Help Halt Drilling on Crucial Moose Habitat

If you’ve never had the chance to venture out west to Yellowstone National Park, let me describe a scene for you: mountains covered by lodgepole pines, a place where rivers cut deep canyons across the land and quiet mornings interrupted by geysers shooting water and steam into the sky—a place where mule deer, elk and bison roam freely across the range.

It’s as beautiful as it sounds.  And these important wildlife habitats extend beyond the boundaries of Yellowstone, to the surrounding Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton National Forest, creating an expansive and un-fragmented habitat for wildlife in northern Wyoming.  But right now in Wyoming, this landscape and the moose that live there are being threatened.

The Plains Exploration & Production Company (PXP) is proposing to drill 136 new oil and gas wells in parts of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The Wyoming Range mountains in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming were protected in 2009 from any future oil and gas development.  However, the legislation that protected this vital habitat doesn’t prevent existing lease-holders from putting new oil and gas wells on the land that they leased.

Now, 12,000 acres of crucial winter habitat for moose may be lost if the Forest Service doesn’t take action to protect this vital wildlife habitat.

Protecting these lands is important for many reasons—for wildlife, for visitors, for sportsmen and other people who enjoy the outdoors—for keeping certain areas intact for generations to come. But I believe that Dan Smitherman with Citizens for the Wyoming Range explains it the best:

“Citizens for the Wyoming Range is not opposed to energy development, and we understand that PXP has a legal right to make its proposal, but we believe that responsible drilling means that some places are too special to drill. We think the Upper Hoback is one of those special places. Congress recognized this when it passed the Wyoming Range Legacy Act and withdrew these lands from future oil and gas leasing. The Legacy Act created a market-based solution for existing leases and we urge PXP to sell and retire its leases in the spirit of the legislation.”

How can you help?

The Forest Service is taking public comments on its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for PXP’s proposed drilling operation.  The document explains that 12,000 acres of crucial winter habitat for moose would be lost, as well as outlining negative impacts to mule deer, elk, and cutthroat trout that depend on this habitat for survival.

The deadline for public comments is March 11, 2011.  So even if you’ve never been to  Yellowstone National Park or northern Wyoming, that doesn’t mean you can’t help protect the picture-perfect scenery, and the wildlife, like moose, that call it home (and who knows—you too may one day have an opportunity to enjoy its beauty!).

Take Action!

Tell the Forest Service to adopt the No Action alternative to protect crucial winter habitat for moose and halt oil and gas drilling on this vital area for wildlife.