Cheney accepts Rockefellers’ donation

MOOSE, Wyoming, AP

The Bush Administration on Saturday accepted the gift of an 1,106-acre (442-hectare) Rockefeller family ranch that sits within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park, with Vice President Dick Cheney calling it a “grand gesture.’

Philanthropist Laurance S. Rockefeller’s JY ranch will become a part of the park in five years.

“My father was inspired by this uniquely magnificent landscape three quarters of a century ago and adding the 1,100 acres of the JY to the park completes his vision, which I share,” Rockefeller said.

Cheney, wearing a cowboy hat and boots and accompanied by his family, and Interior Secretary Gale Norton represented the administration at the ceremony.

“If ever a man left his neighbors with a great gift, a grand gesture to be remembered forever, you have certainly done that today,” the vice president said during a ceremony at the ranch, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Jackson.

Rockefeller’s father, John D. Rockefeller Jr., helped devise and carry out a land-buying scheme that led to the park’s creation in 1929. The elder Rockefeller donated more than 32,000 acres (12,800 hectares)to the federal government. A strip of federal land connecting Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks is named for him.

The ranch, valued at US$30 million, is home to moose, mule deer, elk, coyotes and bears.

Plans developed by Laurance Rockefeller with the help of the National Park Service call for turning the property into an education center, with a trails system and interpretive complex to explain the history and ecology of the area.

The Rockefeller family will continue using the ranch, the first dude ranch in the Tetons, for three years, then spend two years helping the Park Service prepare it for public use.

The Park Service will assume ownership and operation in 2006.