From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 2, Number 39 - December 23, 2002
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Grouse winter exceptions okayed

by Cat Urbigkit

The Pinedale office of the Bureau of Land Management has granted its first sage grouse winter exceptions for the 2002-2003 winter.

BLM biologist Keith Andrews said while the Pinedale Resource Management Plan didn't specifically call for winter restrictions on development to protect grouse, his agency has imposed the restriction in order to get more data about the impacts to grouse. The restriction is from Nov. 15 to April 30.

By controlling when and where development occurs in the winter through the exception process, Andrews said, his agency can be sure that surveys for wintering grouse concentrations be conducted every two or three weeks, gaining needed information.

"We just don't have enough data on wintering concentrations," Andrews said, and the surveys will provide that information.

Most of the pending and approved applications are for the Square Top/Bull Draw area west of Highway 191. Stone Energy was granted a short (three-day) exception earlier this month in this area.

Questar Exploration and Production has requested an exception for a Mesa well, for a multiple-well location located just outside the quarter-mile radius of a grouse lek. The BLM is considering this exception, which would allow drilling starting in March.

Shell Rocky Mountain has applied for five exceptions, two of which have already received approval, both granting the disturbances throughout the winter months (to April 1). Both are for multiple well sites, and both will be part of the ongoing sage grouse research effort begun in 1998.

The other three Shell applications haven't received BLM approval as of Friday afternoon.

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