Draft Concept Workshops Featured in Laramie Boomerang
February 3, 2020:
A Laramie Boomerang front-page article describes the draft concept plan presented at the public workshops in January. The article provides an overview of the concept presented and updates on the project and land exchange. Click here to read the article and click here to view the concept presentation, explore the concept on an interactive map, and take a survey to provide feedback.
Draft Concept Workshops Op-Ed
January 24, 2020:
The Pilot Hill Project Oversite Committee Op-Ed has been featured in the Laramie Boomerang. The op-ed provides background on the process and encourages the community to come out and provide their feedback on the Draft Land Use Plan Concept. To see the Laramie Boomerang article, click here. For more information about the Draft Concept Workshops, see below.
Draft Concept Workshops
We need your input on the draft concept plan for the Pilot Hill open space park!
The Pilot Hill Committee invites you to join us at two community workshops to review and provide feedback on the draft Pilot Hill land use concept plan. This first draft will show potential trail types, trail locations, management boundaries, and other considerations.
After listening to your vision and ideas, exploring the property, and meeting with key stakeholders, the planning team now needs to hear your feedback. How many miles of trails are appropriate? What amenities are you looking for at access points? What do you think about the proposed trail types and locations? The draft concept plan will serve as a starting point for discussions at these workshops and will then be modified based on your feedback.
The workshops will include a project update, explanation of the concept and small group discussions for you to share your thoughts. Join us on Tuesday January 28th and Wednesday January 29th from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the Lincoln Community Center, 365 W. Grand Ave.
We look forward to hearing from you!
The Pilot Hill Project Committee and SE Group
PS: If you are unable to join us in person you can provide feedback after the workshops by visiting www.pilothill.org/plan. The presentation will be available along with options for providing feedback in the online comment form.
UW Announces Purchase of Pilot Hill Acreage
November 20, 2019:
Laramie — The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees announced Wednesday it approved the acquisition of 1,233 acres of the Pilot Hill Project parcel.
The purchase, for a total of $2.367 million, was approved by the trustees Nov. 14 and finalized on Nov 20. The UW purchase includes the property located at the northwestern corner of the Pilot Hill parcel, an area adjacent to UW’s Jacoby Golf Course and surrounding a section of state school trust land. The UW purchase consists of about 20 percent of the total Pilot Hill acreage.
Pilot Hill Project committee chair Chris Rothfuss said the announcement signals a shared vision for the future success of the project.
“We are thrilled with the announcement of this important milestone and want to thank the UW Trustees for their partnership in the Pilot Hill Project,” Rothfuss said. “This purchase is an important step as we finalize the proposed State Land Exchange packet. It demonstrates that both UW and the landowners are committed to the success and long-term vision for this project.”
The Pilot Hill Project is a community-wide effort to purchase about 5,500 acres of undeveloped land east of Laramie for public access and aquifer protection. The Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments is considering a land swap to acquire the remaining acreage, and nearly two-thirds of the $1.5M needed for infrastructure development has been raised through fundraising efforts.
Once complete, the parcel will connect the eastern edge of Laramie and the University of Wyoming with the Pole Mountain Unit of the Medicine Bow National Forest, allowing for nonmotorized recreational access to thousands of acres of public land adjacent to Laramie. The parcel sits atop the Casper Aquifer recharge zone, an important water source for Laramie, and provides critical winter habitat for wildlife in the Laramie foothills.
Pilot Hill committee member Marilyn Kite said the announcement demonstrates the importance of the Pilot Hill Project for the future of Laramie and UW.
“We are so pleased and grateful that the UW Board of Trustees chose to invest in Pilot Hill, a project that’s truly a game-changer for Laramie, southeast Wyoming and UW,” Kite said. “It will enhance the university’s student and faculty recruitment efforts, provide research and educational opportunities for faculty and students in our own backyard, as well as serve as a model for communities to create partnerships that improve Wyoming’s quality of life in so many ways.”
In July, the Albany County commissioners hired the planning firm SE Group to develop a land-use plan for the parcel. Future development of non-motorized trails will create a system connecting to existing trails on UW-owned property next to the golf course, on the state section and in the national forest. Commissioner Jones joined in thanking the UW Trustees adding “It is great to see that the original offer from the seller to both UW and the County has resulted in this important collaboration.”
