A preliminary land exchange proposal from Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments (OSLI), related to the West Fork Battle Creek Reservoir project, has been received by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Medicine Bow National Forest.
The Forest Service will now conduct a feasibility analysis/study of the proposed exchange in southern Wyoming, Sierra Madre Range, as a first level screen. This includes identifying potential public benefit, as well as both public support and opposition. The resulting product is referred to as a Public Interest Determination.
As part of this process the Forest Service will be joining public meetings Jan. 10-12, 2023, planned by Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the lead federal agency for the larger reservoir project.
During the meetings, the Forest Service role will be to present information on the preliminary land exchange proposal, share generally what the agency’s land exchange process involves, and provide an opportunity for public input to inform the feasibility study.
It is important to note that the Forest Service has not yet determined if this is a feasible exchange, nor has the agency agreed to initiate it.
Meeting details are as follows:
- Tues., Jan. 10: Craig, Colo., 5-7 p.m.
- Virtual option available, Register here
- Colorado Northwest Community College; Room 175, 2801 W 9th St, 81625
- Wed., Jan. 11: Baggs, Wyo., 6:30-8:30 p.m.
- Valley Community Center, 255 W Osborne St, 82321
- Thurs., Jan. 12: Saratoga, Wyo., 5:30-7:30 p.m.
- Platte Valley Community Center, 210 W Elm Ave, 82331
Land exchange proposal details will be available the week of the public meetings on the Forests’ project website.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service did not initiate the land exchange idea, however over a course of several years a range of land exchange concepts have been part of ongoing discussions with the State OSLI.
The Forest Service is engaging in discussions with partners and as a participating agency in environmental analysis for supplemental water storage in the Little Snake River Basin.
The West Fork Battle Creek project, which conceptually could build a 130-surface acre reservoir with water capacity of 10,000 acre-feet, is sponsored by two water conservancy districts: Savery-Little Snake in Wyoming, and Pothook in northwest Colorado.
The State of Wyoming has identified a location south of Highway 70 in Carbon County, Wyo. as the preferred site for a new reservoir. A portion of the proposed reservoir site would be on lands currently managed by the Medicine Bow National Forest, Brush Creek/Hayden Ranger District.
According to the Wyoming Water Development Commission (WWDC), the reservoir’s primary use would be for irrigation, with ancillary benefits to recreation and watershed management. Analysis and studies have been underway since 2008, contracted by the WWDC.
The Forest Service is working with the NRCS, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and multiple agencies from the State of Wyoming on what would be a combined Environmental Impact Statement for a limited land exchange, the reservoir, and associated permits. SWCA Environmental Consultants has been hired by the State as a third-party NEPA contractor.
According to Forest Service policy, the environmental analysis should focus on the future use and management of the lands acquired and conveyed, as well as the effect of the exchange on the lands that adjoin them.
Information on the Medicine Bow National Forest can be found on our website or on the Forests’ Twitter and Facebook accounts. The Brush Creek/Hayden Ranger District office can be reached at (307) 326-5258.