Editor's note: Because of the timely nature of this letter, the 30-day rule has been waived.
Last week Bill Criss, the owner operator of the Criss ranch, traveled to Douglas to be presented with a Wyoming Centennial Ranch certificate. Bill’s family has owned the embattled ranch for over 130 years, but that may soon come to an end.
As the Governor, members of the State Legislature and Wyoming Congressional delegation bestowed accolades upon Bill for this monumental achievement some also bemoaned the fact that Bill’s family’s ranch on the western shores of Gray Rocks Reservoir has withstood fire, flood and myriad other maladies, yet the assault that will likely take them down comes not from nature or the marketplace, but from our government.
As bluntly told to Bill by a BLM employee paraphrased: “the transfer of your grazing lease from the BLM to the state will occur. When it does, the state entity that wants the 2,500 acres of chalk washes and dry scrub is the Wyoming National Guard, and that is who will eventually get it.”
You see, Bill’s deeded land is divided by a strip of land that heretofore no one has wanted or considered to be of any value. Without that lease, the Criss Ranch would be divided and unable to function. Bill’s family has leased the land since before there was a BLM and has likely paid for it several times over. The Wyoming National Guard wishes to “clean up” their boarders and be able to provide large scale joint forces fire and maneuver training. Bill’s ranch is simply in the way. One has to ask oneself “when the government comes after me, will anyone help?”
Gathered under that tent in Douglas were all the people capable of helping Bill. Yet they spoke as though they were outsiders and the government was some separate evil entity foreign to them.
Wish to help? Contact Governor Mead, Senator Anderson and Rep. Dan Kirkbride and then contact Senators Barrasso and Enzi and Representative Lummis. Ask them to halt the loss forever of the Criss Ranch, a Wyoming Landmark worth saving.
Rural Platte County