There is a wolverine in East Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains

Tracks of a male found in the rugged mountain wilderness-

Although it might just be passing through, this is a first for this mountain fastness.

Last summer, my spouse (Jackie) staffed a fire tower on the edge of the Eagle Cap Wilderness, which covers much of the mountain range.

Wallowa Mountains from Deadman Point. Aug. 2010. Copyright Ralph Maughan

The creation of the vast Eagle Cap Wilderness, plus a number of subsequent additions, was a great conservation victory.

Story. Wolverine tracks found for first time in Wallowa County. Researchers seek to answer if animal was loner or part of pack. East Oregonian.
Regarding this headline . . . wolverine don’t form packs.

Herd of wild bison living in Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness

Their origin is not known-

The Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Wallowa Mountains is large and rugged. It’s in extreme NE Oregon near Washington and Idaho. This herd of 25 bison is of unknown origin. What a happy discovery!

The Eagle Cap Wilderness,  the nearby Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness and areas in Oregon’s Blue Mountains are also where the state’s wolves live.

Wild herd of bison roams base of Wallowa Mountains in Oregon. Richard Cockle. The Oregonian

One of my photos of the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

In Pinedale, Wyo., Residents Adjust to Air Pollution

Just a generation ago . . . cleanest air the West set against the highest mountains in Wyoming-

It was wonderful to backpack, fish, and climb in the Wind River Mountains in the day when they did not overlook a miasma of gas field air pollution.

In Pinedale, Wyo., Residents Adjust to Air Pollution. By Kirk Johnson. New York Times.

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 Most of the Wyoming and adjacent Salt River Range has been withdrawn from oil and gas leasing/drilling by act of Congress, but the PXP leases slipped through before the leasing was shut down by the Wyoming Range Legacy Act.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.

Western Montana: Biologists hunt for fisher hair in Fish Creek

They must be nearby. Ken Cole saw one cross Highway 12 about 40 miles SW just the other day-

Biologists hunt for fisher hair in Fish Creek. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian. “The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness appears to be such good fisher habitat that it may hold the last original Montana and Idaho species – unrelated to the transplants that populate the Panhandle and Cabinet Mountains.”

In fact it was immediately north of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness that Ken saw the fisher on Highway 12. Fish Creek in Montana is in the Bitterroot Mountains, west of Missoula.

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.

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Judge upholds ban on motorized travel in Badger-Two Medicine roadless area

Motorbikes, ATV interests rebuffed for large roadless area between Glacier N.P. and Bob Marshall Wildlerness-

Judge upholds ban on motorized travel in Badger-Two Med. By Karl Puckett.  Great Falls  Tribune Staff Writer.

I’ve only been there twice, and just into it a little way.  My impression is that it isn’t quite as rugged as the country to the north (Glacier N.P.) and the Great Bear and Bob Marshall Wildernesses to the south. It is very much full of wildlife.

The oil and gas industry has lusted after it for a long time. It has religious significance to the Blackfeet Nation (an issue in this failed lawsuit).