Groups respond to BLM decision on lease sale

Pictured are locations for the Bureau of Land Management’s March’s oil and gas lease sales, which includes 140 parcels totaling about 148,090 acres.

SWEETWATER COUNTY — Conservation groups expressed their appreciation to the Bureau of Land Management after it decided to take off eight proposed oil and gas lease parcels, six whole and two partial, within the Red Desert to Hoback mule deer migration corridor.

The BLM released the March 2019 oil and gas lease sale list, which includes 140 parcels totaling about 148,909 acres, on Wednesday.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department recommended pulling the eight parcels until the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan revision was completed.

The BLM is scheduled to release a draft of the plan’s final environmental impact statement in May, according to the BLM’s October 2018 National Environmental Policy Act Hotsheet.

“The BLM decision to defer leases, wholly and partially, is the correct decision,” Wyoming Wildlife Federation Policy Director Joy Bannon said on Thursday.

“Smart from the start strategy and management is critical to conserving these migration corridors,” she said. “We applaud the Wyoming Game and Fish for their hard work to safeguard these vital habitats.”

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Wyoming Field Representative Nick Dobric said the group was thankful for the BLM’s decision.

”We appreciate the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s increased leadership to request deferring energy leases in recognized big game migration corridors until appropriate lease stipulations can be applied,” Dobric said. “We also appreciate their attention to stopover areas, where deer spent 95 percent of their migration and are used spring and fall, year after year.”

In accordance with Secretarial Order 3362 to improve wildlife habitat, the BLM worked closely with the state to develop a leasing strategy that protected important wildlife habitat in the mule deer migration corridor, a BLM press release states.

For more on the leases, go to https://go.usa.gov/xPpEv.

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