BLM Reaches Settlement With Wyoming on Casper Ranch Purchase
Governor Mark Gordon announced in a press release that Wyoming and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have reached a settlement on the BLM's effort to conserve the Marton Ranch in Natrona County.
In May, the BLM purchased the ranch after working with the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
In response, Wyoming filed an appeal challenging the BLM’s purchase of the 35,670-acre ranch and argued that the BLM didn't involve the public and didn't conduct a proper environmental review.
An order from the Department of the Interior's Office of Hearing and Appeals on Oct. 21 stated that the BLM is conducting an environmental review to address issues raised by Wyoming and to have a public comment period.
In a Statement of Reason that Wyoming filed in July, the state opposed the purchase because the BLM didn't consider the impact increased recreation would have on the land, it didn't consider the increase in invasive species in the river, and it didn't consult with state and local governments beforehand.
Tyson Finnicum, public affairs specialist with the BLM in the High Plains District, said that with the settlement agreement, they plan to work over the next few months to do a better environmental analysis of the area.
Finnicum said the purchase is part of a resource management plan for the Casper area that started back in 2008, and before the Marton ranch purchase included acquiring a 646-acre property in 2020 where the 1865 Battle of Red Buttes took place.
Kevin Christensen, the district manager for the BLM's High Plains District, said that they should have everything wrapped up by next spring or summer, but that the area has been available for public use since the purchase was completed in May.
Gordon said in the release:
"The decision of BLM to join in a settlement on the Marton Ranch purchase is very gratifying," Gordon said. "My concern has always been that the process was not followed. This gives BLM the opportunity to address that concern, and I am pleased they have agreed to complete a public comment period, do further environmental analysis, and consult with state agencies. This also offers an opportunity for additional discussions about the process, should the BLM pursue other acquisitions. I look forward to working with State BLM Director Archuleta on these vital issues and recognize that we are both committed to transparency of government."