Federal Agency Affirms Marton Ranch Acquisition

Bureau of Land Management includes over 350 public comments into supplemental analysis of $21 million purchase

  • Published In: Politics
  • Last Updated: Jun 27, 2023

The $21 million purchase of the 35,670-acre Marton Ranch southwest of Casper represents the largest acquisition of private lands by a public entity. Bureau of Land Management officials on Monday affirmed the decision to buy the ranch after finalizing additional environmental analysis that included extensive public comments. (Courtesy photo from the Bureau of Land Management)

By K.L. McQuaid

Special to the Wyoming Truth

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Monday affirmed its June 2022 acquisition of the Marton Ranch, the largest purchase of private lands by a public entity in Wyoming history.

The decision came after BLM’s Casper field office finalized a supplemental environmental analysis of potential impacts the purchase of the 35,670-acre ranch would have on fisheries, recreation and aquatic life.

As part of the supplemental analysis, BLM in April and May sought public input that resulted in 351 comments from state agencies and citizens. The submissions were considered and included in the final analysis.

At the time of the $21 million purchase last year, BLM officials said the ranch —  located about 25 miles southwest of Casper — wouldn’t have any significant impact on either tax revenue or local fisheries.

The agency also said the purchase would expand access to the North Platte River and result in 75,000 acres of contiguous public land to further tourism and conservation efforts.

But Gov. Mark Gordon’s office appealed the deal to the U.S. Department of the Interior, arguing the agency failed to seek required public input or notify the governor’s office of the land sale’s closing in advance as required.

The federal government agreed, and in October it reached a settlement with the state over the purchase that stipulated additional public input was required.

Gordon on Monday thanked BLM and the federal government for following the settlement procedures.

“I am encouraged to see the public interest in participating in the planning processes for the future of this incredible area,” Gordon said in a statement. “This land, like the people and businesses reliant on multiple-use and public access of public lands, has tremendous potential.”

But the governor also gently admonished the federal agency.

“Wyoming landowners have the right to make their own decisions about their property,” Gordon said in his statement. “However, the federal government has the responsibility to see the process is fair and transparent.”

Gordon added he is “confident that any future land exchanges involving the BLM will follow the proper process.”

Public input on Marton Ranch will once again be required when BLM begins future land use plans for the ranch, which could take up to a year.

In all, BLM manages over 245 million acres of public land, mostly in 12 Western states including Alaska.

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