Oil and gas lease sales threaten Wyoming’s Red Desert

The state of Wyoming will auction 34 oil and gas lease parcels this month throughout Wyoming’s treasured Red Desert, home to crucial winter habitat for big game, historic pioneer trails, stunning volcanic rock formations, North America’s largest sand dune complex and dozens of other historic, cultural and natural resources, including the iconic Boar’s Tusk.

The state oil and gas lease parcels that dot the Red Desert map, if sold, would allow for industrial development that could forever harm the entire landscape at an incalculable cost to Wyoming’s wildlife, cultural heritage and outdoor recreation economies. The state lease sale will precede two federal oil and gas lease sales in September and December that also include parcels in sensitive areas, such as the Red Desert-to-Hoback big game migration corridor. This means the state, if it moves forward with the sale, will only multiply the threat posed by the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” mandate for public landscapes in Wyoming.

“The leasing of these stranded state land parcels for oil and gas development is a scenario for future management conflicts,” Wyoming Outdoor Council Executive Director Lisa McGee stated in a letter to Gov. Matt Mead. “This is because some of these areas are so fragile, pristine or so easily disrupted, that a single well could significantly erode the integrity of the landscape or resource. Many of the state land parcels have no road or pipeline access — creating threats of future impacts where none exist today.”

A broad coalition of stakeholders, including Native American communities and sportsmen, is asking the Wyoming State Board of Land Commissioners to withdraw 34 lease parcels and allow for a more measured approach to leasing in the Red Desert.

Stakeholders are mindful that Wyoming’s constitution prioritizes uses of state lands to generate revenue for Wyoming schools. The mandate can be better met without auctioning these mineral lease parcels, and instead working to exchange them for BLM parcels more suited to industrial development.

Read the Wyoming Outdoor Council’s June 2018 letter to Gov. Matt Mead.

Join us in asking the Office of State Lands and Investments and the Wyoming State Board of Land Commissioners to withdraw the 34 state oil and gas lease parcels for sale in Wyoming’s Red Desert this month. Call or write an email, and let them know your connection to these special Wyoming places, and why you want to protect them for future generations.

Bridget Hill, Director, Office of State Lands and Investments

Matt Mead, Wyoming Governor
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Edward Buchanan, Secretary of State

Cynthia Cloud, State Auditor

Mark Gordon, State Treasurer

Jillian Balow, Superintendent of Public Instruction