Click here for the Laramie Boomerang coverage of the purchase.
Click here for the university’s press release.
Casper Star Tribune profiles Pilot Hill Project
November 2, 2019:
The Casper Star Tribune profiled the Pilot Hill Project, informing Casper area residents about the project. The article provides a project overview and update and describes the benefits of the project. The article covers the state land exchange, economic development opportunities, the important wildlife habitat and aquifer, and the money needed to finance the project going forward. For the full story, click here.
Pilot Hill Education Committee
October 26, 2019:
The Albany County School District No. 1 has formed a committee to discuss and plan for future educational use of Pilot Hill. Teachers and other community members will be discussing the programmatic and infrastructure needs around using Pilot Hill as an outdoor classroom. Many area teachers feel that the property has limitless potential for teaching students about the natural world, creating a sense of place, and offering athletic opportunities. To see the Laramie Boomerang article, click here.
Laramie City Council Discusses Pilot Hill Project
October 22, 2019:
On October 22nd, the Pilot Hill Project team presented the project progress to City Council. Council and the project team discussed the state land exchange, SE Group’s role, access sites, infrastructure and enforcement needs, capturing economic benefits, and how the City can support the project. For the full Laramie Boomerang story, click here.
History of the Pilot Hill property
September 7, 2019:
The Laramie Boomerang chronicled the history of the Richardson family homestead that once encompassed 20,000 acres around Laramie, including the Pilot Hill property. The article traces the family and property history from the late 19th century to today. Descendants of the Richardson family live in Laramie today and have fond memories of exploring the property, seeing wildlife, hiking, and fishing. To learn more about the Richardson family homestead, see the Boomerang article.
Community Access Days
September 7, 2019:
Two Pilot Hill Community Access Days will be held on the first Saturdays of September and October. The public will be able to access the 5,500-acre parcel from multiple access points and participate in guided runs, hikes, horseback rides, and bike rides. The event headquarters will be at the top of Jacoby Ridge on Willett Drive just east of the golf course. See www.pilothill.org/community days for the complete schedule. See the article in the Laramie Boomerang for more information about the events and the project.
Planning firm hired to complete Pilot Hill Land-Use Plan
July 26, 2019:
Albany County commissioners have signed a contract with SE Group to develop a plan for the Pilot Hill property. The plan will include trail concepts, management objectives, and other design elements. SE Group has proposed a robust public engagement process and the plan is scheduled to be completed by July 2020. For more information about SE Group’s selection and scope of work, see the article in the Laramie Boomerang.
Pilot Hill Contract Deadline Extended!
March 7, 2019:
Albany County has secured a second extension of the deadline to purchase the ~5,500-acre Pilot Hill parcel thanks to ongoing progress of a proposed state land exchange. This extension accommodates the exchange timeline and extensive review process – and is a sign of confidence by Warren Livestock and the County that the exchange will occur in 2019. For more details, read the full press release >
Looking Ahead to 2019:
As part of the contract extension, Warren Livestock has offered several opportunities over the coming months to open the property for community members to tour the Pilot Hill parcel and help plan the future park. The Pilot Hill Days will give everyone who comes out a chance to experience the topography and learn more about the aquifer recharge process, wildlife habitat needs and historic preservation opportunities. It will also provide great opportunities for the Pilot Hill committees to gather feedback on recreation trail systems, access sites and other potential park amenities. Details to be announced soon!
Behind the Scenes:
Sorry for the radio silence over the past month! We’ve been busy behind the scenes moving our data into new software. We have a prize for anyone who helps us catch any errors in our updated donor recognition list! If you spot something that needs to be fixed, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your name, snail-mail address and phone number and we’ll send you a token of our thanks!
Happy New Year! THANKS to all of you who have helped move the Pilot Hill Project forward!
Milestones from 2018:
- Acknowledging tremendous community support, the one-year Pilot Hill sale/purchase agreement was granted a 6-month extension.
- The Wyoming Community Foundation joined as one of the many project partners ensuring all donations qualify as a charitable contribution for tax purposes.
- The proposal for a State Lands Exchange to help with the purchase is looking bright! You will soon see a link to the detailed report of the proposal and ways to provide comments.
Looking Ahead to 2019:
- The results of the Community Survey, State Archeologist Inventory, sensitive aquifer recharge areas and wildlife habitat data will inform the Land Management Committee’s work to plan access sites, trail systems and park management.
