Western Watersheds Project has learned that Brad Mead, the part owner and ranch manager for the Mead-Hanson ranches in Jackson and grandson of former U.S. Senator Cifford Hanson, released a letter on September 4, 2001 stating that this is the last year the Mead-Hanson Ranches will graze livestock in Grand Teton National Park.
The Mead-Hanson ranch operation, the largest remaining cattle grazing permittee in the Park, was continuing to graze in the Park under special federal legislation passed in 1997 (the Open Space and Grazing Study Bill) which continued grazing in the Park for the Mead-Hanson and Gill-Porter families even though under a 1950 compromise which enlarged the Park, their permits were to expire with the death of designated heirs. Those deaths in the two families occurred in 1995 and 1996.
On Sunday, September 2, 2001, the Casper Star-Tribune ran a front page article suggesting that Brad Mead may have triggered a clause in the 1997 legislation which would require the Park Service to retire the Mead-Hanson grazing permit if the family sold any "ranching or agricultural" lands. This year the family has sold or put up for sale three parcels amounting to about 110 acres, one of which is now on the market for resale for over $11,000,000 for 36 acres!
It appears to WWP that to avoid further embarrassment and public scrutiny of their financial dealings, the Mead-Hanson family has decided that ending grazing in the Park is preferable to additional media exposure which would undermine their claims that continued grazing in the Park was essential to prevent subdivision of their ranches.
WWP has been working on ending livestock grazing in Grand Teton National Park along with several Wyoming conservation groups including the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance.