By Mark Heinz, Outdoors Reporter
Wyomingites should get their say in the spring about the future of nearly 37,000 acres of new public land on the Marton Ranch property near Casper. In the meantime, the public has had access to the area’s prized trout fishing, which runs along a stretch of the North Platte River.
The $21 million sale of the ranch property to the Bureau of Land Management was finalized in May, and the land has been open to the public since, Tyson Finnicum, the agency’s High Plains District spokesman, told Cowboy State Daily.
However, in answer to concerns voiced by Gov. Mark Gordon’s office, the BLM will revisit its land use plan for the area, and that will include public comment, he said. It’s hoped that can happen sometime in the spring, although no exact date has been set.
“Those public comment periods are open for at least 30 days, but can definitely be extended,” he said.
Potential Impacts For Wyoming
The governor’s office expressed concerns about how the area’s land use plan could affect tax revenue, school funding, grazing and mineral development, said Finnicum and Brad Purdy, spokesman for the BLM’s Wyoming state office.
The Marton family still has grazing permits on the land, and cattle grazing will continue there, Purdy said.
The BLM in the coming months will review its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review of the property, he said.
That will allow time for the BLM to “address the state’s concerns, specifically to the fishery and the impacts of increased recreation,” Michael Pearlman, spokesman for Gordon’s office, told Cowboy State Daily.
In addition to great fishing along the river, the Marton Ranch property offers opportunities for waterfowl and big game hunting, hiking and other activities, Finnicum said.
There are antelope in the area, as well whitetail deer, mule deer and occasionally elk, he said.
Public comments could help determine whether to build amenities such as public restrooms, picnic areas and camping grounds, he said. People also can voice their opinions about whether and to what extend roads and trails should be developed. Or, which existing roads should be closed.
Motorized traffic is allowed only on already-established ranch roads, he said. Hiking and horseback riding are allowed elsewhere.
Purdy said it’s inaccurate to say the BLM owns the property.
“It was purchased for the public,” he said. “The BLM is simply charged with managing it on the behalf of the American people.”