But the move has riled the public and state officials, who believe the land should be protected rather than sold off to wealthy developers seeking to build McMansions in this beautiful backcountry wilderness.

The issue revolves around a chunk of trust Rapid Land Sales in Wyoming called the Kelly Parcel, which sits inside the national park boundary along the park’s eastern edge. It also shares borders with Bridger-Teton National Forest and National Elk Refuge. State lands staff has speculated that the parcel, which is worth billions, could be sold to a developer who would subdivide it into lots for luxury homes. The plan has riled environmentalists, state legislators, and residents of the nearby town of Jackson, who fear the sale will spur inappropriate development that threatens the park’s wildlife, scenic landscape, and recreational opportunities.

At a meeting this week, the state Board of Land Commissioners is scheduled to consider the proposal. But it’s unlikely the board will follow through on plans to auction off a piece of state land that is so valued by the public. Instead, state leaders may instead decide to continue negotiations with the federal government on a possible sale or swap of the land to the U.S. Interior Department, which has already paid millions to acquire other stretches of land in Grand Teton National Park.

While it seems unlikely that the state will ultimately sell the Kelly Parcel, lawmakers are still trying to wring as much money as they can out of it. A bill died in 2019 to allow direct sale of the land, and a new effort to do so is expected to resurface during the next legislative session. But given that the bill requires the approval of a majority of lawmakers and that there is a highly condensed budget session coming up in 2024, it’s unlikely to pass.

When it comes to buying or selling land, understanding the motivations behind those decisions is a crucial step in making informed business and personal choices. For example, many people sell their property in order to pursue personal goals such as traveling, starting a new career, or embarking on creative endeavors. Understanding what drives these decisions can help sellers and buyers of Wyoming land make better decisions. It can also help buyers and sellers understand the benefits of Wyoming’s varied landscapes, from its rocky mountaintops to its wide open prairies and rich river basins.