Wyoming Range Storm Light Aerial View, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming ~ Aerial Support Provided by LightHawk
I wrote a letter to the Bridger-Teton USFS Supervisor today, opposing the plan to develop a gas field in the Wyoming Range. I’ve written about it here in “Please Don’t Drill Here” and “Please Don’t Drill Here Part 2”. I’ve also shared images with the USFS from my LightHawk mission and visits to Lookout Peak and North Horse Creek drainage. I’ve been asked what my special connection to this place is and I don’t have a definitive answer. I’ve never hunted, fished, or backpacked here. Marla and I have never pitched a tent in the Wyoming Range. But I’ve seen it from the air and the ground, I know the area a little bit, and it stands for something. It stands for the last wild places left in the West, for a functioning ecosystem, for traditional land uses and Western Heritage. We’re running out of places. Here’s a link to an article in the Jackson Hole News.
My letter follows, along with contact information if you would like to write one as well.
Dear USFS Supervisor,
I’m writing to voice my opposition to the planned development of Noble Basin/S. Rim Unit in the Wyoming Range. I am a conservation photographer and avid hiker and believe strongly that industrial development in this area is incompatible with the resource. It is also opposed by local residents and hunters who have enjoyed traditional recreation on the land. I fully realize that the leases were granted during the Bush administration and that it would be costly to buy back the leases. But buying back and retiring the leases would be far easier than recovering the landscape after 30 years of development and associated infrastructure. I share the concerns of locals about traditional hunting, recreation, water quality, and the loss of a wild place that is too special to drill. Let’s not lose sight of the positive impact of hunting and recreation for the economy – money that is spent in the community every year.
Noble Basin lies in the path of the pronghorn and the Pinedale Mesa mule deer migration. We have celebrated the protection of the Pronghorn Migration Corridor, yet this development would cutoff the path to Pinedale Mesa. And it is tied to The Mesa by mule deer that are already severely compromised. The Pinedale Mesa mule deer herd is down 60% since 2001 and 30% died during the 2010 spring migration. Many other animals use Noble Basin – I viewed a Great gray owl and moose during an August, 2010 visit. We know that wolverine, lynx and wolves have traveled through the area, and a grizzly was seen frequently on the high ridges of the Wyoming Range last summer. We still have a functioning ecosystem, in spite of the development on the Anticline, and further south in the Jonah and LaBarge Gas Fields. At what point does the Upper Green no longer function as a link in the Greater Yellowstone? If we lose hunting, great migrations, water and air quality, and another special, wild place for 136 wells, will we be able to look back and say it was all worth it?
The migrations, although limping, are still happening. Great wildlife diversity still exists in the Noble Basin. This part of the Greater Yellowstone is still intact. Fifth and sixth generation hunting and fishing continues in places that look very much like 100 years ago. The area is still wild. I implore you to listen to the unified voices opposing this development. I ask that you take a stand and stop the development of a place that is simply too wild, and too special to drill – too wild to become a “Jonah In The Trees.”
Thank you for hearing my voice. I have attached images that you can share with your colleagues.
People can submit written comments to Bridger-Teton Forest Supervisor Jacqueline Buchanan, P.O. Box 1888, Jackson, Wyoming 83001; and electronic comments to email@example.com with the subject line “Eagle Prospect and Noble Basin MDP DEIS.” The plan is available at www.fs.fed.us/r4/btnf/projects/. Comments are due March 10.