Commissioners Consider Beartooth Ranch Issue
Written by Andrew-Rossi on November 21, 2018
Agriculture interests and outdoor enthusiasts clashed yesterday in a contentious Park County Commissioners hearing regarding the Beartooth Ranch.
Spectators were turned away at the door as it was standing room only in the Commissioners meeting room at the Courthouse, with interested parties anxious to make their opinions heard regarding the future of the property that was turned over to the state in the late 1990s after the arrest of its owner who was convicted on charges of being a cocaine smuggler.
At the heart of yesterday’s hearing was a letter drafted by the State’s Joint Agriculture Committee, who stands ready to request Wyoming’s Congressional delegation take federal action to modify the restrictions set up almost twenty years ago that set the property aside for recreational use.
Commissioner-elect Lloyd Thiel has been ostracized by the other members of the Beartooth Ranch working group because he went on his own to the Legislature’s Ag Committee and requested that the MOU that was in place be altered so that the property could become a working ranch again. This opinion was contrary to the consensus of the rest of the group, according to chairman Len Fortunato, who said that they would like to see the property remain accessible to the general public for hunting, fishing and other recreation activities.
After hearing the various opinions from the crowd, the Park County Commissioners voted to ask the Joint Agriculture Committee to NOT send the letter to the Congressional Delegation, and allow the Beartooth Ranch Working Group to continue to work towards a solution that will prevent the land from degrading further, while still keeping the property accessible for recreation.