From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 19 - August 7, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Greens target LaBarge project

by Cat Urbigkit

The proposed LaBarge 3-D geophysical exploration project generated very little public comment to the Bureau of Land Management before the comment period officially closed Monday, but a host of issues were raised by a coalition of environmental groups.

Veritas DGC Land Incorporated has proposed the 3-D project, which would be located west of LaBarge, in portions of Sublette and Lincoln Counties. The general project boundaries would be LaBarge Creek on the south, South Piney Creek on the north, the Calpet Highway on the east, and the BLM-U.S. Forest Service boundary on the west.

Only state agencies and a coalition of environmental groups sent in comments for the BLM to consider as it prepares its environmental assessment of the proposal.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department's letter stated that the agency's primary concern is the habitat degradation that could occur in the LaBarge and South Piney watersheds "and the effect that this degradation may have on the Colorado River cutthroat trout population.

WG&F recommended that seismic operations cease no later than No. 15 on crucial big game winter ranges, a recommendation reinforced by the governor's office.

Wyoming Governor's Office Policy Analyst Tracy Williams wrote. "It is of vital importance that big game not be displaced from crucial habitats within the project area."

The environmental groups banded together in a letter signed by Matthew Niemerski of Defenders of Wildlife in Washington, D.C. The groups included Defenders, American Lands, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Wilderness Society, Upper Green River Valley Coalition, Wyoming Outdoor Council and the Wyoming Wilderness Association.

The 30-page letter asserted that an environmental assessment for the seismic exploration project would be inadequate and that an environmental impact statement was needed. Not only that, but the original Riley Ridge EIS needs to be supplemented before exploration can occur, the letter stated. New issues such as the presence of lynx and gray wolves need to be analyzed.

The environmentalists also argued that the Pinedale Resource Management Plan needs to be revised before the LaBarge 3-D decision document can be issued.

The letter suggested that one alternative the BLM needed to look at in the EIS is "phased exploration."

No exploration should be authorized while the 3-D EIS is being prepared, the environmentalists argued. Other issues raised in the letter ranged from black-footed ferrets to sage grouse and unhealthy riparian areas.

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