A personal note from the Wyoming Outdoor Council’s Lisa McGee:
Dear Outdoor Council Members and Supporters,
I write to you today in celebration for the great news we received recently about the Wyoming Range.
On Tuesday, the Bridger-Teton National Forest released its final decision regarding the fate of 44,720 acres of contested oil and gas leases along the eastern front of the Range.
I am happy to report that the U.S. Forest Service has listened to the public—the citizens of Wyoming and of the nation—who said this place is too special to drill.
After more than six years of uncertainty, the agency has decided it will not lease these acres for oil and gas development.
This is significant not only in the short term, but because these acres fall within the boundaries of the Wyoming Range Legacy Act withdrawal area—the 1.2 million acres that in 2009 were protected by law from any future oil and gas leasing—they will never be developed.
This decision ensures that the hunting, fishing, hiking, and other recreational activities that make the Wyoming Range so popular and valuable to our state and our nation will now be protected for future generations.
Outfitters will continue to take clients to these acres in search of deer and moose; anglers will still seek moments of solitude in clear mountain trout streams; hunters from southwest Wyoming will remain loyal to their hunting camps, returning each fall with friends and family as they’ve done for generations; and the elusive Canada lynx and other wildlife will have a chance to thrive on these lands without the threat of new industrial development.
Oil and gas development will continue to play an important and prominent role in Wyoming—but here, on these lands in the Wyoming Range, our outdoor heritage will remain intact.
Striking a balance is what good land management is all about. And with this decision not to lease these cherished lands, the Forest Service has made an important step toward striking that balance.
I realize the many actions I’ve encouraged you to take over the years on behalf of the Wyoming Range are leaps of faith. Many of you have understandably questioned whether a heartfelt letter, an official comment, an email to an elected official, or attendance at a public meeting really matters. It seems that often we participate only to learn later that a project we were hoping to avoid has gone forward.
In this case, our voices were heard and a decision was made that protects one of our most treasured landscapes in Wyoming.
I often close my correspondences with the phrase: “Together we can make a difference.” In this instance, I am thrilled to say that together we DID make a difference.
Thank you, our members, supporters, and partners, for standing up for one of Wyoming’s heritage landscapes.
p.s. North of the 44,720 (now protected) acres, our work on the proposed 136-well drilling project in the Upper Hoback area of the Wyoming Range continues. There was incredible turnout at three public meetings last week in Jackson, Bondurant, and Pinedale.
I’ll keep you updated with additional opportunities to weigh in as the March 11th comment deadline nears.