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Published November 20, 2019
The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees has acquired 1,233 acres adjacent to UW’s Jacoby Golf Course, setting in motion the potential preservation of about 5,500 acres of undeveloped open space east of Laramie.
The $2.367 million purchase of the lands -- at a cost of $1,919 per acre -- was approved Nov. 14 by the UW trustees. The acquisition complements the permanent footprint of the university and represents the first step toward the goals of the Pilot Hill Project. That project aims to directly connect the university campus and Laramie neighborhoods with almost nine square miles of open space in the foothills above the community for recreation while protecting the Casper Aquifer.
“The university is pleased to take this action that, in conjunction with the efforts of others, could help provide a world-class natural amenity for our community,” says Board of Trustees Chairman Dave True. “This purchase also aligns with the university’s interests by creating a consistent pattern of ownership of lands adjoining UW’s golf course property and providing a resource for the university’s future water needs.”
The university’s purchase consists of parcels on the northwestern edge of the Pilot Hill Project properties, which were identified for purchase in a 2017 agreement between the Albany County Commission and Warren Livestock Co. -- contingent upon raising $10.5 million, plus additional funding for future management. The university’s purchase achieves about one-fifth of the Pilot Hill Project’s financial and land preservation objectives.
“This is a clear statement of the university’s support for the Pilot Hill Project,” True says. “If the project moves forward as envisioned, we stand ready to continue working with other partners in the development of a plan to manage all of the Pilot Hill parcels as a single, integrated public recreational unit.”
The Pilot Hill Project team is working with the Office of State Lands and Investments to acquire the other Pilot Hill properties.
Owners of Warren Livestock remain committed to working with Albany County to complete the acquisition by the public of the upper section of the Pilot Hill properties, connecting the UW-acquired lands with the national forest.
The parcels acquired by the university surround a section of state school trust land. UW anticipates pursuing a land exchange with the Office of State Lands to allow both entities to consolidate ownership patterns.
The Pilot Hill Project calls for development of nonmotorized trails, which would build upon the public trail system already in place on UW-owned lands east of the golf course.
In addition to providing recreational opportunities and protecting the aquifer, the Pilot Hill Project aims to boost tourism and economic development; preserve crucial winter wildlife habitat; and protect the viewshed from Laramie east toward the Laramie Range.