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IF YOU HAVEN’T DONE SO ALREADY, now is your chance to support a new proposal by the U.S. Forest Service not to lease 44,700 acres in the Wyoming Range for oil and gas development.

The deadline to comment on the agency’s preferred alternative is March 22. See details below for where and how to comment.

The Bridger-Teton National Forest in January released a long-awaited updated analysis of contested oil and gas leases on the eastern front of the Wyoming Range.

The agency had previously decided to lease 44,700 acres in the Wyoming Range for oil and gas development, but because of legal challenges and strong public outcry from hunters, anglers, hikers, Republican and Democratic elected officials, ranchers, conservationists, labor unions, and many others, the agency decided to do an updated analysis of the proposed development.

The draft of this new analysis states the agency’s preferred course of action now is for no leasing, which would in effect cancel all of the contested leases. This decision that would be in line with the wishes of the broad coalition that has worked for four years to protect the Wyoming Range from development.

HOW TO COMMENT

  • You can send your comments via email by clicking here, or by copying and pasting this email address into the “To” field of your email client: comments-intermtn-bridger-teton@fs.fed.us
  • You can mail comments to Kniffy Hamilton, Bridger-Teton National Forest, 340 N. Cache, P.O. Box 1888, Jackson, WY 83001

The Wyoming Outdoor Council is grateful to Bridger-Teton Forest Supervisor Kniffy Hamilton for stepping up and doing what needed to be done about these 44,700 acres.

The Forest Service’s preferred alternative recognizes that the Wyoming Range is a special part of Wyoming, and that the people who live here want to make sure it stays that way for our children and grandchildren. This decision is about preserving a little piece of Wyoming’s heritage, and making sure we can keep our hunting, fishing and outdoors way of life.

The Forest Service’s preferred alternative is in line with the wishes of a broad coalition of Wyoming’s hunters, anglers, elected officials, and everyone else who loves the Wyoming Range and what it means to this state.

This ensures that all of the things that make the Wyoming Range such an important resource for Wyoming—its scenic beauty, its hunting and fishing, its clean rivers and streams—will be around for generations to come.

LEASES CONTROVERSIAL FROM THE START

The Forest Service leased the acres in question for oil and gas development in four sales in 2005 and 2006. The leases faced numerous protests from conservation groups, labor unions, hunters and fishermen, concerned citizens, and the governor’s office, among others—who came together to stop the industrialization of the Wyoming Range, and conserve its recreational values.

The Wyoming Range Legacy Act—introduced by Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso in October 2007 in response to the development threats—was signed into law in March 2009. The act removed 1.2 million acres of the Wyoming Range from future oil and gas leasing, and had widespread public support.

The legislation left the fate of the 44,720 acres of contested leases to the agencies. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management decided in August to rescind about half of the contested leases, and refund the high bidders.

This latest draft analysis by the Forest Service addresses the entire 44,720 acres—not simply the remaining 21,000 acres—because industry is currently challenging the BLM’s decision to rescind the other half of the leases.

This updated analysis shows that the Forest Service’s preferred alternative is to cancel all of the leases from the first two sales.

Media Contact: Lisa McGee, Wyoming Outdoor Council, 307-332-7031 x20; lisa@wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org.

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