By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Bureau of Land Management this week announced a purchase of more than 35,000 acres of land south of Casper, which will provide “endless” recreational opportunities for Wyoming residents and visitors alike, a bureau spokesman told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.
The nonprofit Conservation Fund funded the purchase of the 35,670-acre Marton family ranch, which stretches through Natrona and Carbon counties, bureau spokesman Tyson Finnicum told Cowboy State Daily.
“This acquisition is part of an ongoing, strategic effort by the BLM to enhance public access to the North Platte River and surrounding areas,’ Finnicum said. “As an agency, the BLM is committed to increasing opportunities for recreation and expanding access to public lands and waters.”
The private land is located around 25 miles southwest of Casper, just east of the Alcova Reservoir and stretches from the North Platte River south into Carbon County.
With this purchase, the public will now be able to access 30,000 acres of existing BLM-managed lands and 10,000 acres of state-managed lands that were formerly inaccessible due to being privately owned.
Now there is a 75,000 acre contiguous block of public land, allowing outdoor recreationalists to take full advantage of Wyoming’s beauty, Finnicum said.
“Putting a 75,000-acre intact chunk of public land on the map and eight miles of additional access to the North Platte River is a huge win for the American public,” he said. “Not only for the endless recreation opportunities it provides for residents and visitors but for economic and conservation benefits as well.”
He added the land acquisition would add to the “menu” of things to do in Natrona County and provide more opportunities for the tourism and recreation industry statewide.
Plus, the land supports habitats for multiple big game species, the greater sage-grouse and eagles, so the purchase will allow BLM to continue to manage the property as a landscape, not unlike how the Marton family did previously.
Finnicum said the money to purchase the land came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which gave a $21 million appropriation last year to purchase the Marton ranch in its entirety.
He added that the LWCF is largely funded by offshore oil and gas revenue.
“Money from the LWCF goes to a variety of programs to support recreation and conservation, from building city parks, to protecting historic and cultural sites, to providing public access to rivers and lakes,” Finnicum said.