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Councilmembers contemplate uses for ongoing Belvoir Ranch project; public trail system to open summer 2025

The city bought the ranch over two decades ago with the intent of harnessing its water resources and instituting a landfill.

Belvoir Ranch. (Jared Gendron/Cap City News)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — With a new trail system coming to Belvoir Ranch in 2025, many southeast Wyoming residents are wondering what else the City of Cheyenne is planning to do with the open space. A city work session on Friday aimed to illuminate recent developments at the ranch.

City of Cheyenne councilmembers met on Friday to discuss the current status of the Belvoir Ranch Master Plan. The city purchased the 18,800-acre region of land in 2003 with the purpose of creating a landfill and harnessing the land’s water resources, according to Mark Christensen, senior planner with AVI Professional Corporation. Christensen is serving as the planning consultant for the city’s Belvoir Ranch initiatives.

Planners originally devised a Master Plan in 2008 and proposed 36 unique uses for the ranch. Some ideas included a petting zoo, playgrounds, a museum, a university research center and picnic shelters. But for over 20 years, the ranch has mostly been left untouched, aside for installation of over 100 wind turbines on or adjacent to the land, according to Friday’s presentation. Only recently did the city begin development of around 6 miles of trails and a trailhead on the ranch, which will be open for public use in summer 2025.

Since 2008, city staff have brainstormed a myriad of other ideas on how to use the ranch. Friday’s discussion between AVI and city councilmembers highlighted where the Belvoir Ranch initiatives currently stand.

2024 Master Plan Updates

For the 2024 Belvoir Ranch Master Plan, Christensen wants to consider the recommendations over the years for uses of the ranch. His team is also working to assess the current conditions of the land, condense elements from the original 2008 plan and lay out an implementation strategy.

To prepare for the 2024 update, Christensen and AVI have been gathering input from stakeholder groups such as the Belvoir Ranch Steering Committee, the Board of Public Utilities, the Cheyenne Running Club and City of Fort Collins Open Space.

In addition, AVI held two public meetings in spring. The engineering organization received the following comments from local residents:

  • Multi-use trails should be considered for various recreations such as hiking, biking, horse riding, hunting and fishing. The ranch should also have multiple access points.
  • Safety is a top concern. The 2024 plan should take into account cell reception, road improvements and oversight from a ranger when considering future public use on the ranch.
  • Residents have a strong desire for connections to the Colorado trail systems at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Mountain Open Space.

Christensen shared with councilmembers the project schedule for the coming months:

  • July: Draft a plan and hold a third public meeting.
  • August: Receive input from the Planning Commission and Belvoir Steering Committee.
  • September: Receive input from Cheyenne City Council and create the final plan.

Comments from Councilmembers

Councilmember Tom Segrave stated he is interested in putting together a five-year plan for the ranch. He also believes the west end of the ranch would be used for public activities posed in the 2008 plan, such as bird viewing, fishing, campsites and tent camping and even a playground. The councilmember added that in the long term, he thinks the east side of ranch close to Swan Ranch is a prime area for economic development.

Councilmember Michelle Aldrich said Belvoir Ranch planners should focus their work on whatever is realistic. She stated that people moving to southeast Wyoming do so in part for the western experience. The Belvoir Ranch could meet that need.

“I agree that people come here for that Western experience or expecting that Western experience,” Aldrich said. “We are unique in that we’re one of the only cities that owns a working ranch. However, I do also think that there’s a lot of outdoor recreation available out on the Belvoir Ranch that — people who are wanting to, not necessarily visit a legend, but want to create a legend with their activities and other recreations to look forward to.”

Aldrich added that she would like to see Christensen and his team create a timeline for the ranch as they continue to gather information from stakeholders and the public.