CHEYENNE, Wyo. \u2014 Governor Mark Gordon has joined Legislative Leadership in their support for two bipartisan bills that would allow the State of Wyoming to evaluate a significant land purchase that could bring new income to the state while benefiting public access for hunting and outdoor recreation, wildlife, and other economic interests. \u201cWyoming faces big challenges in the years to come\u2014challenges that will require bold actions and ideas to bring about equally big solutions,\u201d Gordon said. \u201cWe have taken the first step in a long and thoughtful process that can put private lands into Wyoming hands. I\u2019m committed to ensuring that our State gives this potential investment its proper due diligence to determine if this purchase would benefit Wyoming citizens and create new revenues.\u201d Senate File 138 was passed unanimously out of the Senate Appropriations Committee last week after receiving unanimous support from the Senate on introduction last week. HB249 received strong support from the House on introduction last week and is scheduled to be heard by the House Appropriations Committee this week. The bills would allow the State of Wyoming to enter negotiations for the purchase of a \u201ccheckerboard\u201d of 1 million surface acres of land in southern Wyoming that was part of the original land grant to Union Pacific when they built the railroad across the nation. In addition to grazing, hunting, and outdoor recreation, the parcels include mineral development opportunities for coal, oil, gas, trona, and potentially some rare earth elements. Occidental Petroleum purchased Anadarko Petroleum last year. Occidental subsequently announced its intention to divest itself of some assets it acquired from Anadarko. These assets include the parcels the State is exploring the purchase of. \u201cOur conversations with Occidental Petroleum have been positive, but this is only the beginning,\u201d the Governor said. \u201cWe now need to look at the challenges and the opportunities presented to us.\u201d The bills were added last-minute this session, prompting some news outlets to question the hastiness and perceived covertness on behalf of state lawmakers. Legislators counter that the deal, like most real estate transactions, is a rare opportunity that will not remain on the table for long. If a final bill is signed into law by the Governor, the Office of State Lands and Investments, State Loan and Investment Board, and the Attorney General will begin a thorough vetting process that will include an appraisal, examination of potential revenue streams and a determination of the investment policies of each funding source. Legislators from both the House and Senate will aid in this evaluation process. If the State Lands and Investment Board approves this proposal as a viable and profitable option for the State, the Legislature would have 60 days to review the final package.