FWP considers new bighorn herd in headwater area of the Bitterroot River

Sticking point is probably domestic sheep-

If there are domestic sheep, they probably shouldn’t risk it.

Montana FWP considers new bighorn herd in Bitterroot. By Perry Backus. Ravalli Republic

Clashing sheep cultures in Idaho

Domestic sheep versus bighorn sheep and cultural traditions-

Nice to have an article about Idaho’s tiny, but powerful sheep culture (and those who have cultural ties to bighorn).

These domestic sheep guys are Governor Clement Otter’s pals. I’d like to see an article about the planned demise of Idaho’s educational culture at the hands of these land barons and their ilk.

Clashing sheep cultures in Idaho. As bighorn sheep numbers dwindle, efforts to keep them away from domestic sheep and disease are forcing a cost in the sheep industry — and could grow. By Rocky Barker.  Idaho Statesman.

Natural gas drilling proposal in Wyoming Range gets 40,000 comments!!

Wyoming folks love the Wyoming Range and fear fracking-

An unprecedented number of comments came in on the Plains Exploration & Production Co.’s (PXP) plan for up to 136 gas wells south of Bondurant near Noble Basin. Most of the Wyoming and adjacent Salt River Range has been withdrawn from oil and gas leasing/drilling by act of Congress, but the PXP leases slipped through before the leasing was shut down by the Wyoming Range Legacy Act.

My experience in the Noble Basin and adjacent area is of some of the finest elk and moose country in Wyoming.  A domestic sheep beleagered bighorn sheep herd is nearby. The huge number of comments seem to have strengthened the views of new Wyoming governor Matt Mead on the subject of drilling, after maybe fracking the area.

Wyoming Range drilling project garners 40,000 comments. By Environment & Energy Daily in WyoFile.

Bighorn get safe highway passage near Hoover Dam

Former bighorn death zone, now safe?

If you have tried to visit Hoover Dam the last decade, you know it has been one huge traffic jam. However, the dam by-pass and a widened U.S. 93 is now complete and with what looks like great benefits to the desert bighorn sheep the inhabit the very rugged Black Mountains near the dam. Of course, the traffic will now increase.

Project gives bighorn sheep safe passage over busy highway. Las Vegas Sun. By Dylan Scott

Judge overturns BLM grazing decision

This is what WWP calls “low hanging fruit”

Ely Sheep Grazing Allotments. The orange polygons represent bighorn sheep distribution and the red polygon represents the Warm Springs sheep trail. Click for larger view.

For the last several years I have been appealing grazing decision issued by the Ely District of the BLM and, over and over again, the District only considers alternatives which maintain the status quo even when they have identified problems on the allotments that are either caused by or exacerbated by livestock grazing.

The decision that was overturned and remanded back to the Ely District was for sheep grazing on 8 allotments encompassing 1.3 million acres of the Egan Field Office.  In their decision the BLM only considered two alternatives, one which would have renewed the previous 10-year decision without any changes; and one which would have renewed the permit with very minor changes in seasonal use, and placed very weak utilization standards on different components of the vegetation but kept the exact same number of grazing AUMs.  They didn’t consider a no grazing alternative or an alternative which would have reduced grazing levels at all.

Read the rest of this entry »

Forest Service rejects oil, gas leases in the Wyoming Range

Oil and gas development of the Wyoming Mountain Range is very unpopular-

Folks in NW Wyoming are rejoicing that the Bridger-Teton National Forest has announced the rejection of some of  the last of the requested natural gas leases in the Wyoming Mountain Range 20 miles NW of Pinedale (30 miles southeast of Jackson Hole). Forest rejects oil, gas leases in Wyo. Range. “[Forest supervisor] Buchanan follows [former supervisor] Hamilton’s draft, decides against development 35 miles south of Jackson.” By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Wyoming Range Legacy Act of 2009

The beautiful and wildlife rich mountain range’s protection from massive natural gas development has united different kinds of folks in northwestern Wyoming. In August 2009, most of the Wyoming Range and the adjacent Salt River Range (1.2 million acres) were withdrawn by Act of Congress from oil and gas development in the “Wyoming Range Legacy Act,” sponsored by most of Wyoming’s congressional delegation.

The Wyoming Range is still not entirely protected-

This does not mean the mountain range is entirely protected.  Among the very first gas wells developed in the general area were in the foothills of the Wyoming Range way back in the late 1970s at Riley Ridge, which has been massively industrialized.  As proposals to explore multiplied citizens organized to head off massive development of the entire mountainous area along the the Idaho/Wyoming border. Slightly less than 50,000 acres south of Bondurant slipped through — were leased — in the 1990s.

The Noble Basin drilling controversy-

Now PXP Energy wants to drill 136 wells in the area near Boundurant (referred to as the “Noble Basin” area) much to the outrage of local and non-so-local residents. At a hearing in Jackson, Wyoming last week about 98% of the testimony opposed the Noble Basin development. 1/20/11. Noble Basin sparks anger. Jackson Hole Daily. The advantage lies with PXP, however, because the act of leasing public land is the most critical stage of oil and gas development.  That’s because a lease creates a private property right that can only be extinguished by purchasing it back.  PXP’s drilling probably can’t be stopped by any action except public opinion or very restrictive stipulations imposed in the actual drilling.

Citizens can send their comments on regulation of the drilling to the Bridger-Teton National Forest, supervisor Jacqueline Buchanan, P.O. Box 1888, Jackson, WY 83001. Comments can be emailed to comments-intermtn-bridger-teton-big-piney@fs.fed.us with the subject line “Eagle Prospect and Noble Basin MDP DEIS.” The plan is available at http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/btnf/projects/. Comments are due Mar. 10.

Not all opposed to drilling the range-

Of course, the oil and gas industry supports drilling the area as does Wyoming’s lone member of the U.S. House, Republican Cynthia Lummis.  Lummis, while nominally a U.S. Representative, in practice pretty much represents oil rather than the state.

We have posted quite a few articles on protecting the Wyoming Range, but the blog hasn’t shown much interest.

I think this might be because the very name, Wyoming Range, might prompt those not from Wyoming to think the article is about rangeland in Wyoming rather than a large chain of mountains which are full of wildlife, especially elk. The range also has a small and declining bighorn sheep herd that is constantly threatened by disease from domestic sheep grazing. Western Watersheds has been trying to improve the livestock grazing in the area through the organization’s Wyoming Office.

As some have mentioned, it might also be that the area is psychologically hidden because the Tetons, Yellowstone, and the Wind River Mountains immediately come to mind when folks think of the state of Wyoming.

– – – –  –

More information

Read the rest of this entry »

Colorado Crimes: Bighorn sheep poacher wanted, $1,000 reward

$1000 for poacher in the Poudre Canyon-

That is near Ft. Collins, CO.
Story: Colorado Crimes: Bighorn sheep poacher wanted, $1,000 reward. By Kiernan Maletsky. The Latest Word

I put this story up after a request from a blog reader near the area.