Thursday, September 1, 2016

Proposed land swap comes under fire for restricting public access

From the Douglas Budget:
Proposed land swap comes under fire for restricting public access: A proposed land exchange between the Wyoming Board of Land Commissioners and   Bonander Ranches, LLC is set to pose a significant loss of public land access for Wyoming sportsmen and hunters, according to a growing number who oppose the swap.
Doggone, enough is enough! 

And I've had enough of the State Land Board's actions on these things. At least the last one around here appeared to be quite inequitable and by and large these things just don't work out of the state, in a way that we appreciate.

And here's why:
If acquired, Wyoming’s hunters and recreationists face losing access to more than 4,000 acres of public land located in Albany County, according to Jeff Muratore, Casper board member of the Wyoming Chapter of Back Country Hunters & Anglers (BHA).
So what would the state get?
According to the detailed analysis report posted on the Office of State Lands and Investments website, Rick Bonander, owner of Windy Peaks Ranch, has proposed to trade 295 acres of Moskee lands within the Black Hills Forest, located in Crook County, for 1,040.67 acres of land located in the Laramie Peak area of Albany County, more specifically within elk hunt area 7 south of Douglas.
295 acres for 1,040.67.  Of course.

Now, the Black Hills land is worth a lot more, I'm sure, than the Albany County land. Well, most of us do not care. We do not care one whit.  And here's the reason why:
Although the state is in the process of trying to consolidate land and the Black Hills land is good for mineral processes, valued at more than three times as much as the land around Laramie Peak, it is a  “lopsided trade” in Mutatore’s opinion because it is being evaluated on a scale of “value to value” rather than “acre to acre for elk hunting.”
He argued that the problem is the 295 acres of Bonander land does not offer access to the part of elk area #7 that will be affected, therefore, the only gain for the public will be having access to the 295 acres of Moskee land in Crook County.
“It’s not a quality exchange because (the Moskee land is) mainly home to white tail deer and wild turkey,” Muratore said. “Hunting and fishing are a big part of Wyoming, especially when it comes to tourism and recreation, which brings a lot of money into the state. The number one reason people don’t hunt or fish . . . is because of access to land.”
In other words, those of us who are average folks here, are a lot more agrarian than the State. We don't like these trades.
Assistant Director for the Office of State Lands and Investments Jason Crowder said Bonander had applied for several types of land transfers. This exchange was chosen because it met the trust plan management objectives, thus it could move forward with the analysis and appraisal of the proposed land trade. In order of importance, the objectives are revenue and value to the state; efficiency to manage the property; and effect on community need, as well as benefit to public recreation. 
The Office of State Lands and Investments is “pursuing” this exchange “mainly because it’s a benefit to the trust land objective” and  “because of the value potential of lands in the Moskee area to appreciate,” Crowder said.

This provides, I'd note, one good reason why the State should never be allowed to get its hands on the Federal domain.  We'd see the same thing all over. 

Now, I'm not saying that Rick Bonander, the land owner, is a bad guy.  Not at all.  Indeed, he's done some great things for Casper.

But I am saying that this should be opposed. And I'm about at the point where any proposed land swap coming out of the state ought to be opposed, quite frankly.  And its not too late to oppose this one.

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