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The Pilot Hill Project

The objective for the Pilot Hill Project is to preserve ~5,500 acres of undeveloped open space east of Laramie in order to protect the Casper aquifer drinking water resource, conserve critical wildlife habitat areas, enhance educational and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, and promote economic development by providing a world-class natural amenity to attract and retain businesses and their employees.

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About the Pilot Hill Project Land Use Plan

The project team is currently working with SE Group, a planning firm, to develop a land use plan for Pilot Hill that will include recommendations and designs for a non-motorized trail system, parking and access, and habitat and aquifer protection. www.pilothill.org/plan is your resource to learn about and provide input on the land use plan.

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Pilot Hill Project map

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Why support the project?

The project will bring many benefits, including:

  1. Protection of a portion of the recharge zone to the Casper Aquifer, a primary drinking water source for a majority of Albany County residents
  2. Protection of the incredible views from Laramie east toward the Laramie Range
  3. Creation of new public access directly from Laramie to ~5,500 acres of foothills and the Medicine Bow National Forest
  4. Expansion of public recreation opportunities, which will enhance quality of life for Albany County residents
  5. Increase in tourism and economic development associated with improved access to open space and recreation
  6. Preservation of an area that offers crucial winter wildlife habitat

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Snow melt recharging the Casper Aquifer on Pilot Hill above Laramie, WY. Let's raise a toast to the community and in gratitude on earth day for clean/pure drinking water in Laradise. Thanks to Bern Hinckley for sharing this video. ...

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1 month ago

Pilot Hill Land Purchase

Happy Earth Day!

Here is some information from a series on the Easter Daisy. One of many plants/flowers which can be found on Pilot Hill, from project supporter Bonnie H:

Wyoming plants have a presence that is every bit as real as the first robins or Swainson’s hawks of the year. The only problem is - they don’t come into our view and soundscapes on their own. Instead, we need to show up on their turf. This article is one of many in getting to know “plant neighbors” close to home in Laramie.

Easter daisy burst out blooming at the outskirts of Laramie in the very first week of April this year, much to my relief. First-bloomers evoke special appreciation. Their audacity is also a reassurance of spring amid uncertain weather – have we REALLY seen the last snowstorm?!?

Less than ankle-high, Easter daisy is a stemless ground-hugger with bright, daisy-like flowers that seem to pop out of drab hillsides. Its silvery leaves start growth before the flowers, petite powerplants compared to the size of the bold flowers. There are 13 different Easter daisies in Wyoming, one or more in every county, and all are related to daisy – in the same family. Laramie harbors Townsendia hookeri, common across Wyoming’s southeastern plains and central basins.

Depending on who you ask, you might also hear it called
Hooker’s Townsend daisy, a double-daunting name with both parts of the name honoring two long-ago scientists. Common names are just that – colloquial names. A simpler mnemonic device is to remember it as Easter daisy, in the ranks of early-blooming plants at or around Easter season.

The stories of plants and people intertwine. John Kirk Townsend was a young energetic ornithologist on Wyeth’s 1832 cross-country expedition in the company of botanist Thomas Nuttall. Theirs was one of the first expeditions to cross present-day Wyoming. Upon return, Nuttall described this new genus of plants and named it in honor of his young colleague. Townsend is among the elite few scientists with
both birds and plants named after him.

Joseph Dalton Hooker was already a dignitary of the Royal Society of London when he came to the United States in 1877. He had viewed plant collections from around the world to
recognize that some plants inhabit more than one continent, and that different parts of the world have their own distinct
regional floras. He joined prominent scientists in studying plants of Colorado, aided by advent of railroads. In fact, he was the first to recognize that there is a distinct flora that he called a flora of the “Rocky Mountain Region.” Townsendia hookeri is one such Rocky Mountain plant among many others
named after him.

Townsendia hookeri kicks off a growing season parade of over 200 different native plants found at the east side of Laramie, a showy mob of plants filled with stories, and respite for people in isolation. Here is a link to finding other this and other Townsendia locations, at the Rocky Mountain Herbarium:
(rmh.uwyo.edu/data/search.php) search “Townsendia,” and Location=Laramie or else the name of your county.
...

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Photo credit: Robert Kirkwood