These past few months, we’ve been asking the state to urge the Bureau of Land Management to take a more precautionary approach to oil and gas leasing in migration corridors until legally binding wildlife protections can be put into place. New and existing science clearly shows that drilling in migration corridors is bad for mule deer herds, and we want to know that any leases offered will have the stipulations in place that will protect Wyoming’s wildlife.
And thanks to you, the BLM is hearing a loud and clear message from the public. More than 260 of you signed our petition — which we submitted as formal comments — asking the BLM to defer leasing in Wyoming’s mule deer migration corridors and crucial winter ranges. To learn more about this issue, you can read our fourth quarter sale fact sheet.
In September, too, a west-wide court ruling forced the BLM to temporarily withdraw hundreds of thousands of acres of Greater sage-grouse habitat from its oil and gas lease auction scheduled for December, in order to allow for more public participation. The court found the BLM’s attempts to shorten public participation periods are likely in violation of several federal laws. As a result, just three parcels will go up for auction in Wyoming in December while the remaining 584 parcels spanning 790,462 acres will go on the auction block in February.
It’s the biggest lease sale in the state’s recent history, and it’s an indication of what the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” mandate continues to mean for Wyoming — a state where nearly half our lands are public. We’re letting the BLM know that we won’t stand for leasing in our most vital wildlife habitat.
We submitted a second round of comments listing several concerns regarding the BLM’s failure to consider a more measured approach. We continue to ask the BLM to defer leases that overlap big game migration corridors and crucial winter range until science-based and legally-enforceable stipulations are put into place to protect these habitats.
This week we testified before the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to let them know that Wyomingites overwhelmingly support protecting these migration corridors, and we continue to encourage state officials to simply honor that support by asking the Interior to defer leasing. To find out what our “next steps” are, you can read our recent letter with our recommendations to Gov. Matt Mead’s policy advisor.