TU Praises Sen. Thomas for Recognizing Value of WY Backcountry


TU Praises Sen. Thomas for Recognizing Value of WY Backcountry

June 21, 2006


Contact: Tom Reed, (406) 522-7291 x104, treed@tu.org
Robert Pistono, (307) 637-7838

TU Praises Sen. Thomas for Recognizing Value of WY Backcountry

Senators recognition of fishing and hunting on public land is good news for Wyomings sportsmen

JACKSONSen. Craig Thomas recent declaration that oil and gas drilling should be prohibited from national forest lands in Wyoming demonstrates the veteran lawmakers commitment to the states anglers and hunters, said Tom Reed, Wyoming field coordinator for Trout Unlimited.

Senator Thomas is looking at these forests and asking what the people of Wyoming want from them in 20 or 50 years, said Reed. The Senator understands that abundant fish and wildlife habitat, outstanding hunting and fishing opportunities, clean water, and the opportunity to spend time in woods with family and friends are the values that define Wyoming.

Robert Pistono, Executive Director of Wyoming Trout Unlimited, echoed Reeds comments. All trout require cold, clean water to survive. Our national forests provide that water, and if we dont keep our headwaters free of development, we degrade our fisheries, Pistono said Wednesday. Even brown trout down in the big rivers are dependent upon the quality of the water that comes out of the national forests. Im really grateful to Sen. Thomas for recognizing the importance of keeping some places off limits to oil and gas drilling, because this helps conserve our fisheries heritage. This is especially true in the Wyoming Range, which has such a tremendous value for fishing and hunting.

The Wyoming Range along the states western edge is home to three separate cutthroat trout subspeciesColorado River cutthroats, Snake River fine-spotted cutthroats and Bonneville cutthroats. There are existing oil and gas leases in the Wyoming Range and more are planned later this summer. The existing leases are located in native Colorado River cutthroat territory in the headwaters of the Green River, a world-famous brown and rainbow trout fishery.

There are a lot of people like Sen. Thomas, Gov. Freudenthal, the AFL-CIO, and hunters and fishermen who are saying that places like the Wyoming Range should stay just the way they are, Reed said. Lets hope that others are listening, because Sen. Thomas is conveying the will of the people to the government. If were going to pass Wyomings excellent fishing and hunting down to our children and grandchildren, we need Sen. Thomas message to be heard loud and clear.

In addition to providing habitat needed for prime native trout fisheries, national forest land in Wyoming offers the states big game excellent summer habitat. With many lower-elevation lands already leased and drilled, these higher-altitude summer grounds provide much-needed cover, shelter and summer food sources for elk, deer and moose. For sportsmen in Wyoming, who are worried that prime winter range for big game is already being compromised, the protection of summer habitat is very important, Reed said.


Date: 6/21/2006