Efforts to create a 5,500-acre state park on the mountainside outside of Laramie called Pilot Hill is moving forward. Albany County commissioners recently approved a contractor to develop a land-use plan. SE Group will get paid $70,000 to seek public input and then plan out trailheads and trail systems for the park.
Pilot Hill Finance Committee Member Sarah Brown Mathews said SE Group has experience with such public land projects in Colorado and Utah.
"They look at both open space values and conservation interested by the community and blend that beautifully with bigger pictures of community development and economic development for communities where these parks are located," said Mathews.
The planners will offer two public access days on the property to hear people's ideas for the property on the first Saturdays in September and October. Then they'll use that to begin envisioning trail systems for hikers, bikers and horseback riders. They'll also figure out the best place for trailheads on the eastern edge of town as well as at the top of the mountainb where the land meets national forest.
Oversight Committee Co-chair Tony Hoch said the Wyoming Game and Fish Department may also end up managing the area for wildlife.
"The canyons are places that we don't have public access to in this part of the county, or this part of the state even. Really deep limestone canyons with Douglas firs and ponderosa pine and ample wildlife," said Hoch. "When you go there you feel like no other people have been there before. It's really wild."
Hoch said the planners have experience figuring out how to balance that wildness with recreation.
Once fundraising is complete and the project is approved by the state, the hope is to open the park next summer.