Council Protests Oil & Gas Leases in Crucial Wildlife Habitat

THE WYOMING OUTDOOR COUNCIL and several other conservation groups are protesting the inclusion of some wildlife-rich parcels in the federal government’s May oil and gas lease sale.

The parcels in question — five near Cody, six in the Red Desert’s Adobe Town area and one outside of Lander — are all documented crucial habitat areas for deer, elk or sage grouse, said Bruce Pendery with the Wyoming Outdoor Council.

“These are all parcels that really need to be pulled from the sale,” Pendery said. “Wildlife managers will tell you that you don’t want to have industrial development in crucial winter range. As anybody who lives in Wyoming knows, deer and elk rely on a very small amount of range to survive the winter.”

(To view copies of the official protests click on the images to the right.)

The Cody-area parcels included in the protest are all in the western portion of the Bighorn Basin, and — according to a variety of sources, including the BLM — they are all in crucial winter range for deer and elk, or they fall within sage grouse core areas, Pendery said.

The Red Desert parcels named in the protest are within citizens’ proposed wilderness in south-central Wyoming’s iconic Adobe Town, an area famous for its intricate badlands, towering cliffs, spires, and arches.

Part of Adobe Town was recognized in 2007 by the state of Wyoming as an official “very rare or uncommon” area.

“Adobe town is one of this state’s most special landscapes, and it’s part of our heritage,” Pendery said. “It has a tremendous history, great wilderness values, opportunities for solitude, hunting, and to just get away from it all. It’s one of the most incredible places in Wyoming.”

The Lander-area parcel that the groups are protesting straddles the Fuller Peak citizens’ proposed wilderness northeast of Shoshoni.

WHAT IS AN OIL AND GAS LEASE SALE?

The Bureau of Land Management holds oil and gas lease sales quarterly in Wyoming, in which it auctions off parcels of public land that have been nominated for oil and gas drilling.

As a built-in safeguard, the public has an opportunity to protest the offering of any given parcels, and groups and individuals often do protest.

Many of the protests are denied, but the BLM has, subsequent to protests by the Wyoming Outdoor Council and others, pulled many parcels from its auctions.

Here is a schedule of upcoming BLM oil and gas lease sales in Wyoming:

August 3, 2010
November 2, 2010
February 1, 2011
May 3, 2011
August 2, 2011
November 1, 2011

For more information on the BLM’s oil and has lease sale program click here.


Contact: Bruce Pendery, program manager, Wyoming Outdoor Council, 435-752-2111, bruce@wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org.

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