Wyoming, a state renowned for its vast landscapes, pristine wilderness, and rich biodiversity, faces another critical threat – the proposed Columbus Peak Ranch Land Exchange. This controversial initiative, currently under consideration by the Office of State Lands and Investments (OSLI), jeopardizes the very essence of our public lands. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) is rallying the community to oppose this exchange, and here's why you should join the cause.
Outdated Appraisal Raises Concerns: One of the central issues with the proposed exchange is the reliance on an outdated appraisal from 2020. The Wyoming Chapter of BHA insists that a current and independent assessment is essential to accurately gauge the value of the two properties involved. Recent private appraisals indicate a substantial increase in the State's Trust Land value since 2020, bringing into question the fairness of the exchange under existing OSLI guidelines.
Threat to Recreational Access: A deep concern is the potential shift in land use following the exchange, with suspicions that private land on Dayton East Road might be earmarked for real estate development. If this were to transpire, the public could lose access to not only the existing 560 acres of State Trust Land but also the proposed 628 acres, resulting in a potential loss of 1,188 acres of recreational access. This not only impacts local hunters and anglers but also disrupts the broader community, robbing them of valuable outdoor spaces.
Historical Loss of State Trust Land in Sheridan County: Sheridan County has already suffered substantial losses of State Trust Land since 1890, with sales and exchanges surpassing those of any other county in Wyoming. The proposed Columbus Peak Ranch Land Exchange threatens to add to this unfortunate trend, diminishing the available public lands for future generations.
Ecological Impact on Diverse Wildlife: The State Trust Land in question is a haven for diverse wildlife, including mule deer, white-tail deer, antelope, elk, geese, ducks, smallmouth bass, sharp-tailed grouse, sand cranes, and numerous non-game animal and plant species. Rainbow trout and bass have been planted in the area, with reports of impressive trout growth. The exchange could disrupt these ecosystems, endangering the habitats and migration routes vital to Wyoming's wildlife.
Discrepancies in the Detailed Analysis: The Detailed Analysis, a crucial document for assessing the exchange, has come under scrutiny for errors and omissions. Misrepresentations of the State Trust Land's location, discrepancies in acreage, and other inaccuracies have fueled confusion and frustration among the concerned public. Clarity and transparency are paramount in decisions that impact our public lands.
Taking Action: Your voice matters in this fight to preserve Wyoming's natural heritage. Attend the public hearing on November 13, 2023, at Sheridan College, and make your opposition heard. Additionally, send an email or letter to Jason Crowder, Deputy Director of OSLI at [email protected] or 122 W. 25th Street, Herschler Building, Suite W103, Cheyenne, WY 82002 expressing your concerns and demanding a fair and updated appraisal.
Let's unite to safeguard Wyoming's public lands for today and generations to come. Together, we can ensure that the Columbus Peak Ranch Land Exchange does not compromise the unique beauty and ecological richness that define our great state.
Join us today in supporting the opposition efforts and stand up for Wyoming's public lands today.