Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Grand Tetons, part 3: the history of Grand Teton National Park

The history in establishing the Grand Tetons national park is fairly fascinating and involves at least 1 legendary businessman… In 1917, the National Park Service tried to pass a bill expanding Yellowstone’s boundaries to include Jackson Hole. The bill passed in the House but was rejected by the Senate, who took the side of local ranchers who were worried that the expanded national park would reduce the grazing areas for the animals on their ranches. Multiple amendments/proposals later, the Grand Teton valley still remained a rancher’s area.

Then in 1924 and 1926, John D. Rockefeller visited the valley. While he was impressed with the valley, he was also alarmed at the commercial development and worried that the expansion might erode the nature. So in 1926, he started the Snake River Land Company which, using a local purchasing agent to keep prices low and ensure that people would sell, bought up approx. 35,000 acres of the most spectacular land in the valley. In 1929, he attempted to donate the land to the US gov. to be converted to a national park, however opposition from local ranchers delayed this from happening. His gift was finally accepted in 1943 by FDR, who took the gift and other land and used his presidential power to establish the Jackson Hole National Monument. This did not go over well, and much debate ensured. Finally in 1950, Harry Truman signed a bill which created the Grand Teton national park – a 350,000 acre area. Up until 2006, the Rockefeller’s still owned a private house/lake in the Grand Tetons. Many interesting books have been written on this, and it is mentioned in the biographies of all of the Rockefellers.

This goes to show what wealthy people can do when they are given the opportunity to donate their money as they see fit instead of being taxed more. :)

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