How much does it cost to buy a mountain?
Maintaining access to public land is key for hunting, fishing and all types of recreation. This is why multiple organizations support the sale of 1,828 acres of land on top of Sheep Mountain in Wyoming to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). While the land is currently owned by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the organization says that they bought the land to keep it public.
“We were afraid somebody was going to buy it and then shut off all access, and we just thought that would be a loss to the community,” Katherine Thompson, TNC’s northwest Wyoming program director, told the Powell Tribune. TNC purchased the property with the intent to transfer it to BLM; however, they could never come up with an agreement that worked for both parties, resulting in a new plan: using federal funds to buy the land back.
The push for BLM to acquire the land has garnered support from countless organizations, including county commission, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Shoshone National Forest, National Park Service, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Wild Sheep Foundation, Wyoming Outdoor Council, Wyoming Wildlife Federation, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Shoshone Backcountry Horseman, Wyoming Audubon Society, Wyoming Native Plant Society, Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association, Cody Country Outfitters and Guides Association and Arthur Middleton, according to the Powell Tribune. Separate lobbyists have allegedly visited Interior Secretary Zinke to push the sale forward; Zinke has made it clear that he supports access for hunters and anglers.
To purchase the property, BLM may be able to use money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) since it recently designated Sheep Mountain as an “Area of Critical Environmental Concern” in its new land use plan, yet the Sheep Mountain proposal isn’t the only one after LWCF dollars, which means the sale is on hold until proposals are reviewed and approved. The acreage is worth a lot – between $1 and $2 million – and a proper appraisal will not be completed until the sale is established and expected to move forward. For now, the land lies in limbo.