Time to stand up for the Wyoming Range, again

By Brett Prettyman

National Forest Service officials, likely reflecting on a past public outcry to protect the Wyoming Range, have announced a preferred “no action, no leases” alternative on 40,000 acres of the iconic western Wyoming mountains.

The last time the wide open spaces of the Wyoming Range were threatened people stood up for the mountain landscape and vast array of wildlife and said they wanted it protected.

The result was 1.2 million acres of protection from future oil and gas extraction under the Wyoming Legacy Act of 2009.

Since then, people have quietly returned to their exploration of the Wyoming Range assuming their voices had been heard. All this time, however, the Bridger-Teton National Forest was working harder than ever behind the scenes trying to reach the best protective measures available for this special place.

 Trout Unlimited and other conservation groups are hoping those who rose to create the Legacy Act will share their voice again.

 The Bridger-Teton National Forest recently released a long-awaited Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on Wyoming Range Oil and Gas Leases for 30 parcels covering almost 40,000 acres on the eastern slope of the mountains.

The DSEIS addresses 39,400 acres and 30 lease parcels, which had been under consideration for leasing, but not developed. This DSEIS addresses new information based on updated science and management analysis and includes four alternatives ranging from no action/no leasing to allowing leasing with a variety of stipulations.

 Trout Unlimited appreciates Bridger-Teton Forest supervisor Tricia O’Conner for identifying Alternative 1 – no leasing – as the preferred alternative, but she will consider public comments when making her final decision.

“I will be considering all the alternatives and the environmental impacts associated with each to determine the best course of action. No single factor will lead me to any decision,” O’Connor said in a news release about the DSEIS. “I am confident that by allowing the process to work, I will better be able to weigh the combination of the sensitivity and values of the area, the value of the project to communities, the magnitude of other activities currently underway or planned with potentially cumulative impacts, and the concerns of citizens, organizations and other agencies before making the final decision. I welcome public comments, especially those that are specific to benefits or impacts of this project on natural resource or social issues important to you”.

 We know many will take O’Connor up on her invitation to comment. Trout Unlimited implores those who stood up for the Wyoming Range starting in 2005, and many others, to do so again. If you love the Wyoming Range, or just wild places in general, provide comments on the draft.

“We are excited to move one step closer to completing this analysis. Now, we expect a large battle cry from sportsmen and women in support of Alternative 1 to ensure the Wyoming Range is permanently protected,” said Shane Cross, Western Energy Counsel for Trout Unlimited.

The DSEIS can be viewed here. The deadline for comments on the draft is May 23, 2016, and can be submitted in writing (electronic or letter). Letters can be sent to: Donald Kranendonk, District Ranger, Big Piney Ranger District, Bridger-Teton National Forest, 10418 South U.S. Highway 189, P.O. Box 218, Big Piney, WY 83113. Electronic comments can be submitted on this page.

Trout Unlimited’s Tom Reed helped create the Wyoming Range Legacy Act. He plans to lend his voice again to the Wyoming Range.

“The Forest Service listened to the people, weighed the science benefits and the resource impacts and made the right decision,” said Reed, a regional TU director. “Energy means a lot to Wyoming, but so do the places we hunt and fish. The Wyoming Range is a place worth protecting.”



Brett Prettyman is the Intermountain Communications Director for Trout Unlimited. He lives in Salt Lake City and has ventured into the Wyoming Range in pursuit of migratory cutthroat trout.


Add Content