- Pledges and donations will be invested in the purchase, initial infrastructure and park management, and leveraged to secure additional donations, grants and investments.
- Volunteers will be invited to “lend a hand” on Pilot Hill and on planning a community celebration in the coming year!
Christmas parade a success!
December 7: Thanks to all you elves who made it out to the Laramie Christmas Parade tonight! Our float was an Airstream trailer decorated with seasonal cheer, and a reminder to “get your elf off the shelf and play outside!” It’s part of what makes winter a great time of year in Albany County.
Great news! The Pilot Hill purchase agreement has been extended.
October 10: The Albany County Commission and the Pilot Hill property owners agreed to amend the contract, moving the closing date to March 2019. The outpouring of support and interest from the Laramie community was a critical factor in securing the contract extension. “We want to thank everyone who has donated or pledged their support for the project,” said Sen. Chris Rothfuss, chairman of the Pilot Hill Project Oversite Committee. “The community’s involvement over the last year has been tremendous, and its ongoing support will be key to the success of the Pilot Hill Project moving forward.”
Attention all Pilot Hill Pint Glass Collectors:
October 10: LIMITED EDITION series 3 glasses will be available for purchase at the Telluride MountainFilm on Tour Festival at the Gryphon Theatre this Thursday, Oct 11 and Friday Oct 12. Hosted by our friends at the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, this free event features a selection of inspiring documentary films from “One of the Top 25 Best Festivals” of 2018. Pilot Hill Pint Glasses will be available for purchase with 50% of the purchase price benefitting the project. Beverages will also be available for purchase by local vendors. Learn more >
Join us in Raising a Toast to Coal Creek TAP and Coal Creek Coffee
October 10: The Pints & Pretzels fundraiser and auction was a great success and has helped secured another acre of the Pilot Hill parcels. Please stop by and thank John and Jodi Guerin at Coal Creek, and the following auction donors for their tremendous support.
NU2U Street Dance raises two acres!
September 21: We are raising a toast and sending our thanks to the great team at NU2U for donating the proceeds of the 2018 NU2U Street Dance and Costume Party to the Pilot Hill Project! An additional two acres of the Pilot Hill property have been supported through their generosity.
September 21: Several UW Faculty Senate members are starting out the school year with an invitation to UW employees to send a message of collective support for the Pilot Hill project by challenging every department, unit and division to collectively support an acre or more. The goal is to gather pledges for over 50 acres. This collaborative effort encourages colleagues to work together and is intended to generate some good-natured competition between departments and units to see who can support the most acres. Check out the Cowboys Need More Open Space page on our website to watch the UW challenge unfold – and if you work at UW – join in the fun by inviting your colleagues to get involved! Need a pledge form? Download it here.
Trihydro Corporation and Employees Pledge Significant Support for Pilot Hill Project
August 29, 2018: Trihydro Corporation recently announced a significant combined corporate and employee pledge in support of the Pilot Hill Project, an effort to purchase 5,500 acres of private land adjacent to Laramie.
The support includes an outright cash gift, in-kind engineering services and dollar-for-dollar matching funds to support employee contributions, which have surpassed $25,000.
“Trihydro is passionate about supporting each community in which we have the privilege to live and work,” said Trihydro President and CEO Jack Bedessem. “As a Laramie-founded firm, Trihydro has a personal connection to the Pilot Hill Project. The commitments of both Trihydro and our employees demonstrate our belief in the significance of this community project. We also appreciate the efforts by many to advance the Pilot Hill Project and look forward to sharing in the benefits that its completion will offer to our community.”
Sen. Chris Rothfuss, chairman of the Pilot Hill Project Oversite Committee, thanked Trihydro for its support.
“We are grateful to Trihydro for this tremendous leadership gift, and for the collaborative manner in which they are supporting the Pilot Hill Project,” Rothfuss said. “The company’s culture and dedication to fostering a healthy, positive work and living environment for their employees and their families is evident in this unique donation.”
With headquarters in Laramie, Trihydro has more than 400 employees at 21 offices around the country. The company provides engineering and environmental consulting services, with a commitment to employees, clients, social responsibility, sustainability and community.
To initiate the Pilot Hill Project, the Albany County Commission signed a purchase agreement last fall approving the purchase of the nearly 5,500 acres of private land east of Laramie, with the price set at $10.5 million following an appraisal earlier this year.
