Wyoming Is Considering A Massive Land Purchase That Could Bring Wealth To The State

Feb 17, 2020

State officials announce a possible land purchase in southern Wyoming.
Credit Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

The State of Wyoming is working on a massive land deal that would involve one million square acres across southern Wyoming.

Occidental Petroleum is trying to sell the land that is commonly known as the Union Pacific checkerboard. The state sees it as a rare opportunity to acquire mineral, recreation and other types of assets in Wyoming and other states. Governor Mark Gordon said his office and others have been working on the sale for six months.

"We now start the enviable process of trying to go through an analyze exactly what it is we're gonna get. What the challenges are, what the income flows that will derive from that are," said Gordon.

State officials are not formally saying what the cost will be, but Treasurer Curt Meier indicated that it might require a lot of Wyoming's reserves. Senator Eli Bebout said the state has the money in the bank to complete the deal. He said the stars are lined up.

"Now is the time to do it and let's move forward and I've been doing this for 28 years now and I've never seen anything quite like this. It could be a real home run," said Bebout.

Lawmakers say completing the deal might require a summer special legislative session.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Bob Beck, at btwo@uwyo.edu.