Betreff: WILDALERT: Energy leases in Bridger-Teton roadless areas to be auctioned by Forest Service
Von: "The Wilderness Society"
Datum: Tue, 07 Sep 2004 23:06:37 GMT
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WILDALERT: Energy leases in Bridger-Teton roadless areas to be auctioned by Forest Service
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Wild Alert
September 7, 2004
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Forest Service set to auction off energy leases in the Bridger-Teton National Forest
Photo: Whitebark pine on a hill in front of Mt
McDougal in the Wyoming
Range, Bridger-Teton National
Forest, WY. Photo courtesy of Lloyd Dorsey/Greater Yellowstone
Coalition. Energy development is now the dominant force in the management of our western public lands. As federal land managers rush headlong to lease some of our finest wildlands, they casually ignore all other values: fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, clean air and water.

The next to fall may be a largely wild but unprotected national forest area in Wyoming's northwest corner. The Bridger-Teton National Forest is poised to auction off 175,000 acres to energy exploration companies in the Wyoming Range, a vital southern leg of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Nearly two-thirds of the land is inventoried roadless areas. We need your help to protect it! Please write the U.S. Forest Service and insist that the agency keep industry out of this prime wildlife habitat and scenic treasure.

The first of several lease auctions is set for October 5, so please send your comments by Wednesday, September 15, 2004. You can take immediate action from:

Photo: Whitebark pine on a hill in front of Mt McDougal in the Wyoming Range, Bridger-Teton National Forest, WY. Photo courtesy of Lloyd Dorsey/Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

More on the Extraordinary Bridger-Teton National Forest
Photo: Cliff
Creek, Bridger-Teton National Forest, WY. Photo courtesy of
Scott Bosse/Greater Yellowstone Coalition. Few of our national forests are as blessed with natural attributes as the Bridger-Teton. Its fabled Wind River Range creates one of the most distinctive geological skylines in the West. Big game in the thousands migrate through the region, including the very areas now proposed for oil and gas leasing. Some of these areas are crucial calving grounds for elk.

The proposed lease area, a magnet for hunters and anglers, is a mosaic of aspen and coniferous forests and open grasslands. The Bridger-Teton forms a mountainous arc around the northern fringes of the Upper Green River Valley, a major wildlife area that has become ground zero in the frenzied Rocky Mountain natural gas rush. Not content with lucrative gas fields such as the Jonah and Pinedale Anticline, industry wants to tap reserves under the Wyoming Range to the west of valley. And the Forest Service seems eager to oblige.

The areas to be leased this fall include 92,000 acres of Inventoried Roadless Areas that are protected from road building by the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. A federal judge has blocked implementation of the Roadless Rule in Wyoming, but conservationists have appealed that decision to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Before inviting in the bulldozers, drill rigs, roads, and pipelines, the Forest Service should consider what will be lost if the tributary watersheds of the Green, Greys and Hoback rivers become an industrialized gas field.

Millions of Acres Under Lease; Three-quarters Unused!
Now is not the time for the Forest Service to open huge swaths of the Wyoming Range to energy development. The industry hasn't used 77 percent of the oil and gas leases it already holds in Wyoming, covering some 15 million acres as of 2003. There is plenty of land open to development without destroying the wildflower-filled meadows, old growth forests and streams of the Wyoming Range.

There are already more than 3,000 natural gas wells on Bureau of Land Management lands in the Upper Green River Valley. And thousands more are on the way. In all, 75 percent of the valley is now under lease. Despite this, the Bridger-Teton National Forest is dead set on leasing a vast sweep of immediately adjacent national forest land without undertaking a thorough environmental review, without revising the outdated forest plan and without public input of any kind.

The Wilderness Society was part of a successful campaign last year to dissuade Bridger-Teton officials from leasing over 376,000 acres in the forest's northern reaches. Vociferous public objection kept a vital link between the Gros Ventre and Bridger Wilderness Areas off the auction block. But that decision left the door open to industry on 613,000 other acres in the Wyoming Range, of which this proposed sale is a part. We need your help to protect those lands!

Please Contact Your Senators and Representative Today
Now is the time to speak up. This sell-off of our natural heritage starts October 5, 2004, so there isn't much time. Please take a moment today to tell the Bridger-Teton National Forest Supervisor that you want the Wyoming Range kept safe from oil roads and oil rigs! Remind her that the forest's natural assets far outweigh any oil and gas potential. You can send that message immediately from

Will you consider writing your own letter? Please do. Your own thoughts in your own words are always the most effective. We've attached a sample letter below from which you can draw the major points. And please send a copy of your comments to the Regional Forester.

For more information on the remarkable Upper Green River Valley, and for photos and maps, go to

Contact Information

Forest Supervisor Carole Hamilton
Bridger Teton National Forest
P.O. Box 1888
Jackson, WY 83001
Fax: (307)739-5010

Regional Forester Jack Troyer
USDA Forest Service
Intermountain Region
324 25th Street
Ogden, UT 84401
Fax: 801-625-5359

Sample Letter

Dear Supervisor Hamilton:

I am writing to urge you to reconsider your decision to issue oil and gas leases on the Bridger-Teton National Forest's Wyoming Range. Before you make a decision with such far-reaching consequences, the National Environmental Policy Act requires a more thorough and current environmental review than the 12-year-old review you are relying on here.

The area you propose to lease contains rare natural values far too precious to be sacrificed for the ephemeral benefits of natural gas production. This land provides vital big game habitat treasured by all wildlife enthusiasts. Much of it is untrammeled, wilderness-quality backcountry, a haven both for solitude-seeking humans and for protected species, such as lynx, wolverine, gray wolf and grizzly bear. Its streams harbor some of the last populations of native Colorado River cutthroat trout in Wyoming.

Rampant development on neighboring Bureau of Land Management land in the Upper Green River Valley has already brought excruciating pressure to bear on these species. There is no justification for releasing any more of the Bridger-Teton to the oil and gas industry. That is especially the case in light of the abundance of undeveloped leases that already exist throughout Wyoming.

Nearly two-thirds of the land to be leased is without roads, and the Roadless Area Conservation Rule requires that you keep it that way. You should take no action to allow road building in these now-roadless areas while the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reviews the Wyoming court decision enjoining the Roadless Rule.

Finally, no new leasing decisions should be made until after the forest updates its Land and Resource Management Plan. And none should be made until after you complete a thorough environmental impact statement, such as the one you completed last year before deciding to withdraw 376,000 acres in the northern portion of the forest from oil and gas leasing. Thank you for your consideration.

(Your name and address)

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