TU Supports Balanced Leasing Plan on Uinta

Tue, 03/01/2011

Corey Fisher, (406) 546-2979


TU Supports Balanced Leasing Plan on Uinta

Forest Service development strategy protects critical habitat while allowing for responsible energy development

SALT LAKE CITY - A newly released U.S. Forest Service plan to lease and drill public lands in the Uinta National Forest strikes a good balance between habitat protection and oil and gas extraction, according to Trout Unlimited, a sportsmen’s conservation group with 1,500 members in the State of Utah.

"This strategy safeguards the backcountry hunting and fishing opportunities the Uinta National Forest is known for while simultaneously opening up new areas for future energy development," said Corey Fisher, energy field coordinator for TU. "Using today’s directional drilling technology, industry will be able to access oil and gas on nearly 70 percent of the available forest, and with improving technology, that percentage will only increase over time."

In recent years, TU and its members have pushed for a responsible energy development plan on the Uinta National Forest, where fish and wildlife habitat remains largely intact. The USFS plan will more than triple the lands available for oil and gas leasing from about 207,000 acres to nearly 736,000 acres, while at the same time protecting intact trout and wildlife habitat in backcountry areas and stream corridors through "no surface occupancy" stipulations. These stipulations will apply to 613,590 acres where oil and gas can be extracted by using directional drilling from less sensitive lands.

Additionally, the plan calls for regular water quality monitoring, allowing any problems to be addressed swiftly and completely should water contamination occur.  This is particularly important in the Strawberry Reservoir and Diamond Fork watersheds, areas that support high value native trout habitat and recreational fisheries worth tens of millions of dollars to the State of Utah.

"We hope this plan will serve as an example for how land management agencies can work with industry, sportsmen and other interests to arrive at a workable solution for all involved," Fisher said. "This plan will allow access to energy reserves while also protecting our hunting and fishing heritage today, and for generations to come."

Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization. It has over 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.


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