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While local governments, businesses, and individuals wrestle with the impacts of coronavirus, public lands leasing to the oil and gas industry continues unabated. But this irresponsible federal leasing in Wyoming started well before the pandemic. In recent years, the Bureau of Land Management has drastically ramped up the amount of acreage available for leasing. Hundreds of thousands of acres of public land in Wyoming — including some of our most cherished landscapes and wildlife habitat — have been auctioned for development, with many parcels going for bargain basement prices.

The BLM is required to manage public lands for “multiple use,” balancing a wide range of activities and uses on our public lands — from outdoor recreation to wildlife habitat, preservation of historic and cultural sites, livestock grazing, industrial uses, and more. But today, over a third of all federal public lands in Wyoming are already leased to oil and gas companies for development. At a national level, 90 percent of BLM lands are available for leasing and new federal resource management plans across the West are opening up even more lands to industry, putting recreation and wildlife at risk. 

At the Wyoming Outdoor Council, we wonder where the balance is — and why our exceptional wildlife, outdoor recreation, and historical and cultural resources are being ignored.

That’s why we’re publishing a two-part report on the management of public lands in Wyoming, which includes infographics, photos, and interactive maps so you can better understand what’s at stake. 

Part I, which we’re releasing today, focuses on speculative oil and gas leasing in Wyoming. Specifically, we touch on the scale of leasing in Wyoming, where leases are located, and what resources they are impacting.

Part II, which we’ll publish along with the release of the long-awaited BLM draft resource management plan for the Rock Springs field office, will focus on this plan.- The RMP will dictate the management of millions of acres of public land in Wyoming for decades to come. The region includes treasured places like the Red Desert and irreplaceable wildlife habitat like the Red Desert to Hoback mule deer migration corridor and the Golden Triangle.

John

Rader

Conservation Advocate

Staff