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The Pilot Hill Project announced Tuesday that the land exchange to acquire the Pilot Hill property is now complete.

A lease agreement between the state of Wyoming and Albany County has been activated. The land exchange closed Aug. 28.

The property is scheduled to open for public use as soon as possible, once several requirements in the lease agreement have been completed, including signage, fencing and agreements with non-state property owners. Chris Rothfuss, a member of the Pilot Hill Project oversight committee, said the work should be completed soon.

“We look forward to being able to welcome the community to enjoy the land this fall and will make an announcement as soon as we have a firm date,” Rothfuss said.

The closure is the final step in a two-year process to acquire the 4,344-acre property, which was exchanged for 11,668 acres of isolated state trust land in Albany and Laramie counties. The State Board of Land Commissioners approved the exchange earlier this summer. In November, the University of Wyoming formalized its partnership in the Pilot Hill Project with the purchase of 1,233 acres of the parcel, which will be managed jointly and provide an uninterrupted experience for visitors.

Gov. Mark Gordon said the exchange fulfills management objectives of the state’s trust lands by increasing immediate annual revenues, offering improved appreciation of land values, opening more than 4,000 acres of undeveloped open space for public recreational access and enhancing tourism opportunities.

“The culmination of this effort is a win for all Wyoming residents,” Gordon said. “The state will see increased leasing revenues, and access to this land will enhance our recreation economy by attracting additional visitors and improving quality of life for citizens.”

Since 2018, citizens, businesses and other organizations have donated more than $1 million for infrastructure and access development. The parcel will be held by Albany County and managed collaboratively under a non-profit organization called Pilot Hill Inc. A land-use plan is in development, and construction of the first trails is expected to begin this fall. Recreational opportunities will include non-motorized trails for hikers, cyclists and equestrians that connect to the Medicine Bow National Forest to the east. A portion of the property will be maintained with a primary focus on preserving critical habitat for elk, mule deer and pronghorn.

A community-wide celebration to commemorate the Pilot Hill Project is planned for next summer.

The Pilot Hill Project is a community collaboration with the goal of preserving undeveloped open space east of Laramie, which will protect wildlife habitat and the recharge zone for the Casper Aquifer, a drinking water resource for Albany County, enhance recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, and promote economic development by providing a world-class natural amenity to attract and retain businesses and their employees.

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