Contact: Colin Betzler, SCLT Executive Director
Phone: (307) 673 – 4702
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/9/2016
Partnership Secures New Community Nature Park
The Sheridan Community Land Trust (SCLT) and a range of diverse project partners are pleased to announce the protection of more than 31 acres along Goose Creek in Sheridan for a public park and open space. This project represents the culmination of a multi-year effort to secure the property for the benefit of our community. Over the past 18 months, SCLT has worked closely with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Wyoming and the LOR Foundation as well as the Homer and Mildred Scott Foundation, the Foundation for Community Vitality, and the City of Sheridan. Many local and regional organizations, entities and individuals were also crucial in making this project possible, including the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust and Cloud Peak Energy among other anonymous contributors. The City of Sheridan will own the property and engage with the community prior to making any changes to the natural area.
History of the Project
In 2008, the City of Sheridan identified more than 31 acres along Goose Creek for the purpose of a public park and open space and made several offers to purchase the property. However, with its B-1 zoning designation, prime location along Decker Road, and beautiful natural setting, fair market value was too expensive for the City to seriously contemplate. In 2009, Mayor Kinskey brought the property to the attention of the Sheridan Community Land Trust by highlighting the 2008 North Main Master Plan and asking SCLT to evaluate if there were any strategies available to achieving the community’s vision for the area.
In late 2014, TNC in Wyoming, a valued SCLT partner, introduced a new grant program that prioritized community conservation projects throughout the state. This program is made possible through TNC’s partnership with the LOR Foundation, which partners with organizations and communities to improve livability and quality of life for small towns in the Intermountain west.
SCLT and TNC began working on the North Gateway project in earnest during the spring of 2015 to identify a way forward. They were fortunate to find two more critical partners in the Homer and Mildred Scott Foundation and the Foundation for Community Vitality. In addition to giving financially to the project, these foundations generously agreed to form a Limited Liability Company to purchase and secure the property, which they did on December 18, 2015. This gave project partners the stability necessary to raise funds for the purchase of the development values through a purchased conservation easement.
This project is an illustration of how western communities can drive strategies to achieve what they value most – protected landscapes, access to nature, recreation, and more – to enhance livability while fostering connections with the land for people of all ages, income classes and abilities.
SCLT Board Chair Mike Evers commented, “We are extremely proud of the North Gateway project and the benefits it will bring to Sheridan County. This project was a true collaborative effort.”
“This project is an elegant culmination to a vision shared among many entities and which results in the public good. It has allowed the partners to pioneer a new way to leverage philanthropic funds, protect a vital piece of open land and Goose Creek and help pave the way to a beautiful entrance to Sheridan. We are so thankful for the many contributors to the project,” added Rick Pallister, TNC’s Northeast Program Director.
- Acquisition of more than 31 acres of public open space along Goose Creek
- Protection of prime streamside wildlife habitat and floodplain within the Tongue River watershed
- Allows for future creation of natural-surface trails connecting to existing North Park
- Reserves the right for a future community education center