GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) - A potential historic site in Campbell County is in jeopardy.
Private landowners have spent years trying to broker a deal with the state, but that agreement might not pan out because the owner of the LX Bar Ranch has changed the terms of the deal and lawmakers are contemplating backing out.
Completed in 1910, the remote ranch, situated in the northwest corner of Campbell County was built by rancher John Kendrick, the ninth governor of Wyoming and the state’s first U.S. senator. The sprawling ranch and its five buildings were used until the 1970s.
Music producer James Guercio bought the ranch in 1992. Guercio was willing to give about 50 acres of the site to the state for free, on the condition that it pays to preserve it.
The Campbell County Commission worked with the Legislature to acquire and preserve the LX Bar Ranch, and the state approved funding in 2012, allocating $280,000 to the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources.
“The primary purpose was to protect this as a future historic site,” said Dan Barks of Gillette, president of the state Parks and Cultural Resources Commission. “There are no plans to develop it at this time, but it’s such a rich resource that we didn’t want to take a chance on it.”
Commissioner Micky Shober said he met Guercio on the property a few months ago, and by that time, Guercio had changed the terms of the deal.
Originally, the gifted plot was to amount to about 50 acres. Now, Guercio told Shober, he wants to give 12 acres.
When Shober inquired why Guercio wanted the land, he wouldn’t give an answer.
Barks doesn’t know the reason either.
Attempts to reach Guercio were unsuccessful, the Gillette News-Record reported (https://tinyurl.com/p7p7d58).
One change would require a new agreement from Guercio to cross into a proposed parking area and access the property from a river.
The path to access the land also crosses through other landowners’ property and since the proposed reduction, some have become reluctant to grant access, Barks said.
Shober said he still appreciates the gesture, but less of the ranch property doesn’t allow much breathing room for preservation.
“It takes away the historic significance, if there were other structures nearby for other than agricultural use,” Shober said. “The walking bridge would have to be done different. It limits the ability to store material or do different things there because of lack of property. You would never be able to do any kind of expansion there because you wouldn’t have the room.”
Information from: The Gillette (Wyo.) News Record, https://www.gillettenewsrecord.com
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