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Published September 17, 2020
The first steps toward integration of University of Wyoming-owned property into a management plan for the Pilot Hill Project are underway, following action by the UW Board of Trustees.
The board voted today (Thursday) to give verbal permission to allow nonmotorized private and public access across a section of UW’s newly acquired property, subject to the policies and procedures of Pilot Hill Inc. That sets the stage for a written land access and use agreement between the university and the nonprofit organization that will manage 5,500 acres of publicly owned land east of Laramie.
UW owns 1,233 of those acres as a result of a $2.367 million acquisition last November that represented the first step toward the goals of the Pilot Hill Project. The 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.
“We are still working toward a written agreement, but the board’s action provides verbal permission to move forward with the plan to manage these lands as a single, integrated public recreational unit,” UW President Ed Seidel says. “The university is pleased to facilitate this exciting project, which will directly connect our campus and Laramie to wonderful recreation areas around Pilot Hill. I can’t wait to take advantage of it myself!”
The university’s parcels are located 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. The parcels acquired by the university surround a section of state school trust land; UW is pursuing a land exchange with the Office of State Lands to allow both entities to consolidate ownership patterns.
Late last month, the Wyoming Board of Land Commissioners closed on a land exchange for the remainder of the 5,500 acres, which will be leased by Albany County and managed collaboratively by Pilot Hill Inc.
The Pilot Hill Project calls for development of nonmotorized trails, which will build upon the public trail system already in place on UW-owned lands east of the university’s Jacoby 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.