It’s been almost a year since we heard about the U.S. Forest Service’s plan to allow oil and gas drilling in the Upper Hobackregion of the Wyoming Range, but the wait was well worth it. We learned on Friday that PXP, the oil company proposing to drill 136 new wells in a critical wildlife corridor, agreed to sell their leases and forego the project entirely!
This is a major victory for the broad coalition known as The Citizens for the Wyoming Range, which has been battling the environmentally damaging proposal for more than a year and a half. With the help of the Trust for Public Land, the coalition negotiated a buyout of all of PXP’s existing drilling leases throughout the entire Bridger-Teton National Forest, and the leases will be retired forever. That means the myriad species that use the forest–deer, elk, moose, bears, bobcats, pronghorn antelope, lynx and more–can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Defenders played an important role in raising awareness of the disastrous drilling proposal. By sending out alerts to our members, we were able to help generate more than 60,000 comments in opposition to the proposal. Further, Defenders expert David Gaillard led an independent effort to document wildlife that travel through the Upper Hoback region. He set up remote cameras to photograph all the species that would be at risk of losing vital habitat if drilling was allowed to occur. See a photo slideshow of his trip to setup the cameras, as well as the video below summarizing what he found:
Tragically, Dave died at the end of last year in a ski accident, so it only feels right to dedicate this incredible win for wildlife to all his hard work. And thanks to all Defenders supporters for helping to make this a lasting part of Dave’s legacy!