By Lisa McGee


I have fantastic news to share with you. The Upper Hoback Basin, which for years has been threatened by the specter of industrial-scale oil and gas development, is on its way to permanent protection.

Plains Exploration and Production Company, the leaseholder and drilling proponent, has agreed to sell its oil and gas leases—covering 58,000 acres of national forest, private, and BLM land—to a conservation buyer, the Trust for Public Land.

The agreement was announced this morning at a media event in Jackson, Wyoming, with Governor Matt Mead and about 100 local residents, including hunters, anglers, ranchers, and mineral industry workers.

“This is an outstanding outcome for the people of Wyoming—a true ‘win-win’ resolution. It respects both the wishes of local residents and the legal rights of leaseholders,” Governor Mead said during his address.

Thanks to the Wyoming Range Legacy Act, these leases underlying the Bridger-Teton National Forest can never be leased again, and we are working to ensure the few thousand acres outside the Legacy Act boundary are also protected.

Half of the $8.75 million purchase price has already been generously donated. I hope you’ll join with me today in celebration and consider a donation of any amount by visiting: tpl.org/savethehoback.

This agreement is a testament to the remarkable things regular citizens can do. Wyoming is a state characterized by few people and lots of public land. We are often described as a fiercely independent bunch, but I can attest that most everyone I’ve had the honor of working with these many long years has shown they will come together—despite significant differences on other issues—to do just about anything to defend the places they love.

This could not have happened without citizens who cared; this could not have happened without you.

You may think that the things the Wyoming Outdoor Council sometimes asks of you are insignificant or won’t make a difference. I hope this happy news convinces you that every email read, letter written, public meeting attended, bumper sticker affixed, petition signed, or donation made does in fact matter and it does make a difference.

How the deal came together

This is the solution we’ve been working toward for a very long time. The Wilderness Society, Citizens for the Wyoming Range, and the Wyoming Outdoor Council approached The Trust for Public Land many months ago in the hope that its experience and expertise with complex land conservation negotiations could result in a positive outcome for the Upper Hoback and for all stakeholders.

I am incredibly grateful to The Trust for Public Land for the amazing work it did to get us to this point and I commend PXP for agreeing to the sale.

This unique conservation agreement safeguards cherished public land now and for future generations. The Upper Hoback Basin is one of the most important wildlife migratory crossroads in the nation and the headwaters of the congressionally designated wild and scenic Hoback River. It provides recreational opportunities to myriad forest users, including hunters, horse packers, ranchers and hikers, and offers downstream fishing and boating experiences.

It was the last place Wyoming citizens wanted to see an industrial gas field.

I hope sometime this weekend you’ll raise a glass with friends or family to toast and celebrate this news. I hope you will also reflect on what we can accomplish in Wyoming when we work together. My sincere appreciation to you, to our conservation partners and everyone who has helped get us here—to this exciting day.

To learn more and to donate, please visit: tpl.org/savethehoback


Here are some images of the area, courtesy The Wilderness Society:




Other posts you might want to see:

Great video about the Upper Hoback: Too Special to Drill

Houston, we have a problem.

Bridger-Teton gas drilling proposal: Listen to the latest here

Opposition to Wyo Range drilling has ‘galvanized’

Hydraulic fracturing: what we’d like to achieve

UW hydraulic fracturing forum benefited from public involvement

NYT: Fracking has contaminated drinking water

NPR: Worries over water as fracking becomes pervasive

Why We’re Seeking Fracking Chemical Information

Groups seek better disclosure of fracking chemicals in Wyoming

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