1 Million-Plus Acres in Wyoming Comprise TRCP Protests

Sportsmen’s group supports responsible fish and game management in its challenge of
federal resource management plan and energy lease sale

WASHINGTON – With its goal the responsible development of public-lands energy resources, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership today announced formal protests of a broad land-use plan for the Upper Green River Basin in western Wyoming, near Pinedale, and an Oct. 7 Wyoming energy lease sale. Both actions continue the group’s advocacy for common-sense fish and wildlife management and hunting and fishing traditions on America’s public lands.

“The Pinedale resource management plan paints a grim future for conservation in America,” said Tom Franklin, senior vice president of the TRCP. “The federal government’s proposal lacks proactive measures for habitat management in the Upper Green River Basin, a region known for its world-class fish and wildlife resources. But American sportsmen believe that these resources are vitally important to our nation and our cultural identity, and we are unwilling to accept the declines in their populations predicated in the government’s plan.”

The 1.2 million acres encompassed by the Pinedale resource management plan, or RMP, sustain abundant big-game populations and fisheries and are managed by the Bureau of Land Management through the Pinedale Field Office. This plan is distinct from the recently released Pinedale record of decision, or ROD, a project-specific decision regarding how development of the Pinedale Anticline natural gas project will proceed on approximately 300,000 acres.

“Federally prescribed management actions for wildlife fail to conform to current, peer-reviewed science in the Pinedale plan,” said Dr. Rollin Sparrowe, a TRCP board member and past president of The Wildlife Society. “The ramifications of this failure are twofold – one, important habitat for big game and sage grouse will suffer and these species’ populations will decline and, two, the multiple-use mandate that the BLM is required to adhere to is being ignored.

“Based on this plan, wildlife in the Upper Green River Basin are afforded no assurances for the future,” continued Sparrowe, a biologist with more than 40 years’ experience using science in wildlife management. “Large blocks of habitat and wildlife are protected only if no oil and gas are discovered, and criteria for reducing habitat protections are not identified. Compounding the well-documented, dramatic reductions in mule deer on winter range in the anticline project area, this plan assumes an annual 2-percent decline in mule deer hunting for the larger region. This is a plan for industrialization of the Upper Green, not a plan for conservation of its resources for the future.

“Overall, the Pinedale plan ignores a wealth of scientific information and a range of state and federal guidelines for fish and wildlife management,” stated Sparrowe. “President Bush’s executive order on hunting? The Wyoming governor’s sage grouse implementation strategy? The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s mule deer plan? U.S. Forest Service planning documents? None are mentioned in this plan, and all should influence how the BLM manages the public’s lands and resources.”

Similar concerns for Wyoming’s game populations and sporting traditions spurred the TRCP protest of one of the largest BLM energy lease sales in the state’s history. Approximately 190,000 acres of sage grouse habitat and big-game migration corridors and winter range comprise the sportsmen’s protest. Energy development in these areas would affect public lands and hunting and fishing throughout the state.

“We have reached a watershed moment for energy development, not just in Wyoming, but across the Rocky Mountain West,” said Dwayne Meadows, a TRCP field representative based in Laramie. “The federal government is pushing a blueprint for development that fails to address the needs of fish and wildlife and dismisses the interests of public-lands users.”

“The Pinedale resource management plan is a prime example of how not to pursue energy projects on our public lands,” concluded Franklin, “yet this plan is being promoted as the model for future projects. The stakes are enormous. Nothing less than our cultural integrity is at risk. This is why we should care about Pinedale, Wyoming.”

The TRCP believes that to better balance the concerns of fish and wildlife in the face of accelerating energy development, federal land management agencies must follow the conservation tenets outlined in the FACTS for Fish and Wildlife.

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions
of hunting and fishing.