Outfitters, Hunters and Anglers Support IBLA Decision to Delay Wyoming Range Lease
Jen Lamb, NOLS – 307-335-2262, Lander, WY
Cathy Purves, TU – 307-332-6700, Lander, WY
Dan Smitherman, Hoback Peak Outfitters – 307-690-1737, Hoback Junction
Reed Thomas, LaBarge, WY – 307-782-3683
Lander, WY. Local anglers, Trout Unlimited (TU), the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), and other outfitters praised the Interior Board of Land Appeal’s July 10th decision to put a hold on the first Wyoming Range lease sold in December of 2005.
NOLS, TU and a group of outfitters are currently in the process of appealing decisions to lease adjacent areas in the Wyoming Range for oil and gas development. “Clearly this decision from the IBLA supports our concerns that further studies are needed before proceeding with oil and gas leasing in this region,” says Jen Lamb, NOLS’ Public Policy Director. NOLS, a wilderness educator, is permitted to lead backcountry expeditions into areas of the Range that were leased in December, in addition to areas in the April, June and upcoming August lease sales.
“Our core concerns have to do with the potential long-term effects that oil and gas development will have on the backcountry experiences of fishermen, hunters, and recreationists who use the Wyoming Range for all that it has to offer,” explains Cathy Purves, Trout Unlimited’s oil and gas advisor.
In particular, many businesses, including those that hold permits to operate in the Range, have concerns about the long-term impact on wildlife and fish and their habitat. “If mule deer migration corridors and summer range in the Merna area—much of which was leased in April and June—see significant development, the health of our herds will be affected and our businesses will suffer,” says Dan Smitherman, owner of Hoback Peak Outfitters.
“I have fished for cutthroat in those waters for many, many years and though I make my living in the oil and gas industry, I just feel these areas in the Wyoming Range should not be leased. So, I am very pleased to hear this news, “states Reed Thomas of LaBarge, Wyoming.
“We applaud the Interior’s decision and hope that it indicates intent to further study the potential impacts of leasing in the Range before the BLM and the Forest Service proceed with additional leasing and development,” says Lamb.