The parcel stretches from the eastern edge of Laramie to the Pole Mountain Unit of the Medicine Bow National Forest, and from near Pilot Hill south to Interstate 80. All the Pilot Hill property overlies the Casper Aquifer recharge zone, which is a major source of Laramie’s drinking water.
The Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments is currently researching a potential land swap to help acquire some or all the acreage in exchange for landlocked parcels elsewhere in the county. Meanwhile, the Pilot Hill Project committee has been collecting pledges and donations to support the purchase. In addition to the purchase price, an estimated $4.5 million will be needed to build and maintain infrastructure to allow public access, such as parking lots and trails.
A pledge agreement is available online at PilotHill.org/make-a-pledge. A public survey is also available at the Pilot Hill website. Results will be used by the committee to guide future management of the parcel.
NU2U Street Dance & Costume Party on September 7
August 20, 2018: NU2U will be generously designating PHP as the beneficiary of their 7th annual costume party and street dance! Join in on the fun, purchase a newly-designed Pilot Hill Project pint-glass full of your favorite malt beverage, wear a costume, and enjoy live music. September 7th at 5pm in downtown Laramie.
Digital Blues Hits the Acre Mark on In-kind Contributions to the Pilot Hill Project
August 20, 2018: We’d like to give a huge shout out to Digital Blues Print Shop for being a critical in-kind partner to the Pilot Hill Project. Digital Blues has donated over an acre’s worth of support by being our on-call printer for posters, signs, brochures and pledge agreements for the Pilot Hill Project. Please consider stopping in and saying hi and thank you to Kevin and Brett, who have been such great partners for us. Digital Blues Print Shop is located at 214 Grand Avenue.
Many, many thanks to our volunteers!
August 20, 2018: Have you seen us at a Farmer’s Market or tabling an event this summer? We couldn’t do it without our volunteers. Thanks much to all… you know who you are! If you haven’t, and you want more information or have questions, visit us at one of the upcoming Friday Farmer’s Markets in downtown Laramie.
The Office of the Wyoming State Archaeologist completed the cultural resources pedestrian survey on the Pilot Hill property May 14 – June 8, 2018.
July 30, 2018: “We identified over 200 archaeological sites and isolated resources that date from at least the Early Archaic period through later historic sites associated with travel and ranching/sheep herding,” said Assistant State Archeologist Marcia Peterson. “The prehistoric sites range from small surface scatters of lithic debris to fairly substantial caves and rock-shelters.”
The Office is currently recording all of the identified sites and isolates, and anticipates finishing this process before the snow flies.
Pilot Hill Project survey
July 30, 2018: To date, 247 community members have participated in the Pilot Hill Project Survey. The results will guide the PHP Committees as we plan for the management and future public access and use.
One interesting statistic shows that 82% percent of current survey participants Strongly Agree or Agree that “opening the Pilot Hill Project area to the public would enhance economic development opportunities for Albany County.”
We need your input too! Please take a few minutes to complete the survey.
We’ve had a great couple of weeks:
July 13, 2018: Thanks to the Pedal House for hosting the Pints for Pledges event and to the tremendous community of supporters who joined in this celebration. Over $40K was raised during the event.
Thanks to everyone who stopped to visit the Pilot Hill volunteers at Freedom Has a Birthday. Over $15K was pledged toward the land purchase, development and ongoing management.
Almost $100,000 in pledges and donations were submitted last week, making it one of the best yet for fundraising.
June 29, 2018: We’ve had a record setting week for pledges and fundraising, receiving almost $100,000 last week! Help us set a new record by finding us at the Farmer’s Market and joining us at Pint for Pledges this Friday. Thank you!
Grant awarded for resource inventory!
Albany County and the Albany County Historic Preservation Board was awarded a Certified Local Government Grant from the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office in the amount of $7,040 for the purpose of conducting the Pilot Peak Cultural Resource Inventory on the pilot hill property.
Press Release re: public input survey and pledge agreement
Read the full press release here.
Public survey now live!
