A proposal for 136 new oil and gas wells in a sensitive wildlife area south of Jackson Hole, Wyoming has been put on hold pending further review, announced the U.S. Forest Service yesterday. The Forest Service is now considering an alternative to the original drilling plan with fewer roads and infrastructure relocated from the western end of the project where it poses the greatest harm to the endangered Canada lynx and other wildlife.
Defenders lynx expert David Gaillard has been working with a broad coalition called Citizens for the Wyoming Range to prevent the project from destroying critical wildlife habitat. This summer he placed remote cameras along the Upper Hoback Rim and documented mule deer, elk, moose, a black bear, a bobcat, pronghorn antelope and a fox or coyote all using the area. These species and many others will be at risk if the project moves forward. (See video below)
Defenders’ members helped generate a record 60,000 comments raising concerns about this project, a key factor in the Forest Service’s decision to withdraw the plan for further analysis. But the battle isn’t over until we know the lynx and other vulnerable wildlife are safe. The expanded environmental review is slated for completion in early 2012, before Bridger-Teton National Forest officials decide whether to approve the drilling project and under what conditions.
Thanks to Defenders activists and others who responded to our alerts on this issue and helped us gain this important reprieve. We’re likely to need your support again in 2012 to make sure that this and other harmful projects do not threaten native wildlife on our national forests in Wyoming.