The Bureau of Land Management is kicking off Great Outdoors Month by finalizing two land acquisitions in Colorado and Wyoming that will unlock more than 40,000 acres of previously inaccessible public land.
In partnership with The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit organization that supports the voluntary protection of public lands and waters, the Bureau of Land Management has completed two acquisitions through The Land and Water Conservation Fund: the 160-acre parcel of Escalante Creek in the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area in Colorado and 35,670 acres of private land southwest of Casper, Wyoming, which will open access to 40,000 acres of existing BLM and state land of Wyoming.
“BLM is working hard to provide additional access to previously inaccessible public lands by working with partner organizations such as The Conservation Fund and through the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. . “We are very grateful for these partnerships that allow us to conserve and expand access to public lands for many generations to come. »
Acquisition of the Marton property
The BLM Wyoming Acquisition is the largest land purchase BLM has undertaken in Wyoming, creating a contiguous 118 square mile block of public land and improving public access to the North Platte River.
The Conservation Fund worked closely with the Marton family to acquire the property and recently transferred it to the BLM for permanent protection with funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The initial Conservation Fund purchase was also supported by a grant from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Congress provided funding to acquire the ranch over several years, and BLM received $21 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 2021 to purchase the ranch in its entirety.
Located east of the Alcova Reservoir, the Marton Property is bordered to the north by 8.8 miles of frontage on the North Platte River and extends south into Carbon County. The acquisition of the property will connect previously inaccessible BLM and state lands and ensure the continued conservation of important wildlife habitats for greater sage grouse, raptors and big game species. The property’s proximity to Casper and ease of access reinforces the Department of the Interior’s commitment to ensuring equitable access to U.S. lands and waters.
“This acquisition marks a big step forward in improving public access,” said Kevin Christensen, district manager for BLM High Plains. “Through our enduring partnership with The Conservation Fund, we have a unique opportunity to conserve critical wildlife habitat across the landscape and expand access to the river and public lands for our local community and visitors. »
The inclusion of an additional 8.8-mile public access to the North Platte River, a blue trout fishery with more pounds per mile of fish than any other waterway in Wyoming, provides growth opportunities for the economics of tourism and recreation in Casper and Natrona County. . In 2021, travelers spent $285.1 million in Natrona County, generating $16.3 million in state and local taxes.
The acquired lands will initially be managed in the same manner as the adjacent lands managed by the BLM, with existing decisions in place that protect wildlife habitats and other resources while promoting recreation. The BLM will undertake a planning effort to develop area-specific management prescriptions that consider the objectives of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and input from tribes, partner agencies, and the public.
“Ensuring a conservation solution like this requires not only an exceptional landscape, but also exceptional citizens and public servants,” said Dan Schlager, Wyoming State Director at the Conservation Fund. “Thanks to the Marton family’s truly exceptional land stewardship and determination, and BLM’s unwavering commitment to problem-solving, this remarkable landscape will remain permanently preserved for the enjoyment of the entire Wyoming community. “
Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area
The Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area, located in the canyon country of the Uncompahgre Plateau in western Colorado, is part of the BLM’s National Conservation Land System. It is designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern, Wildlife Viewing Area, and Special Recreation Management Area. The transferred parcel includes approximately half a mile of Escalante Creek, which is home to three species of sensitive fish and is a popular whitewater kayaking destination. The creek is also a major tributary of the nearby Gunnison River. The land is used for recreational activities such as camping, fishing and kayaking and contains critical wildlife habitat for desert sheep and mule deer.
“This acquisition in Colorado enables BLM to continuously protect and improve the cultural, recreational and wildlife resources of Escalante Canyon for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations,” said Collin Ewing, area manager. Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. “We appreciate our ongoing partnerships with The Conservation Fund and the local community that allow us to improve equitable access to our public lands.”
The Conservation Fund has worked with the former owners of the 160-acre Escalante Creek property to find a permanent conservation solution for their lands that will secure public access, improve recreational opportunities and preserve ecosystem benefits for local communities.
“Increasing recreational access to the spectacular red rock canyons in the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area is a great addition to the public lands that belong to all of us,” said Kelly Ingebritson of the Conservation Fund’s Colorado office. “We appreciate the leadership of the BLM, the Colorado Congressional delegation, landowners and local supporters in protecting a strategic treasure on Escalante Creek and in the heart of the National Conservation Area.”
“We are proud to see this land protected for public access and future generations,” said Paul Felin, former landowner and representative of the family that owns the plot. “The Escalante Creek portion of the property is a wonderful recreation area that our family and friends have enjoyed visiting since the 1970s, which the public will now be able to experience in the future under BLM ownership.”
The Bureau of Land Management acquired a private 160-acre parcel of land along Escalante Creek southwest of Delta in the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area using money from the Land Conservation Fund and some water. The land now in public hands comprises about half a mile of the creek. The acquisition was made with the help of the non-profit Conservation Fund, which worked with the former owners of the property to find a permanent conservation solution for the land to secure public access, improve recreational opportunities and preserve ecosystem benefits, the BLM said in a news release.
A Conservation Fund fact sheet on the acquisition says it is made possible with $480,000 in federal fiscal year 2022 Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars. its income from federal offshore oil and gas leasing. It receives $900 million a year in permanent funding due to a bill passed by Congress in 2020. The Conservation Fund’s fact sheet says the acquisition is to permanently protect what was once property. private in national conservation area.
It is accessible by county road and is southwest and uphill from the Escalante Potholes recreation site. The acquisition will provide new access for camping, fishing and other recreation in a creek corridor also popular for whitewater boating during the spring runoff season. The property also provides important wildlife habitat for species such as mule deer and desert bighorn sheep, and its protection helps protect three sensitive fish species in the creek.