Steven Brutger, Trout Unlimited (307) 332-6700
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Trout Unlimited Will Participate in Plains DEIS Process
Conservation group led the way on Wyoming Range Legacy Act and pledges to remain involved
JACKSON - Trout Unlimited today pledged to be an active participant and thoroughly review the U.S. Forest Service's draft environmental impact statement on the merits of the Plains Exploration and Production Co. natural gas drilling leases in the Wyoming Range.
The DEIS was released Thursday.
These leases, which are located in sensitive fish and wildlife habitat, were valid and existing before the Wyoming Range Legacy Act was approved in 2009. That legislation essentially prohibited new oil and gas drilling and extraction in the Wyoming Range, but exempted leases that were already in place.
"We recognize these leases as valid, and we understand Plains' right to access the natural gas below them if they can do so in a manner that adequately protects fish and wildlife habitat and mitigates for unavoidable impacts," said Steven Brutger, energy field coordinator for TU. "We intend to participate in the DEIS process, to ensure that these leases—if they are to be developed—are brought to maturity in a way that not only protects fish and game habitat, but also hunting and fishing opportunity."
TU worked on behalf of sportsmen and women for half a decade to get the Wyoming Range Legacy Act approved by Congress and signed by President Obama. The bill protected some 1.2 million acres of public lands - including hundreds of thousands of acres of irreplaceable fish and game habitat - from future industrial development.
The Plains leases, which make up about 77,000 acres, are a concern to TU, and the organization's first priority is ensuring development happens responsibly with deference paid to the area's stellar fish and game habitat.
"The Wyoming Range is such a special place to so many people in the state," Brutger said. "On behalf of our members and volunteers throughout Wyoming, we intend to be very involved in this process and we'll seek the best possible outcome on behalf of hunters and anglers."
Trout Unlimited is a private, non-profit organization with more than 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.