Land Committee Chair Says Bull Creek Sets Bad Precedent

Public Land Users Committee members from left, Gabe Johnson, Ted Lapis, Bill Adsit and Randy Burns. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Public Land Users Committee members from left, Gabe Johnson, Ted Lapis, Bill Adsit and Randy Burns. (Photo by Pat Blair)

The chairman of Sheridan County's Public Land Users Committee says a recent land swap by Wyoming's state board of land commissioners sets a bad precedent.

On Feb. 1, the state board, which consists of the governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and superintendent of public instruction, voted 3-1 to approve the Bull Creek No. 2 land exchange. The swap exchanges 3,200 acres of various state land parcels in Sheridan and Johnson counties, for 2,379 acres of deeded property on the southern portion of Bull Creek Ranch south of Buffalo.

Ted Lapis, who chairs the land users group, said the public process doesn't seem to have been followed in the exchange.

During a meeting of the land users committee Monday night, Lapis quoted recently resigned Secretary of State Ed Murray as saying there are dinosaur fossils of great value to the natural history of Wyoming and the West located in the parcels that were traded for the ranch land, which is owned by S.K. Johnston Jr. of Sheridan County.

Lapis said the land swap wasn't published in Sheridan, and he said at the land users' meeting that his real concern was the lack of public input. The land users committee took no formal action on the matter.

The exchange is solely for the surface land and doesn't include minerals. In voting against the exchange, Murray said the exchange process didn't seem transparent. The appraised value of the state trust land is $5.4 million, and Bull Creek Ranch No. 2 has been appraised at $4.3 million. To make up the value difference, the state will receive a payment of just over $1 million at closing.

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Land Users Chairman Ted Lapis. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Land Users Chairman Ted Lapis. (Photo by Pat Blair)
SheridanWyoming.com

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