State buys Moskee land

By: 
Alexis Barker

Alexis Barker

NLJ News Editor

 

A process that began in late 2018 came to fruition this year when the state of Wyoming completed a transaction purchasing 4,349 acres of land in the Moskee area in Crook County, roughly  7 miles east of Sundance. 

As previously reported in the News Letter Journal, the purchase of the land would open up the acreage to hunting and other recreational activities. The property is accessible via Moskee Road and varies in terrain and foliage, according to documents from the Office of State Lands and Investments. 

Documents from the office dated Dec. 27, 2018, state that the Forestry Division of the Office of State Lands and Investments had indicated that Moskee was an area of crucial concern and was within the “State’s Priority Forest Landscape,” part of the Wyoming Forest Action Plan and the Forest Legacy Program: Assessment of Need. 

“Acquisition of this property complements the Forestry Division’s strategic objective to “Connect People to Forests” through protection and leveraging of its significant habitat, recreational, historic, and public access values,” the document states. 

The document further states that the land could meet the trust land management objectives by increasing annual revenue and appreciation potential. 

“There are an estimated 1,075 AUMs (AUM is the amount of forage needed by an animal unit for grazing for one month) available for grazing on this property,” the document says. “At the current rate of $6.18/AUM, this would generate approximately $6,643.50 per year in grazing revenue.” 

The document added that this would be the worst-case scenario revenue for leasing the land and that revenue could reach $38,700 annually. Jessica Murkin, real estate analyst for the Office of State Lands and Investments, said that the expectation is for the land to produce revenue from logging as well as grazing. 

According to Murkin, the now-state-owned land was purchased using $6 million that was awarded to the Forestry Division by the Forest Legacy Program. The land acquisition was valued at $11,525,000. 

According to the land features provided by Murkin, the property is 90% forested and has been managed for timber production for nearly a century. The property is listed as having the potential to host anywhere from 500 to 700 additional hunter-use days annually, according to analysis from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. 

As far as wildlife and habitat go, the property provides important habitat for 63 birds, 30 mammals, 8 reptiles, 4 amphibians and 38 plants identified as Wyoming species of greatest conservation need, including the northern goshawk, northern pygmy-owl, least weasel and the smooth green snake. 

“The canyon’s cliffs and snags provide habitat for the northern long-eared bat (listed as threatened),” the summary says. “Burned pine stands provide habitat for the black-backed woodpecker (petitioned for listing) and 15 USFS Region 2 Sensitive Species are known to use the site.” 

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