We’re collecting input from the public and would love to hear what you have to say. Take the survey now
Pilot Hill Run to donate proceeds to the Pilot Hill Project
Join the Pilot Hill Run on June 2nd and a portion of your race entry will go directly to funding the Pilot Hill Project! Plus, it’s the only time of the year that the public can directly access the land. Learn more >
Pilot Hill Project featured on Wyoming Public Radio
Melodie Edwards joins Melanie Arnett on a tour of the land. Listen to the full story >
Call for Photos
The Pilot Hill Project Committee needs your help collecting images of the Pilot Hill Project.
We’re looking for photographs that showcase the sweeping vistas, shortgrass
prairie habitat, natural features and wildlife that characterize this unique and special place. Learn more >
Price reduced for Pilot Hill Project following appraisal
The price for the Pilot Hill Project has been reduced to $10.5 million following an appraisal.
The Albany County Commission signed a purchase agreement in September approving the purchase of about 5,500 acres of private land east of Laramie for $14 million. An appraisal was completed earlier this year, valuing the parcel at $10.5 million, and the purchase price was adjusted to reflect the appraisal.
The parcel, which would be open to the public after the purchase, stretches from the eastern edge of Laramie to the Pole Mountain Unit of the Medicine Bow National Forest. It covers a portion of the Casper Aquifer, which is a primary drinking water source for Laramie.
Public meetings set for March 22
A public meeting to discuss the purchase project has been scheduled for March 22 at the Lincoln Community Center, 365 W. Grand. Two sessions are scheduled for 5-7 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.
The meetings will be facilitated by the University of Wyoming Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources, which works with stakeholders to develop shared solutions. The goal of the meetings is to review the project status, answer questions, and seek public input. The Pilot Hill Project Committee is working to raise money for the purchase and develop plans for future management. You can donate to the Pilot Hill Fund at the Wyoming Community Foundation with 100% of your gift going toward purchasing the land. In the event that the purchase does not go through, donations will be used for a permanent fund to support recreation and conservation projects in Albany County. Go to PilotHill.org for more information.
Status Update, December 2017
- The Albany County Commissioners have appointed a Funding Oversight Committee to pursue funding for the purchase of approximately 5,528 acres located east of Laramie, WY, a project which will hereafter be referred to as the proposed Pilot Hill Land Purchase (PLP)
- The Committee Members are Chairman Chris Rothfuss (WY Senate), Vice-Chairman Tony Hoch (Laramie Rivers Conservation District), Terri Jones (Albany County Commissioner), Dan Furphy (WY House), Kermit Brown (UW Trustee), Marilyn Kite (Public), and Bryan Shuster (Laramie City Council)
- The Committee has established four subcommittees and is in the process of appointing participants; the subcommittees are:
- Economic Development – Dan Furphy, Chair
- Land Management – Tony Hoch, Chair
- Finance – Marilyn Kite, Chair
- Communications – Terri Jones, Chair
- The committee will pursue funding from all available sources; the Wyoming Community Foundation will soon accept tax deductible charitable contributions towards the land purchase, and the County will establish an account to accept donations to support committee operations in support of the purchase in the near future
- The subcommittees will develop plans for management of the land, support fundraising efforts, and work to inform the public regarding the project status and vision
- During initial public meetings regarding this project, a survey conducted by the county indicated overwhelming support, although concerns were raised regarding the price and the source of funds for the purchase and long-term management of the land
- Foremost, the project is an opportunity to support future economic development and growth, by providing accessible open space and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors and thereby increasing the attractiveness of our community as a place to live and do business
- In addition, the project will bring many other benefits, including:
- Protection of a portion of the Casper Aquifer recharge zone, the primary drinking water source for the City of Laramie, the University of Wyoming, and Albany County Residents
- Preservation of the viewscape from Laramie east toward the Laramie Mountains
- Creation of a route for direct public access from Laramie to approximately 55,000 acres of National Forest lands east of Laramie
- Expanded public recreation opportunities, which will enhance the livability and experience for Albany County Residents, including students, faculty and staff affiliated with the University of Wyoming
- Increased tourism potential associated with improved recreational opportunities
- Preservation of an area that offers critical winter wildlife habitat
- The proposed sale price is $14MM; an appraisal of the land has been initiated
- The County has entered an agreement with the Seller, wherein funds for the purchase must be raised by September 2018
- The feasibility of Wyoming State Parks & Historic Sites to manage the land is being explored
- Planning for access will be focused on public right of ways at the edge of town
- As the project progresses and as funding discussions evolve, public meetings and opportunities for comment will be scheduled